Project, 10.11.2017

ZentralDepot: A former bank building
assumes a new role

© Andreas Gehrke, 2017

© Andreas Gehrke, 2017

 

An unusual bank building in the centre of Germany, designed by architect Hans Kollhoff in the late 1990s, has been converted into a depot for art and valuables. Seemingly monolithic on one side with its heavy sandstone facade, the mammoth structure flows into an unexpected openness and even relaxedness on the other side. This stems from the enormous glass window designed by Swiss artist Helmut Federle, as well as the interior courtyard covered by a glass roof that, though impregnable, comes across as a light element. Austere calm emitted from the exterior coalesces with a certain domestic atmosphere imparted by an array of rooms inside. There’s a distinct feel for aesthetics and art, and since the new tenants belong to the latter category rather than the monetary world, a harmonizing balance occurs. ZentralDepot offers a safe home to artworks within a climate-controlled setting combining unprecedented security and exceptional design. It goes to indicate that the one does not have to eliminate the other. 

Project, 30.10.2017

Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom & the Cold War
at Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
Nov 3, 2017 – Jan 8, 2018

Irving Norman (1906-1989) M.F.I. Complex, 1981 © Crocker Art Museum Association, Sacramento; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY / Lene Berg Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache Fassaden-Banner, 2008. Courtesy the artist / Image by Sebastian Bolesch
Irving Norman, M.F.I. Complex, 1981 © Crocker Art Museum Association, Sacramento; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY / Lene Berg, Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache, 2008. Courtesy the artist / HKW image by Sebastian Bolesch

 

After the Second World War, the battle of the systems also involved the arts and culture in a symbolic arms race. One prominent example was the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an organization founded in West Berlin to consolidate an “anti-totalitarian” intellectual community. The CCF subsidized countless cultural programs from Latin America to Africa and Southeast Asia, developing a network of journals, conferences, and exhibitions that advanced a “universal” language of modernism in literature, art, and music. By 1967, a major scandal erupted: the CCF was secretly bankrolled by the CIA as a form of propaganda to support an anti-Communist consensus in favor of U.S. hegemony. The exhibition Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War is devoted to the global dimension of cultural politics in that era and to the changing meanings attributed to modernism. The artworks and archival materials on show explore the friction between the political instrumentalization of art and artists’ struggle for autonomy. It’s thoroughly illustrated how modernism became a signifier for individual freedom and was tantamount to establishing Western cultural hegemony in the 20th century. Thus, the CCF is in a way returning to its 10-year-anniversary location, Berlin’s former Congress Hall, today’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt.

Feature, 13.10.2017

The Power of the Arts
Announcing the Winners

The Power of the Arts
© Robert Rieger

Advocating for the integration and inclusion of people from migration and refugee backgrounds, and all kinds of minority groups, lies at the core of The Power of the Arts initiative. Through different expressions of culture — like music, art, theater, and dance — a deeper sense of understanding is fostered across the board. This year’s winning non-profit initiatives touch on numerous issues of discrimination and inequality. Label m invests in youth subcultures and the flourishing scene of young talents in Saarbrucken. Sprayers, skaters, rappers; they all herald the creativity emerging from this often underestimated city. Through Weissensee academy’s *foundationClass program, refugees who want to follow an artistic path are given an opportunity to prepare themselves for applying to art schools. In Saxony, Banda Internationale uses music to neutralize hate, tear down prejudices and connect different cultures. A further aim is to render integration successful and create a more open community where democratic exchange doesn’t merely exist as an idea. Meanwhile, Un-Label seeks to do exactly what its name implies: remove labels and fight against putting people into boxes. Discriminatory boundaries and biases are banished using the means of performing arts. 

