Danish architecture firm 3XN has recently completed a mirrored-glass cuboid building in Washingtonplatz, one of the most prominent squares in Berlin. Originally a competition entry for Deutsche Bahn’s new headquarters, cube berlin was conceived as a ‘sculptural centerpiece’ with a more delicate balance of context and content than typically expected of an office building. “When we began the design process,” Torben Østergaard, 3XN Partner in Charge of the project, said in a press statement, “our ambition was to create a building that would contribute to the animation of the square. We wanted to engage by-passers while providing top-notch office spaces.” The triangulated facade of the 10-story building was designed to accomplish many of the firm’s goals using only 12 distinct glass elements. By pulling the facades inwards on the lower floors, the building provides partially-sheltered public spaces that enter into a dialogue with the recently-completed Main Railway Station Lehrter Bahnhof. The surroundings are reflected like a kaleidoscope in the building’s double-skin facade, which was engineered to yield substantial daylight, natural ventilation, and protection from solar heat gains. The multifaceted elevations are designed to provide additional outdoor spaces on the upper floors that promote interaction among its occupants. “The architectural body defines a soft - yet articulate - transition between inside and public space while allowing people to access outside platforms at every level and provide for a strong street-level interaction,” the firm’s website explains. The firm has billed cube berlin as the “smartest building in Europe” for its integration of data-collecting technology throughout the building that can be observed and managed using an app that occupants and visitors alike. The app is designed to encourage sustainable behavior, identify optimal workspaces based on its occupants’ unique preferences, and connect people to the overall square. Cube berlin is the second building 3XN has completed in the city, following the Royal Danish Embassy in 1999.
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Architecture serves as more than just a backdrop—in our lives or in literature. In the four books below, released in the past year, the domestic and urban environments are just as central to the stories as the human protagonists. Oval by Elvia Wilk Art and architecture writer Elvia Wilk’s debut novel Oval (Soft Skull Press) takes place in a parallel-present Berlin—a weird version of our already strange techno-unreality where atop of the defunct Tempelhof Airport a great mountain, The Berg, has been placed. (The idea for 1,000-meter artificial mountain is borrowed from a 2009 proposal by Mela Architects.) What was once the largest open space in a rapidly-changing urban Europe is now an experimental eco-village of supposedly sustainable houses. Oval’s scientist protagonist, Anja, lives in one of these houses with her partner Louis, a sought after “consultant," meaning that in this semi-dystopian world he's Berlin’s version of an artist, someone who serves as more or less a decorator to a corporation or an NGO's reputation. The already dysfunctional home, itself revealed to be a piece of radical architecture (no spoilers here), decays and becomes wild as the narrative progresses, while the urban topography of Berlin is radically transformed by gentrification and other disasters. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado The origin of the word “archive” can be found in the Greek word for a house for superior magistrates. It is this etymology, by way of Jacques Derrida, that opens Carmen Maria Machado’s forceful In the Dream House (Graywolf), a memoir of an abusive relationship between two women and an essay on how stories are and aren’t told and remembered. “I was taken with the use of house (a love of haunted house stories, I’m a sucker for architecture metaphors),” she explains in the introduction to her own archival intervention. Each brief chapter is titled “The Dream House as [...],” a blank most frequently filled by a genre or form, but also architecture: “A Barn in Upstate New York,” for example. The walls of this “dream house” are flexible, able to contain and constrain so much. “Places are never just places in a piece of writing,” writes Machado. “If they are, the author has failed.” Morelia by Renee Gladman Reading Morelia by Renee Gladman (Solid Objects) feels like coming to in a foreign city, head rich with the haze of several-doses-too-many of cough syrup. It is a city where you are maybe unwanted but maybe belong. It is a city of much violence and some wonder. This short novel uses many misunderstandings and misrememberings to create a linguistic geography, spatializing the process of reading and writing fiction to take the shape of a fictional, dislocated city perhaps called Sespia. “Could syntax become a city?,” asks Morelia’s protagonist as they try to recall the meaning of an errant foreign word, one discovered in a book of medieval architecture. If not for her protagonists, syntax nearly always can become a city or something like one for Gladman herself. Her writing has an abiding interest in the way language and bodies move through urban space. Her Ravicka novels tell a story about its eponymous city as much as anything else and Morelia’s cover is decorated with one of Gladman’s “prose architectures,” drawings that render sentences into skylines. A volume of her architectural drawings accompanied by a text from theorist and poet Fred Moten, One Long Black Sentence, is forthcoming in 2020. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom Sarah M. Broom introduces her then-incomplete memoir project, published as The Yellow House (Grove Atlantic), to her brother, nervous of her digging into family matters, in intentionally vague terms: “When he asks about my project, I am imprecise, lofty, saying I am writing about ‘architecture and belonging and space.’” This characterization is not entirely disingenuous. The National Book Award-winning The Yellow House is not just the tale of a house—now gone—but of New Orleans as an urban and social palimpsest. Moving out from the yellow shotgun house and her own life and the lives of her family members, Broom maps New Orleans across history to unpack the complex and fractured narratives of race and class embedded in the city’s architectural logic.
