Feature, 12.04.2017

The Anti-Museum
An anthology devoted to a radical artistic engagement

book cover and Marcel Broodthaers with camel in front of Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles © Maria Gilissen

book cover and Marcel Broodthaers with camel in front of Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles © Maria Gilissen

“Museums should be invisible. With an imaginary museum you can do whatever you want.” –
Maurizio Cattelan

What does the term anti-art encompass? It’s shaped by an array of concepts that reject prior definitions of art and question the art system and how it functions. “The Anti-Museum“, an extensive anthology by Mathieu Copeland and Balthazar Lovay, addresses the idea of anti-art through numerous contributions by renowned artists and writers. From interviews and historical reprints to manifestos and commissioned essays, the 794-page encyclopaedic tome presents the first comprehensive exploration of the radical and paradoxical concept that is the ‘anti-museum’ – a term so present in art history and yet one that has never been the object of detailed investigation. The museum has always been a target for criticism, whether it comes from artists, thinkers, curators, or even the public. Dedicated to all forms of “anti” such as Anti-Art, Anti-Technology, Anti-Design and Anti-Philosophy, the publication features numerous texts from the 60s until today – including newly commissioned as well as never-before-translated pieces – to define the idea of anti-art in a broad sense, evoking attempts to disrupt rules and customs in artistic disciplines.

Project, 04.04.2017

Design Display #4: Between MXN and the US
Two projects consider socio-political questions
Mar 30 – Jul 30, 2017

Carla-Fernandez © Inka & Niclas / Border-City © FR-EE

Vestido Cobra. Photo: Edgar Aguirre © Carla Fernández / Border-City © FR-EE

 

With the aim to stimulate discussion on the social dimensions of design, the 4th edition of the Design Display series at Autostadt Wolfsburg (Konzernforum) takes Mexico as its main point of departure. Inside the exhibition’s characteristic 20-metre-long glass display, an intercultural bridge between Mexico and the US is figuratively built through two contemporary designer projects. On the one side is Vestido Cobra, a dress created by Mexican fashion designer Carla Fernández who explores how fashion can uphold traditions and still point the way to the future. By bringing Mexican styles and manufacturing techniques into contemporary fashion, she draws attention to the cultural heritage of her homeland within a modern context. The unisex “snake dress” questions gender roles and embraces craftsmanship. On the other side of the glass display is a multimedia installation dealing with the US-Mexican border by architect Fernando Romero. Conceived as an ideal metropolis with multiple urban centres, Romero’s Border City is a bi-national future city designed to straddle the controversial border, serving as a model for new cities around the world. Romero’s visionary project explores the potential to create organized growth and multiple urban centres in sprawling regions lacking infrastructure.
The exhibition’s accompanying magazine On Display continues the discussion through features on the work of the two participating designers, a detailed piece about the border area between Mexico and the United States, and an essay on the influence of traditional craftsmanship on modern Mexican design.

Project, 02.03.2017

Transformation of Berinson´s exhibition space
by Gonzalez Haase AAS

Folie1

 

Galerie Berinson newly housed in an apartment of a historic Gründerzeit building in Charlottenburg. Gonzalez Haase AAS, which designed the interior of the former gallery in Kreuzberg, has travelled west with them. With its parquet floors, stucco-work molding around the ceilings, and a pre-modern floorplan, the new venue is a radically different space than Berinson’s open loft-format from before. To contrast the old-fashioned feel, the architects have remodeled the space with a sense of rigor, simplicity, and clarity. All the built-in walls that weren’t a part of the building’s load-bearing structure were removed, creating an even circulation through the gallery. At the head of its main hallway is an office space with an exposed storage area; along the hall’s other side are entrances to the three exhibition spaces. In line with the architectural concept, the original connections between these exhibition rooms – double doors in the middle of the walls – have been closed up and replaced by neutral openings. Finally, a system of cool lighting from bold, metallic track fixtures is installed in strict parallel to the main axis of the apartment, two in the hallway and two running through the exhibition rooms. These additions are of a characteristic style for Gonzalez and Haase, and serve to unify Galerie Berinson’s new home: the fixtures become a part of the architecture itself, separating and organizing space through their form, size and design.