Project, 12.10.2017

vGGG Building by Gonzalez Haase AAS

vGGGbild
© Images: Thomas Meyer – Ostkreuz / big image: Gonzalez Haase AAS

Tucked away snugly between two adjacent buildings, vGGG is a housing cooperative project consisting of three residential units with a “house-inside-a-house” character. Starting from the outside, the building’s location is crucial to its aesthetic qualities. Ohmstrasse, a landmark-protected street, is something of an inner-city island or haven of sorts: its existing structures date back to the “founding era” of Berlin, yet it is surrounded by wasteland, industrial plants and highrises. Its historic provenance, however, makes the addition of modernist-inspired architecture a challenge, due to strict regulations. To resolve this creatively, Gonzalez Haase’s design approach disregards the outside appearance of a building shell and therefore vGGG is conceived from the inside out. The building reacts to its environment on a more complex level, which can only be experienced when one encounters the architecture from within. Inside, one thing is instantly evident: the prevailing feature is the abundance of light entering from every possible direction. From the size and placement of windows, to shortened walls and connective openings between floors, it’s all about unobstructed views and allowing natural brightness to penetrate the rooms. Thus, the industrial charm of the neighbouring horizon steps into the sphere of the private. In turn, the house morphs into a threshold between entirely contrasting urban landscapes. For Gonzalez Haase, conforming to regulations and framework conditions shapes architecture, and can ultimately generate beauty — and in this case lead to a refreshing take on reducing things to their core.

Feature, 11.10.2017

Wild Urbanism: Reconciling city life with nature in Moscow
The Zaryadye Park

diller3Images: Iwan Baan / rendering by Diller Scofidio + Renfro

 

In Moscow’s oldest district, a new public park is unfurling — the first to be built in the Russian capital in over 50 years. Zaryadye Park sits on a historically charged site in close proximity to the Kremlin and Red Square, as well as surrounding heritage buildings. Since the demolition of the colossal Rossiya Hotel that existed there until 2007, the most expensive real-estate in Moscow was left in ruin. After winning an international competition organized by Moscow Chief Architect Sergei Kuznetsov in collaboration with Strelka KB, NIIPI Genplana of Moscow and the Moscow Committee for Architecture, a design consortium led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in partnership with Hagreaves Associates and Citymakers has applied their approach to fostering inclusivity, openness, access and porosity to the project. The defining part of the design’s basis is the idea of “Wild Urbanism” — an elemental confrontation between the natural and artificial, the local and global. Expanding on this overarching concept, the overall lack of paths and predefined routes allow people and plants to exist and move freely alongside each other. Unpredictable conditions give as little instructions as possible and therefore offer a more genuine sense of exploration. Visitors can meander between the different landscapes that blend into one another, and reconcile urban life with the desire to be in proximity to nature. Zaryadye Park’s concept is specific to Russia by including native flora in four artificial microclimates that mimic the landscape typologies dominating Russia: the tundra, the forest, the wetland and steppe. “Moscow lost and found” runs as an underlying thread throughout the project: Once inside the park, large swatches of forest and vegetation allow immersion in nature and escape from the city. Elsewhere, promontories offer singular outlooks from which the city is rediscovered and appreciated anew. Based on the principle of lamination, the park buries built structures underneath, which host different cultural programs, restaurants and a philharmonic hall. Thus, a multiplicity of experiences are embedded in the same space in an ostensibly organic manner that resists over-calculated design. Scheduled to be revealed in September 2017, the current transformation of the Zaryadye district into a public space, represents both a historic moment for the Russian capital, and a powerful opportunity to rethink the purpose, potential, and value of parks in the 21st century.