Installation artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov unveil their architectural influence at the Tchoban Foundation
“During the renaissance a lot of artists did everything,” says Emilia Kabakov in a video released by Berlin’s Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing. And she and her artistic collaborator Ilya Kabakov have done just about everything. Pioneers of installation art, the U.S.S.R-born, U.S.–based duo’s work, as well as Ilya’s earlier solo projects, have become seminal examples of conceptual and spatial practice in the annals of contemporary art. Installation work and architecture often have shared affinities—not only by virtue of being architectonic in nature but also often installations must be planned and built, relying upon architectural know-how and construction practices. As with buildings, installations nearly always begin as something else: drawings, texts, or models. The Kabakovs’ illustrations and maquettes are now on display at Tchoban Foundation in an exhibition titled In the Making: Ilya & Emilia Kabakov. From Drawing to Installation that opened this past month and will remain on view until February 23, 2020. On display are watercolors and drawings for The Toilet (1992), one of the first installations that Ilya and Emilia embarked on together. Ramshackle public toilets housing all the details of an ad hoc apartment were first exhibited next to the Fridericianum museum for Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany. There are also drawings of The Red Pavilion which was shown at the 1993 Venice Biennale, and the Palace of Projects, a 23-foot-tall spiral structure packed with 61 smaller installations over two levels, on permanent display at the Zollverein in Essen, Germany. Unbuilt works are also featured, like The Vertical Opera, which was meant to be performed at the Guggenheim. Ilya Kabakov is one of the most prominent Soviet-born artists to reach global acclaim. Living within the Soviet Union until 1987, early in his career he spent around half the year illustrating children’s books as an “official” artist, using the rest of his time to develop his other projects, such as the pioneering installation The Man Who will Fly into Space From His Apartment. In the 1970s and 80s, he was a central figure to the unofficial Moscow Conceptualism movement. He began collaborating with Emilia in the late 1980s and they later married. Since then all their projects have been realized together. Their work is distinguished by its elaborate construction of interior spaces, at once fantastic and realistic, with various furnishings, knickknacks, letters, and other objects from daily life. Their walkable spaces, which they term "total" installations, evoke the peculiar lives of imagined occupants, connecting issues of memory and personal narrative with grander utopian ideals. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ8Rj7wIe4s&feature=youtu.be
Many consider Berghain, a nightclub in a former East Berlin power plant, to be one of the world's best clubs, but despite its reputation, few images of the interior are available online. That's thanks in part to a strict no-photos policy, which allows Berghain patrons to enjoy a weekly 36-hour techno sound bath in whatever state of sobriety or undress feels most comfortable. Another reason for Berghain's mystique? It can be really hard to get in. The club (actually a few venues in one) has a more-or-less inscrutable door policy; there are multiple online forums that give first-timers tips on how to not get rejected. Fortunately for the curious, Reddit user throwawayforlewdstuf has created a pretty accurate five-minute Berghain walkthrough in the popular PC game Minecraft. Check it out: The clip starts with the approach, a long gravel path off the main road. It moves through the door, coat check, and onto the ground floor, then up the stairs to the main dance floor. The first-person walker creeps up to Panorama Bar, the house-focused club within Berghain. The IRL interiors feature photos by Wolfgang