Project, 13.02.2017

Hello, Robot
Design between Human and Machine
at Vitra Design Museum
Feb 10 – May 14, 2017

 

Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin

Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin

 

When science fiction scenarios are applied to reality: How is robotics changing our lives and what is design’s role within that spectrum? As these technological advancements have found their way into our everyday environs, design has a central responsibility in this process, for it is designers who shape the interfaces between humans and machines. The exhibition Hello, Robot at the Vitra Design Museum examines the current robotics boom from the scope of various disciplines in extensive detail for the first time. Comprising more than 200 exhibits, the exhibition includes robots used in the home, in nursing care, and in industry as well as computer games, media installations, and relevant examples in films and literature. Through this sweeping analysis, the show broadens our awareness of the associated ethical, social, and political issues that arise. As our environment is becoming ever smarter and more autonomous, Hello Robot initiates a necessary discussion on how design cultivates the relationship between human and machine. Accompanying the exhibition, an extensive programme of talks, films, performances, and workshops further illuminates the topic in question from a number of different perspectives.

 

Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs

Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs

Project, 09.12.2016

Vitra Design Museum opened Schaudepot

homepage-vitra-general

Exterior view Schaudepot, located at the Vitra Campus adjacent to the Firestation by Zaha Hadid © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo / Exhibition view of main hall © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann

With the opening of Schaudepot in June 2016, the Vitra Design Museum more than doubled its exhibition space. Designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new addition functions as a venue for presenting key objects from the museum’s extensive collection to the public. Holding the first permanent exhibition of the institution’s sprawling collection, the brick building includes over 7.000 pieces covering all significant epochs and protagonists of design from 1800 to the present, and the estates of designers such as Verner Panton and Charles & Ray Eames. The central focus is a selection of more than 400 key objects of furniture design, including rare works by such designers as Gerrit Rietveld, Alvar Aalto, Charles & Ray Eames, or Ettore Sottsass, but also lesser-known or anonymous objects. What the collection aims to achieve is to document the past and present of interior design, and foster research in a broader context. Schaudepot combines the simple appearance of an industrial warehouse with the complex requirements of a walk-in museum repository. To the outside, the structure presents itself as a monolithic volume constructed from hand-broken bricks, characterised by a completely windowless facade and a simple gable roof. With its understated and dignified appearance, the edifice’s architecture reflects the cultural value of the objects stored within. Through this new expansion, the Vitra Design Museum is addressing the characteristic development in the sphere of design and museums today, as well as communicating the significance of design through discussions, the demonstration of social correlations and the presentation of references to other fields. Now in operation, Schaudepot is one of the world’s largest permanent exhibitions and research facilities on modern interior design.

Feature, 28.11.2016

Gonzalez Haase for the Department Store Oberpollinger —
An interior design overhaul of one of Munich’s retail institutions

photo by Thomas Meyer

photo by Thomas Meyer

After commissioning architect John Pawson to plan a comprehensive spatial reimagining, Munich’s luxury department store Oberpollinger enlisted the Berlin-based studio Gonzalez Haase AAS to design the store’s lower level. Consisting of the kidswear, urbanwear and accessories sections, the basement floor is characterised by an interaction of different layers that follow a certain choreography yet remain non-hierarchical and distinguishable as individual. Architecture studio Gonzalez Haase, who in 2003 began designing the first concept stores for Andreas Murkudis across Germany, takes an interdisciplinary approach to architecture by combining elements from art, cinema and scenography into their projects. Always harking back to the origins of a space as a departure point, the duo tries to see the bare substance in each structure to better analyze its profile. In Oberpollinger’s case, they formed clearly readable spaces with simple lighting and raw, almost improvised surfaces. This combination of elements forms cool environs, elegant in shape, with a detached precision—something that corresponds to the duo’s interpretation of the so-called ‘Berlin style’.