 

Project, 10.10.2017

Future Architecture Festival
Breaking Down the Walls
Sep 20 – 30, 2017

 

Architecture is not necessarily an activity whose sole purpose is construction, but rather a field for intellectual research and speculation that encompasses an arsenal of numerous disciplines. The emerging generation of the most talented architects and urban professionals in Europe joined forces during the Future Architecture Festival in Ljubljana organized by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO). The purpose? To break down walls. Not just physical walls, but also those of imaginary, professional and ideological nature. Through critical approach, architecture is perceived as a means to address the most pressing social and political issues of our times. Essentially, the common aim of all the ideas taking part in the festival is to observe, analyze and change the world we live in. Some of the stimulating topics discussed included James Taylor Foster’s (archdaily) lecture and panel discussion “What is Attention Economy? Why Should I Care?” which unpicked the designed intention behind social sharing and the state of the Internet in 2017 – a reality both fascinating and disconcerting in equal measure. Focusing on future materials, Esen Gökçe Özdamar presented the Bioplarch workshop which proposed new bio-degradable plastic made out of edible components and how it can be realistically used and widely applied in industries and daily life. Of course, one of the fervent topics throughout the whole festival was the reclamation of public space and strengthening communal initiatives. Among others, Kosmos Architects proposed to turn Basel’s underground river into a linear botanical garden, open for the public year-round.

Bureau N’s involvement
As a member of the Future Architecture Platform, Bureau N was invited to host a talk during the festival. We decided to focus on a common thread between our field of expertise — cultural communications — and the overarching theme of architecture. It was quickly obvious that the shared ground we were after was storytelling. Within our practice, stories are an indispensable device that helps us convey messages, if not the underlying protagonist of all our projects. Giving shape to narratives that others can empathize with, or are curious to explore further, is the bedrock of every worthwhile creative project seeking to transmit information that’s understood by more than one person in a powerful manner. In this case here, taking storytelling as a point of departure, we aimed to touch upon the relationship between architecture and narrative, and how space can be perceived through that particular scope. Our talk, entitled “Tales Only Architecture Can Tell” was joined by two theorists and two practitioners: futurist Ludwig Engel whose work deals with urban utopias and future cities; Victor Cano Ciborro of the architectural collective and radical research group Arquitectura Subalterna; scientist and researcher Ana Jeinic who engages in how architecture will adapt to post-futuristic states of culture; and Adrianna Pablos Llona who questions borders, nations and monolithic disciplines. All presented lectures and workshops will be soon available online on videolectures.net

FAF2
Images: Bioplarch,starch-based bioplastic as construction material by Esen Gökçe Özdamar, Ahmet Bal, Schermin Schentürk /  Hidden Park, Kosmos Architects / Tempio di Minerva. Sonic Impression or Architecture as Instrument”, FAKT Architects in collaboration with MAXXI

Feature, 02.10.2017

An Eames Celebration at Vitra Design Museum –
four parallel exhibitions of the legendary designer couple
Sep 30, 2017 – Feb 25, 2018

Eames1

 

With their inexhaustible supplies of imagination, intelligent sense of humor and iconic creations, Charles and Ray Eames had a major impact on 20th century culture that extended well beyond design and architecture. Throughout their careers, they focused primarily on finding answers to the simple question of how the basic human needs for living space, comfort and knowledge could best be met. Rather than a luxury, they understood design as a solution. Nowadays, the duo’s name is synonymous with timeless aesthetics and technical precision, embodying the synergy of form and function. In celebration of these two enduring creative forces, the Vitra Design Museum is presenting four parallel exhibitions that offer an unprecedented view of the work created by the ever-referenced designers. From medical splints and airport seating to films and children’s toys, visitors will be invited to explore an all-encompassing spectrum of the Eames’s vision taking over the entirety of the Vitra Campus. The exhibition sequence’s major retrospective will be accompanied by the designers’ cinematic oeuvre of more than 60 films, children toys as well as the full scope of the collection of the Eames Office that is with the museum since 1988.