Tillmans, a cafe that serves delicious banana ice cream, and ravers wearing mostly black. The space was designed by Berlin's studio karhard in 2004. While the walkthrough feels thorough, it doesn't capture the dancers, lights, music, or energy that makes the club—any club—worth visiting. This is far from the only time a notable space has been reconstituted in Minecraft. In November, users created a tour of Microsoft's Redmond, Washington, headquarters. Before that, the entire country of Denmark, Westeros from Game of Thrones, and Palladio’s Villa Rotonda were constructed virtually in the game. h/t Resident Advisor
For those who want to take in history, design, and nightlife, Berlin is the place. Visiting and want to take in some of the sights and sounds? Or on a trip for the Bauhaus centennial? The city has something to offer everyone, and AN has compiled a list of what those with design on the brain should check out. The Chipperfield Kantine Joachimstrasse 11 10119 Berlin Mitte Rosenthaler Platz The office of English architect David Chipperfield is inside of a converted piano factory in Mitte. The redbrick building sits behind a spare, bright white courtyard where the architect has designed a beautifully detailed concrete box that also houses the restaurant Kantine. A reasonably priced menu of fresh local products served on spare Chipperfield-designed tableware—it is the best lunch spot in the city. Trouvé Schwedter Strasse 9 10119 Berlin trouve-berlin.de This store is a fantasyland of objects for architects and designers. Its owners, Michel Vincenot and Sabine Riedel, source lighting, seating, storage, tables, and graphics by preeminent European designers of the 20th century: Carlo Scarpa, Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Christian Dell, and German designers from the Bauhaus. This Wilhelm Wagenfeld glass tea service is 200 euros (approximately $233). Hotel Oderberger Oderberger Strasse 57 10435 Berlin hotel-oderberger.berlin A Neo-Renaissance-style hotel over a 19th-century public swimming pool makes this a very Berlin experience. It’s reasonably priced, and surrounded by cafes, bars, the trendy shopping street Kastanienallee, and Mauerpark. The park is also a unique “free park” where all sorts of public gatherings go on through the night, and the grass is untended, as Berliners don’t want chemicals used to maintain any public landscape. Topography of Terror topographie.de Berlin has multiple reminders of its fraught and charged history. Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum are powerful design statements, but equally powerful and less well known is the Topography of Terror Museum. On the site of what was once the headquarters of the Nazi Secret State Police, SS, and Reich Security, it was designed in 2010 by Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz Hallmann. It is a truly frightening architectural experience. The Paris Bar Kantstrasse 152 10623 Berlin parisbar.net A bright red neon sign over the entrance announces The Paris Bar, the legendary Charlottenburg late night art bar. Its walls are covered with art from its regular patrons. Several years ago, it had to auction off its Martin Kippenberger for $3 million to pay back taxes. It’s the Odeon of Berlin, and its steak frites are the best in the city—but unlike its New York counterpart, it can’t make a decent martini. Pauly Saal at Jewish School for Girls Auguststrasse 11–13 10117 Berlin paulysaal.com maedchenschule.org Alexander Beer was the chief architect for the Jewish community of Berlin, and in 1927 he designed a girls’ school at Auguststrasse 11-13 in Mitte. It is a rare example of the modernist Neue Sachlichkeit style, with beautifully crafted materials. The school was eventually closed, Beer died in a concentration camp, and the building was confiscated by the government. The school was repurposed in 2012 as the Center for Art and Dining Culture, which is open to the public. Besides art galleries, it holds a New York delicatessen, Mogg & Melzer, and the pricey but excellent Pauly Saal Restaurant.
Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron has released revised renderings for its four-story addition to Berlin's Kulturforum (Culture Forum) complex. The firm's winning entry for the Museum of the 20th Century, first revealed in 2016, is intended to increase gallery space for the Mies van der Rohe–designed Neue Nationalgalerie, store artworks, and connect the different cultural institutions in the area. The design is developed in collaboration with the Neue Nationalgalerie, the Berlin State Museums, and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The building nods to the nearby Matthew Church in both its materiality and form, with its pixelated brick patterning and a vernacular gabled roof profile. The design also references warehouses, barns, and train stations. News renderings show a building with distinct facades on each side and multiple entry points that open to different parts of the cultural complex and the city, with a central area for showcasing large-scale modernist art. The multiple-entry design also allows for events to take place in a screening theatre outside of regular museum hours. Overall, the museum demonstrates a decidedly urban ethos in fully embracing its surrounding context, from the architecture by van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun to much older structures. According to Jaques Herzog, "Our urban planning concept for the Kulturforum is a concept of density, not of emptiness. It organizes an interplay of buildings put into precise relation with each other, and it also initiates the interaction of the cultural institutions established in those buildings."
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s multi-story studio is located in an old 19th-century brewery in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. The combination artist’s studio, materials research laboratory, and fabrication workshop is outfitted with elegant Hans Wegner furniture, displays of Eliasson projects, artwork prototypes, and a glass-walled kitchen for employees’ daily lunches. Inside this calm, but busy, workshop there is now an architecture office. Directed by Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann, Studio Other Spaces is a natural outgrowth of the large-scale public sculptures and installations that Studio Olafur Eliasson has been creating since the mid-1990s. Eliasson has long had an interest in architecture, running an art school called the Institute for Spatial Experiments and working for many years with Einar Thorsteinn, an architect and geometry expert who was a follower of Buckminster Fuller. Studio Olafur Eliasson was also part of the James Corner–Diller and Scofidio + Renfro design team for New York’s High Line park. For several years the art studio has had major clients commissioning projects that were really exterior curtain walls, like the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall, designed with Copenhagen-based firm Henning Larsen (and winner of the 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award), which has a facade of quartz-like hexagonal sections. Eliasson writes that he believes the “culture sector in our society is more likely to create change than the public sector, the politicians, or the private sector.” This new architecture office is perhaps a vehicle to combine his dramatic public art with a pragmatic social program. This desire by designers and artists to also be architects has a long lineage going back to the Renaissance through the Vienna Secession, and today we see it with artists like James Wines of SITE or industrial designers like Pentagram and Thomas Heatherwick. Given all the requirements of building, it is still not common for an architect to be grounded in art, but with the capabilities of today’s digital practice and the range of large-scale public art, we may start to see more of these professional distinctions erode. Studio Other Spaces’ recent projects and its facility with spatial design shown here is not just branding, but sophisticated architecture. Head of design in Studio Olafur Eliasson, Behmann is an educated and licensed architect and has been consulting on the studio’s architectural projects since 2001, though the studio only recently began to design major monuments all over the world. The architecture office currently has eight architects on staff, all with different backgrounds. Eliasson said he admires architects because “they build buildings for people who are not interested in buildings—they just work in them, or they just sleep in them, or they just eat in them.” This a very good start for practicing architecture. Ilulissat Icefjord Park Competition The park design uses melting ice to shape space based on a unique design strategy where ice is at once the formwork of a concrete structure and the focal