Root Domain

Lara Lesmes, Fredrik Hellberg and Owen Hopkins


( Concept )

The pandemic forced museums to shift many of their programmes and activities online, accelerating a trend that was already well underway. While nothing can replace in-person visits, digital platforms allow for radically de-centralised museum experiences, without the carbon footprint of transporting people and objects across the world.

However, digital experiences are dependent on a hidden, yet massive physical infrastructure that is having an ever increasing impact on people and planet. Our proposal emerges from the equivalence we see between the way museums are constructed to obscure the power imbalances that sustain them, and how digital technology is designed to distance its users from its environmental impacts.

For the exhibition we proposed a mixed-reality experience where visitors are met with a large sphere floating in mid air, which quickly reveals itself as a visualization of the world through the new geography of data. A narrative unfolds that sees the globe’s dynamic surface unpeel onto the floor to reveal strata that correspond to different layers of the global digital infrastructure – both existing and planned.

Suspending the illusions that govern our experience of the digital realm, the project recasts the museum as a perpetual beta.

Project Team
Lara Lesmes, Fredrik Hellberg and Owen Hopkins
Project Name
Root Domain: Tracing the Physical Impact of Digital Museums and Archives
Team Location
London and Newcastle, UK
Architecture & Design