photo left: Thomas Meyer / photo right: Pierre Jorge Gonzalez

photo left: Thomas Meyer / photo right: Pierre Jorge Gonzalez

Interview, 23.11.2016

On Urban Planning and the Role of the Contemporary Architect.
In discussion with Something Fantastic

Architecture is linked to everything and vice versa. An architect should be someone who gathers and synthesizes knowledge from a broad array of fields and is ambitious enough to challenge parochial views and foment a shift in perspective. Following a straight-forward dictum—smart, touching, simple architecture—the Berlin-based architecture collective Something Fantastic aspires to foster changes within the industry and initiate discussions about architecture in a wide spectrum. Contemporary politics, materials, energy and the environment are all topics that coalesce into the core of architecture and what it means today; topics that SF seeks to address through their practice and the site-specific courses they teach at ETH Zurich. The trio’s hopeful view on the future is not solely based on unyielding idealism but also realistic expectations and pragmatic plans. Simply put, they aspire to make the world better.

Here, we engage in a discussion with Julian Schubert, Elena Schütz and Leo Streich about the role of the contemporary architect, the inflexibility of city planning and the need for fewer rules.

photo: Kirsten Bucher

photo: Kirsten Bucher

The architectural practice has inadvertently formed a status quo within the industry that’s quite obsolete. How do you approach this state of things?

We do what we do because we think that somehow we’ll contribute to a situation which allows for better architecture and the amelioration of the field. Our specific role is not to be politicians; our role right now is to design and to give shape.

You’ve stated that we need fewer rules. How do you mean that?

In the field of construction, rules are mostly put into effect to cope with the complexity of what is technically and programmatically possible and what is good and safe for the society as a whole. But rules are often too rigid and they can keep you from developing in a more diverse way. For example, there are more and more regulations emerging in order to prevent gentrification and rising rents. Of course, it’s a good idea, I’m glad i don’t have to leave my place, but at the same time you can’t really change anything in those buildings or do anything to improve certain aspects. And that’s where you see the coarseness of rules as they leave no room to distinguish between someone whose motives are to raise the building’s standards and someone who’s out to to make a financial profit at the expense of others. Architecture is suffocated by more and more rules because the essence of the practice is all about vitality, progress and movement.

Your approach is multi-disciplinary. Do you think architecture is more about how we interact with spaces in general, and not just buildings per se?

To better answer this, it might be helpful to differentiate between architecture and architects. Architecture is from the very small scale of furniture and the process of furnishing a room all the way up to cities and structures, landscapes, and how the urban interacts with the rural. On the other hand, being an architect doesn’t necessarily mean that we only focus on architecture. Personally, I don’t have such a wide understanding of architecture, but I do have a wide understanding of what an architect should be doing.

Which is?

It’s more about the idea of the architect being this individual who culls all kinds of information and synthesizes it into forms and into something that maybe manifests architecturally, that can be touched or whatever. That’s our understanding of practicing as an architect nowadays. This was also the starting point and the outcome of our manifesto. We ask ourselves, how can we engage with the world using the tools, skills and knowledge that we possess. In the end, it’s not necessary to produce architecture per se—architecture meaning all that is built—in order to be considered an architect.

How do you see the role of the architect then?

Ideally, architects will get involved in multiple fields, become more interested in processes and accept that the manifestation of their thoughts can happen indirectly and maybe later down the line—instant gratification isn’t the goal. That also involves that students should veer away from this idea of the form-creator and the necessity for tangibility. We should become more independent from form. It’s about the space, not about the form; there is no form. It’s about people, interaction, performance with the space; that’s what we want to discuss. Well, we believe that limiting yourself to a narrow understanding of design as a discipline that invents nice facades using nice materials is counterproductive. Also, if you stay within the traditional spectrum of architecture as the practice that designs buildings, it is important to take into account the mechanisms that have an impact on the building you’re creating on various scales and levels. How does it interact with the city? How could it be used when the original user has moved out? How is the building operated? How does it complement the adjacent buildings? How does it influence the lives of people who live in and around it? Where do the production materials come from?

