BNKR München, Hochbunker. photo: hiepler brunier.
After the Second World War, military edifices constructed for protective purposes were left abandoned and consumed by dismal emptiness. Germany, in particular, is replete with bunkers that in recent years have assumed a variety of new roles, from residential spaces to cultural institutions. One such concrete behemoth built in 1943 in Munich’s Ungererstrasse, houses BNKR, a multifaceted art space offering room for present-day visions without ignoring the past. The main focus of BNKR’s programme is to instigate reflection on our present reality in the realms of art, design and architecture. In the contemporary transformation of the bunker, with its new use and orientation as an art space, an unavoidable tension is created that oscillates between remembering and forgetting, past and future. The project was founded in 2014 , in order to give a format to art and architecture, to promote exchange and dialogue. BKNR collaborates with external curators over the course of one year to develop a programme that uses exhibitions, performances, lectures, discussions, film screenings, concerts and more to raise questions situated in the notion of the ‘in-between’, whether that’s referring to time, space or mental states. Currently on show, the solo exhibition Urban Shelter by Annett Zinsmeister examines the specific history, meaning and transience of shelters.
Heinrich-Heine-Allee; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ralf Brög. Photo Jörg Hempel
Following its opening to the public in February 2016, Dusseldorf’s Wehrhahn line is now in full use and worth revisiting to dissect its singular aspects in more detail. Fifteen years in the making, the recently acquired U-bahn expansion is a refreshing approach to inner-city mobility and a nod to the future possibilities of public transport aesthetics. Collectively designed by artists, architects and engineers from the very outset, the ambitious project offers an unparalleled art and architecture experience to commuters who are invited to immerse themselves in soundscapes, geometric animations and sculptural installations. Here art is not merely showcased on the walls but it has deeply infiltrated the entire structure—each of the line’s six stations have become pieces of art complete with their own thematic character but also seamlessly incorporated in an all-encompassing system. And that’s certainly not the norm when it comes to public transport—the line’s overarching concept initiates a dialogue between disciplines that’s visually perceptible throughout. From acoustic impulses, sound bites and interactive installations to a planetary underworld dedicated to outer space and poetic texts transformed into sculptures, the line’s stops highly elevate the long-neglected notion of the subway. At the Heinrich-Heine-Allee station, artist Ralf Brög designed the three entrances as visual and acoustic venues for the performance of changing sound compositions—an “Auditorium”, a “Theater” and a “Laboratory”. Each of the three model spaces boasts a high-quality sound system, enabling the most wide-ranging acoustic interventions possible.
Space is the place at Benrather Strasse where sculptor Thomas Stricker embedded the vastness of the universe with its tranquility and weightlessness into the confined space of a subway station. To achieve the impression of flying in outer space, stainless steel panels cover the walls and lend the station a futuristic dull, metallic sheen. Like droplets, the dots stamped in the panels fall from the walls, forming a matrix or a kind of Braille that can be identified as encrypted letters while media walls act as windows to the universe.
Benrather Straße, netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Thomas Stricker. Photo Jörg Hempel
At Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation featuring a large screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface transformed through a computer program into visualised data. The constantly shifting dynamic of the ‘outside world’ is presented to those waiting for the next train below. Small virtual creatures build a temporary, fluctuating architecture from the kinetic energy that emerges and vanishes with the city’s daily rhythms.
Schadowstraße; netzwerkarchitekten and the artist Ursula Damm. Photos Ursula Damm and Jörg Hempel
Another crucial element of this feat is the complete absence of advertisements and any sort of commercial placement. Thus, the individual stations become calm public spaces that alleviate commuting stress, render urban movement more pleasurable, and slow down the frenetic pace. Admittedly, exemplary underground stops are nothing new in the map of so-called “art stations”—in Naples the Toledo stop covered in blue-hued mosaics pays tribute to the aquatic world; Stockholm’s Solna station emits the ambience of a villain’s lair complete with a cavernous interior; while in Moscow the Komsomolskaya stop competes with the theatrical flair of opulent palaces. What’s unprecedented about Dusseldorf’s Wehrhan line is that these “art stations” are not merely stand-alone architectural projects but are part of a holistic network that seamlessly connects all six stops under one conceptual direction, creating a multifarious experience.
In a special edition published by Kerber Verlag, the impressive undertaking in public transport is thoroughly presented through photos and text elaborating on the project and the visions of the people involved. The Wehrhahn line is also accompanied by a newly launched website that delves into the line’s concept, process and distinctive characteristics—have a look here.
