Architectural taste.

A friend pointed this out to me in the Süddeutsche Zeitung the other day; four architecture practices  were asked to come up with designs for a gingerbread house, including a specification (well, recipe) and construction drawings.

This is Berlin-based Graft Architects:

and Sauerbruch Hutton:

with others by Coop Himmelb(l)au, and Allmann Sattler Wappner Architekten, München.


PS – I wrote something slightly rude about Graft a while back, because I couldn’t understand their website, but I forgive anyone anything if there’s cake involved.


SLAB Magazine

Strange that having spent so much time idly wandering Berlin-related areas of the web, I hadn’t come across SLAB Magazine before now.  A shame, as it’s jolly good.

A thread running through many of its posts is Berlin’s increasing habit of filling up its gaps with ever blander buildings (something I was hoping only I perceived, and that elsewhere in the city people were spotting groundbreaking new contemporary architecture on a daily basis).

On days when I’m feeling a bit down, it seems that Berlin has lost its confidence at some fundamental level, and seems pathetically grateful for absolutely anything any developer chooses to throw up, in the mistaken hope that a big bland corporate style will lend the city more gravitas.  Which of course it doesn’t.

On days when I’m not feeling down, I give the whole subject no thought at all, in case you’re wondering.

PS – If, like me, you’ve looked at the site and wondered what the word ‘heuristic’ in SLAB’s byline might mean:

1. serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation

2. encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method

All just a facade (3)

Since I mentioned aNC arquitectos‘ alternative proposal to retain and alter the Palast der Republik (too late now, it’s gone of course), they’ve sent me some images, which it would be rude not to show you.

Image below makes an analogy between the evolution of the Schloss, with a possible evolution of the GDR’s Palast der Republik, from its 1970s original construction, through the erecting of a section of temporary ‘Schloss facade’ in 1993, onwards.

As I’ve said before, I think a process of gradually evolving an existing building using interim spaces and temporary structures would have been far more in keeping with the spirit of Berlin than another big, fixed museum, but there you are.  The city authorities were reported to have liked the idea, but sadly didn’t take it to be a serious proposal. Some alternative use layouts for the ‘arena’ extension, showing plan, with section at the bottom:



On sort of a linked theme, it’s worth also mentioning that before the Palast der Republik was demolished, it stood ‘naked’ for a while, stripped of its cladding and asbestos.  During which time, some people called raumlabor berlin did this.

All just a facade (2)

After my recent rant about the planned construction of the Humboldt Forum – a new cultural building which will be disguised to look like Berlin’s lost baroque palace, I suppose I’d better do a follow up.

By the way, if you don’t live here, and know little of Berlin, I should point out that this is a major public issue and ongoing news story, not just a hobby horse of my own; much better writing on the subject can be found.  But it’s mainly in german, so ha.

Late last week, the results were announced of the architectural competition to design the rest of the building, i.e. the bits that are not fake baroque.  It was won by an Italian architect, Francesco Stella.  He came first; slightly confusingly, there were four joint holders of third prize, with no second prize.  (I would have thought that the next best four, if all equal in the eyes of the jury, would hold either joint second or, at a stretch, joint 5th.  No matter.)

The third prize was shared by three well known german practices (Hans Kollhoff, Kleihues + Kleihues, Christoph Mäckler – all much mentioned in this blog) and Verona practice Ricardo Campagnola Architetti.  From my superficial reading, the Kleihues + Kleihues looked the better bet.

In the confusing world of architecture competitions, there were also two ‘purchased designs’, which according to Baunetz went to Berlin pratices nps Tchoban Voss and Reimar Herbst (typically, the Schloss website is less clear about this).

There’s more images of the results at the still-as-terribly-designed-as-ever website for the Berliner Schloss.

It’s the feeling of many that however good the designs submitted, the competition is fundamentally flawed, as it requires that the new architecture is entirely subservient to recreating the footprint and facades of the ‘original’ baroque palace.  I put ‘original’ in inverted commas, because there was no original palace, in the sense that the building evolved over hundreds of years to reach the form that was finally demolished by the GDR after the war.

Taking this idea as a starting point, a while back a Portugese practice aNC arquitectos proposed a thoughtful scheme whereby the existing GDR Palast der Republik building would be gradually extended and adapted to new needs; a concept to my mind far more in keeping with the spirit of Berlin, being cheaper and grittier than the bland leisure complex that will almost certainly result from the current proposals.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to find the images they showed at the Porto conference a few weeks ago.  Their website is a Flash affair, but if you search in it for ‘public projects’ you should find the text.