The saai collects, archives, and preserves the material of significant architects, engineers, architectural historians, photographers, as well as landscape and interior designers, active in south-western Germany and worldwide.
The collection's main focus is the 20th century. Besides studying its collection, the saai is committed to support scholars in their ongoing projects.
Through its own publications and exhibitions, the centre fulfills its commitments to the culture of building and cultural history.
The saai holds one of the most impressive collections of its type in Germany consisting of more than 500,000 plans, drawings and sketches, 600,000 photographs, slides, negatives and audio and video tapes, 1,100 meters shelving of files and records, about 900 models and 50 items of furniture, as well as a wide range of monographs and periodicals (400 meters).
The collection originates in the former collection, which was probably used for teaching purposes and belonged to the faculty of architecture at the Polytechnical School, known today as the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In the 1970s, major donations and bequests bestowed by contemporary architects enriched the collection. These donations were the initial impulse for the foundation of saai.
The project continued in 1989 when the government of Baden-Württemberg decided to incorporate the saai into the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and attach it to the Chair in Architectural History. Since 1989, the collection expanded through the addition of new materials relating to contemporary architects.