point of the resulting space. Icebergs were harvested directly from the nearby ice fjord to create an exhibition building, called the Ice Void, which harbors the memory of the ice that was used to shape it in its walls. Linked to the Ice Void outdoors by a 360-degree path, the Sun Cone building defines the park. The light glass structure of the Sun Cone positions the visitor center directly in the landscape and offers guests a spectacular panoramic view of the surroundings and the Arctic sun. The park helps make the overwhelming experience of visiting the ice fjord comprehensible—providing visitors with a scale for contemplating and relating to the awe-inspiring ice fjord. Fjordenhus Vejle, Denmark The new headquarters of Kirk Kapital rises directly from the harbor of the city of Vejle, Denmark. Accessible by footbridge, the 75-foot-tall building is formed by four intersecting cylinders with brick facades that have rounded negative spaces, creating complex curved forms and arched windows. The brickwork incorporates fifteen different tones of unglazed brick, making a visually rich surface; blue and green glazed bricks are integrated into the carved-out sections to produce color fades that enhance the sense of depth. The ground floor is open to the public and includes two water spaces that are visible from viewing platforms. Facades of Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre Reykjavik, Iceland Olafur Eliasson and his studio designed the show-stopping facade of the Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects. Reminiscent of the crystalline basalt columns commonly found in Iceland, the facade was built from a modular, space-filling structure called the quasi-brick. The quasi-brick is a twelve-sided polyhedron consisting of rhomboidal and hexagonal faces. When stacked, the bricks leave no gaps between them, so they can be used to build walls and structural elements. The combination of regularity and irregularity in the modules lends the facade a chaotic, unpredictable quality that could not be achieved through stacking cubes. The modules incorporate panes of color-effect filter glass, which appear to be different colors according to how the light hits them; the building shimmers, reacting to the weather, time of day or year, and the position and movements of viewers. Your rainbow panorama Aarhus, Denmark In 2007 Studio Olafur Eliasson won a competition to transform the rooftop of Aarhus Art Museum in Denmark. It offers visitors sweeping views of the city, the sky, and the distant horizon. The elevated 360-degree walkway is 492 feet in diameter and glazed with rainbow-colored glass. Visible from afar, the work divides Aarhus into various color zones and acts as a beacon for people moving about the city—an effect that is heightened at night when lights running the circumference of the walkway illuminate it from within.
Cyprien Gaillard’s 3-D "Nightlife" offers mesmerizing look at cities and their histories of resistance
Marcel Duchamp Prize-winning artist Cyprien Gaillard’s film Nightlife (2015), currently on view for the first time in the United States at Gladstone Gallery in New York, is a portrait of the living city. Gaillard, who was born in Paris and lives and works between New York and Berlin, practices across media, including photo, film, and sculpture. He is known for his meditations on memory, history, and failure—including work on the legacy and present of modern architecture. His latest film, Nightlife, was filmed with advanced imaging techniques and drones, and the camera flows and glides between close-up, abstract shots to floating arial views with ease. Upon entering the gallery, a nautilus shell in a recessed light box mounted in a black wall marks the entrance to the screening area. Viewers are offered 3-D glasses, which enhance the hallucinatory, ecstatic nature of the piece. Though comprising seemingly abstract shots—swaying trees, fireworks, city streets, aerial views of buildings, all, of course, shot at night—the film is deeply allegorical, telling a complex history of revolution and resistance through objects, plants, and buildings that live and breathe as characters. Presented without caption or narration, the film advances in what might be described as four acts through Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Berlin, coming full circle in Cleveland again. The film opens on an almost indiscernible closeup of a plant before moving on to Rodin’s The Thinker, outside the Cleveland Museum of Art. The spinning camera revels in the sculpture’s apparent decay, the result of a 1970 bombing by the radical left-wing organization the Weather Underground. Nightlife then advances to Los Angeles, where it depicts dancing, rioting trees on the streets of the city—primarily the Hollywood Juniper, a non-native species