The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO, Ljubljana) has launched an open call for participation in FARAWAY, SO CLOSE – 25th Biennial of Design, curated by editor and curator Angela Rui and MAO curator Maja Vardjan. The open call is dedicated to designers, architects, filmmakers, graphic designers, interaction designers, illustrators, writers, animators, photographers, researchers and other interdisciplinary agents who see the biennial as an experimental, collaborative platform for testing, developing and sharing their own approaches and expertise around the issues and structure of the new biennial format. From 25 May to 29 October 2017, FARAWAY, SO CLOSE will present seven local interventions under the main exhibition umbrella. For this, seven creative figures from Slovenia have been selected for their projects outside the field of design and paired with international designers to form a team. Selected participants will work within these teams and together they will use design and architecture as tools for investigating contemporary issues.
Read more in an interview with the two curators on Domus.
Application deadline: 10 July 2016
Kick-off event: 15 September 2016, Ljubljana
More information and application: www.bio.si/en
Top gate: Felix Torkar; Man at door: Offenbach, Portrait: Arthur Seitz Foto ©Jessica Schäfer; Flowers: Dong Xuan Center, Berlin Foto ©Kiên Hoàng Lê; Breakthrough: ©Kirsten Bucher; Houses: Quinta Monroy, Iquique, 2004, Architekt: Elemental, Chile Foto ©Tadeuz Jalocha; Mosque: Moschee in der Sandgasse, Offenbach Foto ©Judith Raum, 2010
For the 15th Venice Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, the German contribution cuts into the walls of the historic pavilion building in order to address the acute refugee situation. A powerful metaphor of opening emerges and encourages a discourse on new ideas and reliable approaches to the integration of asylum seekers. Walls are being broken in Venice as a commitment to the inviolable dignity of humankind. There will be no closed doors, day or night. The pavilion is open. Germany is open. The current refugee situation is part of a massive worldwide flow of migrants. What are the challenges facing cities with incoming refugees and migrants? How, in the future, can Germany’s “arrival cities” such as Offenbach respond, hypothetically shaping the conditions that create a good “Arrival City”? And how can architecture and urban design contribute to this process? The team of the Deutsches Architektur Museum (DAM) examines these questions at this year’s International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. With the exhibition Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country the DAM uses examples from Germany’s Arrival Cities to pose for discussion a series of theses developed in collaboration with the Canadian author Doug Saunders. His book Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World has inspired a shift in perspective on immigrant districts – a shift that is also applicable to Germany. Although these districts are typically characterized as “problem areas,” they offer residents and new arrivals the most important prerequisites of an Arrival City: affordable housing, access to work, small-scale commercial spaces, good access to public transit, networks of immigrants from the same culture, as well as a tolerant attitude that extends to the acceptance of informal practices. The design concept, developed by the architecture office Something Fantastic, underlines the strong statement of this year’s German Pavilion.
For the 15th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Goethe-Institut has created Performing Architecture, a programme which brings the interfaces between architecture, choreography and the performing arts into focus. Picking up cues from the exhibition at the German Pavilion Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country and the Biennale’s motto Reporting from the Front, the programme transforms the urban space of Venice into a stage for artistic encounters, visions and explorations: How do we sink into the experienced and built reality of our cities? How do we encounter other people in this reality? Which values do they negotiate, which living spaces, which experiential spaces? What ideas of Heimat do they carry? Five events were created for the time of the exhibition: In Act and Tought – A Score for Six Performers, ARCH+ features #50, Culinary Lessons, The Veddel Embassy: Representing Germany and Conviviumepulum / Culinary Lessons.
How will social conditions shape the built environment in Germany? Which factors trigger urban and regional changes? The publication Speculations Transformations addresses pending spatial transformations in Germany and speculates about their consequences for Baukultur: What is it like to live in a city that no longer pays in euros but in watts? What happens, when roads are no longer used by cars? What would the consequences be, if Germany were to measure its economic success in terms of civic wellbeing? Speculations Transformations was conceived within the framework of the “Baukulturatlas Deutschland 2030/2050” research project and commissioned in 2011 by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). With an emphasis on “thinking in alternate futures”, the book reveals the triggers and drivers of spatial developments, while identifying the societal negotiations leading to specific built environments. This involves currently conceivable futures, already manifest in the present, yet subject to highly diverse evolutions.