But it should not stop there. We are interested in the planning of the city; the real estate market; the social and economic developments within neighbourhoods; the meaning of the building sector in global economics; and the flow of goods and resources in relation to architecture.

photo left: fashion show at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin / photo right: Felix Torkar / photo bottom: Zara Pfeifer

photo left: fashion show at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin / photo right: Felix Torkar / photo bottom: Zara Pfeifer

 

Tell me more about the kind of discussions you’re trying to initiate as architects.

We get the chance to explore this aspect through the courses we teach every year at the ETH Zurich. The one we did in Brazil focused on favelas which are totally stigmatised; they’re seen as something that city planning should eradicate. And, sure, favelas have a lot of problems but they also have potential. For example, they are extremely pedestrian-friendly, they exude a strong sense of community, and you actually see that in the way space is structured. Favelas are intriguing and inspiring—it’s a matter of perspective. Informally built neighbourhoods have a lot to teach. Our goal there was to describe them as habitats and explore how denizens found solutions for urban development.

Speaking of inhabitants’ needs within the city, right now in Berlin, people want a better cycling infrastructure, and in that discussion arises the issue of seasonality. In the summer, the majority of the population opts for cycling, but come winter no one really wants to use a bicycle. So it seems pointless to retain year-round cycling paths considering that the demand for them drops massively in winter. Of course, this is just an example that pops to our head, but it goes to show that seasonal design can be effective in various fields. Cities need to be more flexible and adaptable to needs and seasons. We’d like to discuss this idea of seasonality but our modernist mindset doesn’t think about seasons; to be modern is to not be reliant on nature’s elements. Being dependent on seasons seems anachronistic or even primitive. However, it would be very smart to consider this logical parameter.

Why are cities reluctant to changes?

Cities are complex, wicked problems. Planning is even a super wicked problem—to use a scientific term here. Complex interdependencies render problems almost impossible to solve. But, if a politician thinks that implementing this or that would make his life easier, then the plan in question is put into effect. But in the end, we don’t just sit here making ourselves increasingly frustrated due to our belief of what is good and what is bad in this convoluted state of affairs. Admittedly, things are somehow moving in the right direction… Which means they are becoming more pressing and more obvious. It’s the sort of development that makes what’s important and viable more acute, present and talked about.

Finally, can you give us a selection of three staple books that have significantly influenced your practice and approach to architecture?

In the field of informal housing, Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments by John Turner, and Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones by Edwin Maxwell Fry. Generally and conceptually, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander. And, last but not least, Wie funktioniert das? Technische Vorgänge, in Wort und Bild erklärt (in English: How does this work?) published by Allgemeiner Verlag.

Interview by Effie Efthymiadi

photo left: Jan Bitter / photo right: Helen Levitt, 1988

photo left: Jan Bitter / photo right: Helen Levitt, 1988

Feature, 16.11.2016

Future Architecture Platform –
Exploring new common grounds
and merging innovative ideas in architecture

FAP Homepage foto

 

Initiated in 2014 by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana, Future Architecture is the first European platform dedicated to bringing ideas on the future of cities and architecture closer to the public. The initiative unites museums, festivals and producers, and promotes a new generation of creatives through a vibrant programme of outstanding architectural events in a number of European cities. Individuals from various disciplines get the chance to present and apply new ideas on architecture concerning both our current reality and the near future. At the core of the concept lies the question: How can architecture evolve and how should it be shaped moving forward? The aim is to make complex issues of architecture comprehensible to everyone, and nurture a more sustainable living environment.

“Ideas promoted through the Future Architecture Platform show that, for the emerging generation of professionals, architecture is not necessarily an activity whose sole purpose is to build, but rather a field of intellectual research. This generation feels the need to consider all of architecture’s different aspects, to change the understanding of it as a business model, and to re-establish the discipline’s commitment to society. They show architecture as a way of thinking, observation and analysis of the modern world in which we live and operate.” — Matevž Celik, platform leader and director of the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO), Ljubljana, Slovenia. 