that has been a recurring motif in Gaillard’s work. Shored up against the architectural forms, the trees not only trouble the boundaries of natural and artificial, but also evoke notions of indigeneity, migration, and belonging. The trees' movements might also be read more explicitly as a reference to the so-called L.A. riots of 1992 and to other forms of civil action and resistance. Though arguably all of Nightlife depicts the city as protagonist, the most explicitly architectural moment is the third act, which features the Berlin Olympiastadion. Built for the 1936 Olympics, the stadium served as a monument to the Third Reich. It now functions as a space for a variety of events, including an annual fireworks competition, the Pyronale, which is displayed in the film in explosive technicolor. The film returns to Cleveland, landing on American runner Jesse Owens's Olympic oak tree planted at the Ford Rhodes High School. Owens, whose four gold medal wins as a black athlete at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany flew in the face the Third Reich’s extensive racist propaganda campaign, was awarded an oak sapling for each of his gold medals (the oak tree serves as a symbol of Germany). In lieu of the sound of its settings, the film loops a sample of Alton Ellis's Blackman's Word (1969) throughout, its repetition pulling the viewer into Nightlife’s self-contained world even more completely and unifying the disparate scenes. (Originally featuring the refrain “I was born a loser,” it was re-recorded in 1971 as “I was born a winner.” Critically, both versions feature in the film.) Not merely a vibrant portrait of cities at night, Nightlife traces the residue of history left on the landscape—be it "natural" or built. Nightlife originally appeared at Sprüth Magers in Berlin and is on view at Gladstone Gallery through April 14th. Cyprien Gaillard: Nightlife Gladstone Gallery, 530 West 21st Street,New York, NY Through April 14th
Internationally renowned architect Albert Speer, Jr. died on September 15 at the age of 83. He was one of Germany’s most respected architects and urban planners in his own right, but spent much of his career trying to separate his reputation from his father’s, who served as Adolf Hitler's chief architect. While father and son are tied together by blood, Speer, Sr. and Speer, Jr.'s architectural legacies have left contrasting marks on the built environment. The elder’s radical visions and mostly uncompleted projects are remembered as dark points in architectural history, while Speer Jr.’s modest and progressive approach to city planning have been widely respected within the design community. Speer, Sr., sometimes referred to as "the devil's architect," carried out some of the most flagrant architectural projects of the Third Reich, including the (subsequently demolished) Reich Chancellery, and his intricate plans to turn Berlin into a capital of overwhelming monumental scale, a project which stayed mostly un-completed due to the fall of the Nazi regime. Over the past five decades, Albert Speer Jr. and his Frankfurt-based firm, Albert Speer + Partner, has focused on “human-scale” buildings and sustainable city planning. While Speer Jr. completed numerous projects in his home city of Frankfurt, many of his firm's most renowned projects have been large-scale international commissions. The firm's work ranges from architecture, urban planning, transportation, landscape design and mega-event commissions such as the master plan leading to a successful bid for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup. Other works include international campuses, residential developments, small-scale mixed use developments, educational facilities, and international government buildings. Despite prolonged attempts to overcome his father’s legacy, the architect would occasionally bump up against his family's fascist reputation. When Albert Speer + Partner decided to work on a commissioned project for a courthouse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the firm was accused of working with an authoritarian government, and directly compared to Speer, Sr.’s Nazi legacy. Even-though Speer, Jr.’s discreet, humble and progressive designs were often seen as a conscious attempt to go against his father’s style, comparisons and criticism still arose. Speer Jr.’s family heritage could never be fully erased. The designer of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, Jewish American architect Peter Eisenman, Speer's colleague and friend for many years, reflected on their relationship in the Guardian: "With Albert, there is a bit of an edge, but we are great friends. It's the fascination of the other; Albert always wanted to be a Jewish intellectual, and I always wanted to be a f…[fascist] We can't all be what we want to be.”