The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) presents the project Home at Arsenale – a curated library, in the Pavilion of Slovenia at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition. Matevž Celik, director of MAO, appointed as curators for the presentation in Arsenale the internationally acclaimed architects and educators Aljoša Dekleva and Tina Gregori? as curators. They conceived a 1:1 spatial structure, an abstract home performing as a curated library that operates as a platform for exploring the concepts of home and dwelling during the Biennale Architettura 2016 and beyond. The project Home at Arsenale proposes the concept of home as a public curated library that opens up a platform for multiple responses on the topics of home and dwelling within the current spatial and social conditions. Challenging the private/public dichotomy within the dwelling domain the project suggests a transformation of private home into possible temporary-public home environment.
To develop a more concrete understanding of approaches to the complex expectations placed on public space, the Akademie der Künste and the Goethe-Institut teamed up to stage the 36-hour Factory of Thought Public Space: Fights and Fictions. The conference, with the curatorial advisory by BUREAU N is held as part of the exhibition DEMO:POLIS – The Right to Public Space. Given the crisis of representative democracies, participation, and civil society burnout: How can we use public space for the perspective of an enlightenment in the 21st century? Public space is intrinsically linked to the parameters of each particular culture and society and its historical changes. With worldwide migration, social conflicts, and global economic and financial interests or the emancipation from authoritarian structures, public space has been facing massive challenges over the last decades. Across the globe, it has become the scene of violent changes and fundamental paradigm shifts. Between security and surveillance, participation and commercialisation, artistic and social freedom and the demonstration of power, public space is where the future of democracy is being decided.The Kooperative für Darstellungspolitik’s spatial design facilitates concentrated thought in parallel structures for kick-off speeches and think tanks, discussions, interviews and artistic interventions, and provides room for informal exchanges in open platforms. NIGHT SHIFT, a party hosted by Making Spaces c/o NICHE Berlin and Creamcake is part of the night program.
Galerie Jochum Rodgers‘ exhibition Interiors Palazzo Scalini travels to the era of the Liberty style, where remarkable interior objects by Italian Art nouveau designer, ceramicist and visionaire Galileo Chini in collaboration with architect Carlo Spiccianl, will be on show. Chini’s fascination with cultures took him around the world, most notably to Siam, where he became inspired by Eastern aesthetics. He later incorporated these details into highly decorative furniture pieces, most notably for the joint commission with Spiccianl for the redesign of Palazzo Scalini. Upholstered leather chairs in striking red and gold are some of the works from this collaboration, which are on display for the first time in the exhibition. The parallel presentation of design innovation – Light by Stilnovo, Italy 1950-1960, documents lamps from the early production of the iconic lighting studio Stilnovo – with numerous models from the manufacturers’ 50’s and 60’s heyday.
Courtesy of Galerie Jochum Rodgers
Social, political, economic and cultural issues are increasingly being framed and contested in the public realm, and consequently city dwellers are demanding their say in the decisions affecting these public spaces. DEMO:POLIS – The Right to Public Space, the Akademie der Künste’s major spring exhibition is an ambitious inquiry into these timely issues surrounding public space. Through an exhibition format, programme of special events, interactive discussions, symposiums, and a publication DEOM:POLIS addresses the options the public has in shaping its own cities – asking questions – how can we reclaim public space and tactically use it? And how do we imbue it with new meaning? The exhibition, curated by the architect Wilfried Wang, who is the deputy director of the architecture section of the Akademie der Künste, shows spatial designs and urban planning that affects small squares to entire strips of coast. Additionally, there is documentation from demonstrations, protests and art interventions that were known to ‘safeguard’ public space, such as White American Flags by Wermke/Leinkauf. Also part of the exhibition are profiles on projects La Ventana al Mar in San Juan by Puerto Rican architect Andrés Mignucci and Sports Park Stožice in Ljubljana by Sadar + Vuga, which amongst others, are deemed extraordinary examples of negotiating Neoliberalization versus Democratization. And artists’ observations of transforming cities and the ‘future city’ also feature, as seen in the work of Michael Ruetz (Timescape) Michael Najjar (Netropolis) and Nuno Cera (Futureland). Every Tuesday the “Urban Parliament” opens a forum for debates, in which, among other aims, activists from city initiatives and visitors will prepare the “Berlin Urban Rights Charta”. During a 36-hour conference “Public Space: Fights and Fictions” from 19 to 21 May, a cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, participants from around the world will discuss the developments and threats to public space; www.adk.de/demopolis.