Budding talents within the multifaceted spectrum of architecture explore and share their ideas at exhibitions, workshops, lectures and more. Creatives who apply to the programme are matched to members of different institutions and organisers in order to present innovative ideas in synergy. So far, among a number of different events included in the first year, Something Fantastic’s lectures and conferences at Swiss Architecture Museum Basel,S AM Basel, and CANactions Kiev discussed the design intelligence of arrival cities and the importance of collective spaces. Also, the architecture office Plan Común explored the power of micro-interventions in public spaces with their exhibition “Common Places” in Nove Fužine. And acclaimed writer Jack Self suggested using financial conditions of debt as a design tool to create high-quality and inexpensive homes at S AM Basel.

bildschirmfoto-2016-11-16-um-13-53-38

Project, 01.11.2016

Competition for a site use plan for
the Spreepark in Berlin – 3rd place entry

collage by Holzer Kobler

Coney Island in 1904; Joan Littlewood and Cedric Price’s designs for the Fun Palace from the 1960s; Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s analysis of 1970s Las Vegas — these are just a few examples that assert the relevance of utopian ideas in the conception of amusement parks in the last century. What they all have in common is the integration and interplay of diverse forms of art — be it visual arts, film, music, literature, design, or architecture — while throughout concerned with inventiveness, a display of the latest technologies, and reanimations of the past via visions of the future.

The development of an art- and culture-focused concept for the Spreepark, a former amusement park, builds on this legacy, raising the interesting question of what entertainment can be today. The potential for further expansion and reinterpretation of the term “amusement park” or “amusement” via cultural development lies in the establishment of a structure that transfers the link between the nostalgic and the present-day onto a forward-looking culture and topography of amusement. Taking the nostalgic aura of the Spreepark and building upon it with integrations of art, architecture, design, and technology, a simultaneous interweaving takes place between that which has been left behind and the sights, activities, and experience now available. Following the principle of collage, the idea was to superimpose over the preexisting structure a linking system creating fluid transitions between the extant and the new. This new structure creates a unified narrative space accommodating the spatial and the temporal, the dormant and the interactive. Realised in collaboration with Hager Partner, Holzer Kobler Architekturen, Tourismus Plan B  and Runze & Casper Werbeagentur.

bildschirmfoto-2016-11-01-um-14-32-21 bildschirmfoto-2016-11-01-um-14-32-30

All collages by Holzer Kobler

Project, 18.10.2016

Crossing Geographical and Cultural Borders
The Veddel Embassy in Venice
Oct 18 – 22, 2016

On the occasion of the 15th International Architecture exhibition in Venice, the Goethe-Institut organised the program Performing Architecture comprising five projects that are closely connected to this year’s exhibition in the German Pavilion. Merging architecture, choreography and the performing arts, the series of events seeks to address a set of pressing questions. How does a multicultural society change a city? How do people with diverse cultural, religious, social and political backgrounds encounter one another, and how can they all make an adopted city their shared home? The focal point of this year’s programme is the project “The Veddel Embassy: Representing Germany”. The temporary embassy will bring the migratory, multicultural reality of the Hamburg district of Veddel to Venice to offer a space for discourse and cultural exchange. What used to be the departure point for German emigrants in the past, is now an arrival quarter. All migration movements of the last 70 years have passed through the area of Veddel; immigrants from over sixty different countries have been living here for generations in peaceful coexistence, forming a new society. Around 60 inhabitants of the small island in the river Elbe will come to Venice for a week and invite everyone to become part of an enriching process. The Veddel Embassy will turn into a place of enlightening encounters. Delving into the reality of life on Veddel conveys an idea of what the future holds for Germany as an immigration country. In Venice, the residents present their projects, ideas, ideals, and their home in order to form a substantial discussion with both the international guests of the Biennale as well as with the multicultural citizens of Venice.