The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Wheelwright Prize 2022 goes to Marina Otero, it has been announced today. The curator and academic scooped the prestigious win this year with her proposal ‘Future Storage: Architectures to Host the Metaverse’, focusing on storing data through the architectural and digital lens. 

‘While there is an urgent need to find new ways to understand progress, imagining alternative futures in current circumstances is proving troublesome. In this context, the proposal is a deeply optimistic project that considers other worlds possible: post-anthropocentric, ecological, and plural,’ says Otero. ‘The prize reaffirms my confidence in the ability of this research to bring about new paradigms for consuming and storing data, expressly to make a difference.

‘Data centres might not seem like an exciting place for an architectural project. However, the huge scale of the operations of the data industry and its pervasiveness and increasing importance in the contemporary world – coupled with its openness to innovation and concurrent pressures to find better socio-ecological models – creates a fertile environment for experimentation and action.’

marina otero wins Wheelwright Prize 2022
Marina Otero. Photography: Boudewijn Bollmann

Otero currently serves as the head of the social design master’s degree at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. She will, however, embark on her Wheelwright-focused research this summer, which will encompass both study and visits to various sites across the world – including Iceland, Chile and Sweden. 

Data storage is in unprecedented demand today and Otero’s work aims to shed light on architecture’s response to the subject matter, reimagining digital infrastructures. As with previous Wheelwright winners – architect Germane Barnes received the 2021 prize – the $100,000 prize will fund two years of Otero’s research and travel towards her goal.

Otero was praised by the Wheelwright Prize 2022 awarding body for her innovative and important proposal, who added that the output ‘will result in the first manual for global data centre architecture design, as well as open-source course material and public programming’. §

in residence plan architectural sketch
’After Belonging: In Residence,’ featured at Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016 (After Belonging: A Triennale In Residence, On Residence and the Ways We Stay in Transit). Image credit: After Belonging Agency (Lluís Casanovas, Ignacio Galán, Carlos Mínguez, Alejandra Navarrete and Marina Otero)
milan triennale shot
‘I See That I See What You Don’t See’, Dutch contribution to La XXII Triennale di Milano, 2019, curated by Angela Rui, Marina Otero and Francien van Westrenen. Photography: Daria Scagliola