Eames2
Credits:Charles and Ray Eames selecting slides / Ray Eames with an early prototype of »The Toy« in the patio of the Eames House, 1950 /  Charles and Ray in the living room of the Eames House, 1958 / Installation view of »Glimpses of the U.S.A.«, American National Exhibition, Moscow, 1959 / Photo shoot of the Aluminum Group with Charles Eames, 1960 / Charles and Ray Eames, Film still »Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero«, 1977. All pictures: © Eames Office LLC

Feature, 08.09.2017

Monica Bonvicini at Berlinische Galerie
Sep 16, 2017 – Feb 26, 2018

“You can avoid people but you can’t avoid architecture.“

Mb1

Whether through questions about gender and sexuality, or by investigating architecture’s imposing ability to manipulate our physical actions on a daily basis, Monica Bonvicini consistently explores themes of power and control. Her multidisciplinary approach—videos, installations, drawings and sculptures—touches on identity as well as socio-political and economic issues with a hint of humour. Conceived for the large exhibition hall of the Berlinische Galerie, Bonvicini’s new installation, amongst other things, investigates the term “facade” and its function in the built environment. The institutional viewing space is often the subject of her work and thus, Bonvicini’s site-­specific, power-­conscious and gendered allusions to the norms of architectural and artistic modernism quite literally operate on the boundary between artwork and spectator.

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Feature, 06.09.2017

Felix Kiessling – Neuordnung II at Alexander Levy
Sep 9 – Nov 4, 2017

Felix1

“I’ve been giddy ever since birth. I feel like I’m standing on a planetary sphere that has no scale or direction, no above or below.” – Felix Kiessling

 

Extensive fieldwork and research into our natural surroundings is a constant force inherent in Felix Kiessling’s subversive practice. Perception of space, our visible environment and “man-made truths” are there to be challenged and consequently defied. In his solo exhibition Neuordnung II at alexander levy gallery, Kiessling almost playfully interacts with the world, trying to overcome physical limits in regards to pre-existing relations. For one of the pieces on show, Erddurchstechung (global piercing), the artist anchored and aligned two metal pipes vertically in the ground at two precisely antipodean points of the Earth, in order to shape an imaginary connecting line. Thus, two points that couldn’t be physically further apart from each other, merge into one. Dividing lines of geographical and socio-political nature dissolve, giving way to a theoretical unity and interconnectedness on a global scale. The oft-appearing element of hubris reminds us of our placement in the world, in terms of space and time, and demonstrates that the planetary laws and realities we’ve shaped are not indisputable.

Foto 01.09.17, 10 18 36
© Felix Kiessling

Project, 17.07.2017

Design Display’s exhibition #5 on Design and Democracy
July 20 – November 12, 2017

“Design is invisible”, wrote sociologist Lucius Burckhardt almost 40 years ago. Design doesn’t merely apply to objects, graphics, user interfaces or spaces, but also refers to social processes and complex systems. Democracy is one such a system: it is not a given, but rather a structured process. The 5th edition of the exhibition series Design Display examines how design and democracy intersect in order to effect change in society. On the basis of two different democratic processes, the exhibition presents a spectrum of creative possibilities: from hands-on participation in urban development to new digital technologies that can fundamentally alter the face of democracy. On one side of the two-fold exhibition, the Hamburg-based group PlanBude focuses on promoting public participation in city planning and explores how design can become more inclusive. Shaping and implementing participatory processes is a crucial step to ensuring democracy isn’t just a formal act, but a vital part of everyday life. This means giving voice to those not normally consulted during the stages of development. Architects and city planners are made aware of the residents’ knowledge, desires, and needs, so that site-specific features can be incorporated into their designs. PlanBude advocates moving beyond designing for the people toward designing with the people. The second element of the exhibition turns to the digital world and, in particular, the innovative technology of blockchains and its various applications within the infinite World Wide Web. Blockchains store information in small units, in blocks that aren’t stored on one, but on many different servers connected to each other. This form of storage is extremely secure against hacking and manipulation and thus utilizable for democratic processes. Among other things, this new technology makes it conceivable to cast secret ballots on the Internet, to make management transparent, or to provide tools that promote direct democracy or economic autonomy. Across the world, blockchain solutions are prompting administrative processes to become more transparent and citizens to get involved more directly.