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This direct commission in Germany brought Daniel Libeskind back to Berlin for his first residential project in the city. The project, located on a busy corner in the Mitte neighborhood in central Berlin, presented a design challenge: How to carve out 73 desirable one- to four-bedroom apartments on a plot measuring a little less than half an acre? The result is a faceted mid-rise building that negotiates Berlin’s zoning code with varied setbacks, angular windows, and canted walls. In select locations, the building envelope subtly pulls away from the primary facade, creating intimate outdoor balcony nooks. Stefan Blach, principal at Studio Libeskind, said the balconies not only give the facade more depth but also enhance the quality of the units. “There are 70 units, most of which are very small, and even those have a balcony that wraps from the living room to the bedroom. A lot of work went into developing these units—each plan is unique. The coordination between facade and plan was really special in this building.” The project is a showcase for Libeskind’s signature tile design, which wraps all of the street facades and as well as some key interior moments. Produced by manufacturer Casalgrande Padana, the three-dimensional geometric-patterned stoneware tiles, named Fractile, measure approximately two-feet by four-feet and feature unique advanced technology to self-clean and aid in air purification. This is achieved by the application of a specialized titanium dioxide coating that breaks down organic deposits when exposed to the Sun's UV light. The coating is the result of a master agreement signed between Casalgrande Padana and TOTO, a global leader in photocatalytic technology. Fractile is part of Casalgrande’s ongoing efforts to produce bioactive ceramic products capable of interacting with the environment. Of the 3,600 tiles supplied, only 500 were made in a standard production format. The remaining 3,100 tiles are custom shapes made using controlled linear and water jet cuts according to precise drawings. Additionally, every tile was specifically positioned to reflect the A or B sides of the pattern (the two positions of the tiles when rotated by 180 degrees). This specificity allowed the architects to control the overall patterning and reflective effects of the facade. The tiles were delivered in 15 different batches to the site and, due to the complexity of the order, each piece was identified with a unique number to ensure they were correctly positioned. The delivery of the tiles took nine months, with installation taking an additional four months—an outcome that the manufacturer called “high satisfactory, given the parametric complexity of the shapes that needed covering.” The ventilated facade was assembled utilizing a standard anchorage system from Casalgrande in combination with micro-anchors from KEIL. The facade has been built by general contractor PORR Germany and specialized facade consultant Medicke Metallbau. The building had to adhere to the 2013 EnEV energy code, one of the most stringent codes in the world. This limited the quantity of glazing in the project and, in response to the code, the project team specified high-performance triple-glazed units with external louvers. Operable units conform to a standard dimension, while fixed panels absorb irregular geometries of the facade. Studio Libeskind’s project team, led by architect Jochen Klein, encountered some zoning regulations as well, which affected massing strategy. The maximum height of the building was determined by zoning regulations. The required setback from the centerline of the street is minimum 0.4 times the building height, a rule that works to limit the height of the building. This introduced the need for a parapet configuration to allow for a primary street front volume and secondary taller penthouse volume. Blach said the overall height, which was taller than neighboring buildings, was successfully negotiated by the project team due to its prominent corner lot location. "There is a tradition in Berlin that the corner buildings are sometimes even a full story higher than their neighbors." Another regulation relates to the oriels, which are not allowed to consume more than one-third the overall length of the facade, and are limited to a projection of around five feet from the building. In the case of Sapphire, an agreement with the city allowed to the architects to cantilever a freeform volume of space over the sidewalk beyond the plane of the primary facade. With retail shops on the ground floor, underground parking, and a common outdoor area, this high-spirited, contemporary complex stands on land where the Wulffersche iron factory once operated, before being expropriated from its Jewish owners during World War II. Blach said the individuality of the plan and spatial layouts and the translation to the facade were the celebrated successes of this project. "Catering the building to all of the individual tenants who moved in was very special for us—each has inherited a unique apartment that's unlike their neighbors."
