Architecture is political. While this irks some of us and energizes others, even consciously choosing not to think of buildings politically is taking a political stance. In this way, there is no escape from the politics of architecture and many governments and powerful figures throughout history have embraced the political nature of architecture and used it to further their motives. The construction of buildings is among the clearest and most obvious visual indicators of a society’s power and economic standing, so for a new government trying to project power and prosperity, for example, architecture can be the quickest and most incontrovertible way for the government to show its success. While many dictatorships rely on more intangible strategies as well, like propaganda and the creation of a cult of personality, examining a regime’s approach to architecture can be telling of its values.
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As the boundary that separates work and leisure in the 21st Century continues to be blurred by technology, architects Christoph Hesse and Neeraj Bhatia sought out to uncover a tranquil solution. The pair are co-curating an upcoming exhibition at the Kulturbahnhof Kassel in Germany as part of Experimenta Urbana in a show called “Ways of Life,” which opens July 5th.
German architect and structural engineer Frei Otto (31 May 1925 – 9 March 2015) as well known for his pioneering innovations in lightweight and tensile structures. Shortly before his death in 2015 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize and prior to that he was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2006. Much of his research in lightweight structures is as relevant today as when he first proposed them over 60 years ago, and his work continues to inform architects and engineers to this day.
German architecture firm 22quadrat was inspired by the visual effect created by soundwaves moving through water when designing “impulses,” a brick relief wall in the interior courtyard of the Pallotti Residential Complex in Freising, Germany. The architects derived the concept from a metaphor; a single brick is like a single particle, hardly noticeable on its own but capable of much greater impact when combined with others.
If asked to name buildings by German architect and designer Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940), few people would be able to answer with anything other than his AEG Turbine Factory in Berlin. His style was not one that lends itself easily to canonization; indeed, even the Turbine Factory itself is difficult to appreciate without an understanding of its historical context. Despite this, Behrens' achievements are not to be underestimated, and his importance to the development of architecture might best be understood by looking at three young architects who worked in his studio around 1910: Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius.
HENN and C.F. Møller Architects, of Berlin and Aarhus respectively, have jointly won an international competition to extend the iconic University Hospital RWTH Aachen in Germany. The winning entry, chosen amongst twelve others, responds to RWTH Aachen's existing listed 1970’s hospital with a partially-underground extension embedded in the landscape, seeking to minimize visual impact whilst creating lush green parkland for patients, staff, and the public.
In any city across the world, there are countless examples of unsung architecture – well-designed if inoffensive buildings that strive to please by not standing out from the crowd. For German photographer Paul Eis, these buildings provide the perfect canvas for his work. Displayed on his Instagram account, the_architecture_photographer, Eis captures these buildings in their best light, and then digitally adds in bright colors, elevating these structures from mundane to magnificent.
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