It is always exciting to discover the work of an architect whose name you know from history but whose buildings remain a mystery. This is what happened to me on a recent trip to Prague and my “discovery” of Jože Plečnik. His final 1929 building, the Church of the Most Sacred Heart of our Lord, and his small insertions in the Prague Castle were revelations and he is a new hero. But occasionally one discovers the work of an architect whose name does not even register as a footnote in traditional surveys. This is the case of the Rudolf Belling (1886-1972) who is the focus of a new exhibit at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Belling, was, in fact, an artist, primarily a sculptor, who worked on the fringes of architecture yet produced several projects that are highly original and should be better known by architects. His work might best be described as modernist abstraction in the manner of contemporary movements of the period like Constructivism or Expressionism. He argued, like his contemporaries, for a fusion of the arts and he worked in multiple mediums including film, interior decoration, and architecture, in addition to sculpture (his principal medium). Belling was not unknown in his time and was a member of Arbeitsrat für Kunst, the 1918 Novembergruppe, and was featured in Le Corbusier's magazine L’Esprit Nouveau. The exhibit sets out to highlight his belief in a coming together of the arts and notion that culture and architecture were to be guided by tectonic forms rather than “natural” shapes; this was the focus of his practice and teaching. Belling, incidentally, spent several years in New York City, where he fled the Nazis and taught at the Annot Art School and Gallery in Rockefeller Center. I addition to his stunning design (at least in the grainy photographs in the exhibition) for The Scala restaurant in Berlin, he was able to model sculpture into architecture. As Alfred Kuhn pointed out in 1927, for the first time he created “sculpture from the outside in but from the Inside out.” His forms in space may not have been truly revolutionary for his time but he created powerful monuments that were more innovative as architecture than sculpture. His seven-meter-tall advertising sculpture (with Wassili Luckhardt in 1920/21) for the tire maker Pneumatik Harburg-Wien was a very example of how to create memorable roadside architecture and signage. His most powerful and unique architectural projects were a 1923 gas station (with Alfred Gellhorn and Martin Knauthe) for Olex and the two architectural sculptures he designed for Olex and the Villa Goldstein in 1923 (both destroyed). These brought all his influences from Constructivism to Futurism together as a single powerful work. In fact, it may be said that he brought architectural ideas back into sculpture. Finally, he produced beautiful small architecture renderings that seem decades in advance of the Pop style of architectural drawing methods. Rudolf Belling: Sculpture and Architecture runs through September 17 at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. (The video below on Rudolf Belling: Sculpture and Architecture is available only in German.)
German architect Wilfried Wang critiques Herzog & de Meuron's Museum of the 20th Century extension in Berlin
Herzog & de Meuron's winning proposal for the Museum of the 20th Century extension in Berlin has been called into question by German architect Wilfried Wang, the co-founder of Berlin-based Hoidn Wang Partner and (since 2002) the O’Neil Ford Centennial Professor at UT Austin's School of Architecture. Wang believes the Swiss firm’s design is severely lacking in both architectural and urbanist respects. Speaking in The Competition Project (whose editor translated Wang's commentary, which first appeared in the German journal Bauwelt last year), Wang first discusses the project's relationship with its immediate surroundings: Mies van der Rohe's Neue Nationalgalerie (completed in 1968) and the Hans Scharoun’s Berlin Philharmonic concert hall (completed in 1963).
By extending the form of this introverted structure to cover the entire competition site, little or no value is added to the immediate environs. To the contrary, that and the immense surfaces of the facades, right up to the edge of the pedestrian walkways, only serve to diminish the importance of the surrounding buildings. All the trees to the south of the site will disappear, and 90% of the outer walls of the building, regardless of the suggested use of porous brick detailing, are completely closed off.Next in the firing line was the proposal's program:
The corridors stacked over one another, labeled “Boulevards” by the architects, are connected in the quadrants by smaller corridors and stairs. The metaphor, “Boulevard,” is as misleading as was Le Corbusier’s “rue intérieur.” Boulevards are accessible 24 hours a day as open public spaces. In the evenings these corridors will be closed to the public. Rectangular exhibit areas are placed on three levels—not easily accessible to the visitor as a result of the labyrinth-like circulation plan.Wang wasn't too pleased with much of the competition's submissions either. Few, he argued, failed to mediate space between the two already existing icons that inhabit the vicinity. New York studios SO-IL, Snøhetta, and REX were in the running for the $218.8 million project, along with British firms Zaha Hadid Architects and David Chipperfield Architects.
The most extreme anti-urbanistic example honored by the jury with a merit award was OMA’s pyramid-like scheme, completely blocking any relationship between Mies and Sharoun by inserting their own icon in between the two.By contrast, the shortlisted designs that entered the fray during the first open competition, Wang argues, were "more modern, sensitive, and led one to assume that a different solution would be in store." These notions did filter into the competition's final stage, said Wang, with SANAA and Sou Fujimoto's (both from Japan) less disruptive proposed interventions. Note: For his Master’s degree in 1981, Wang researched six cultural centers including London’s South Bank Centre, Paris’s Centre Beaubourg and Berlin’s Kulturforum. In 1992 he published a monograph on the work of Herzog & de Meuron.