May 8th marks the 70-year anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, when Germany’s Third Reich surrendered to the Allied forces. To commemorate the anniversary, Konstantin von zur Muehlen has released “Spirit of Berlin,” a short color film with historic footage showing everyday life in the German capital in July 1945 -- just two months after the end of the war.
Is there a growing nostalgia pervading attitudes to civic architecture in Europe? From Berlin's new Royal Palace on the River Spree to Turkey's rekindled fascination with their Ottoman heritage, architecture is becoming the medium of choice for exploring a city's roots and a people's past. In this post originally published by TheLong+Short, Feargus O'Sullivan investigates how many governments and developers have decided that the way to future lies in looking backwards.
Reading about Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in the German press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the building was in Leipzig, not the Middle East. “The tallest building in the world is so German,” saidDer Spiegelwhen the tower opened in 2010. “The Burj Khalifa is an Ossi!" shouted Bild, using the common nickname for East Germans. The headlines were partly right: when East Germany’s old parliament building, the Palace of the Republic in Berlin, was demolished in 2006, several thousand tonnes of steel girders were stripped from its carcass and shipped to the Gulf for use in the construction of Burj Khalifa.
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), named after the Queen and Her Consort, has its foundations in the Great Exhibition of 1851 amidst the wealth, innovation and squalor of the Industrial Revolution. Britain was flooded by prosperity which allowed for the development of major new institutions to collect and exhibit objects of cultural significance or artistic value. The institute’s first director, Henry Cole, declared that it should be “a schoolroom for everyone,” and a democratic approach to its relationship with public life has remained the cornerstone of the V&A. Not only has it always been free of charge but it was also the first to open late hours (made possible by gas lighting), allowing a more comprehensive demographic of visitor.
Their latest exhibition, which opens today, seeks to realign the museum’s vast collection and palatial exhibition spaces in South Kensington with these founding concepts. The interventions of All of This Belongs to You attempt to push the V&A’s position as an extension of London’s civic and cultural built environment to the fore, testing the museum’s ability to act as a 21st century public institution. To do this in London, a city where the notion of public and private is increasingly blurred, has resulted in a sequence of compelling installations which are tied together through their relevance either in subject matter, technique, or topicality.
"Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall’s demise, it is as though a large part of the twentieth century never happened," writes OMA principle Reinier de Graaf in his article for Metropolis Magazine "The Other Truth". "An entire period has been erased from public consciousness, almost like a blank frame in a film." Through the course of the article, de Graaf outlines how the West has rewritten the history of the cold war, erasing the "other truth" that existed for nearly half a century in East Berlin, the USSR, and other soviet-aligned states - a truth that we forget to our peril. It may not be immediately architectural, but the essay provides an interesting look into the political thoughts of de Graaf who, as the principle of one of architecture's most prominent research organizations in AMO, has an important influence on the profession's understanding of the wider world. Read the article in full here.
From March 13, Berlin's Tchoban Foundation Museum for Architectural Drawing will showcase the work of acclaimed Russian artist and architect Alexander Brodsky in the eponymous exhibition "Alexander Brodsky. Works."
Curated by Daria Paramonova, architect and co-curator of the Russian Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale, the exhibition will feature a collection of Brodsky's new and old work and run until June 5.
Learn more about the exhibition and view selected works on display after the break.
One of three runners-up in the 2014 Audi Urban Future Award, the Berlin Team of Max Schwitalla, Paul Friedli and Arndt Pechstein proposed a futuristic and innovative concept for an entirely new type of personal transport. Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as elevator technology and biomimicry, their designs offer a thought-provoking alternative to our existing transportation systems that could revolutionize the city as we know it.
Despite being born in the same era, Expressionism embodies an entirely different architectural sensibility to other proto-modernist movements like the Bauhaus. Its complex forms marked the creation of what we know as the modern metropolis and became one of the iconic architectural styles of the Roaring Twenties. Throughout Europe, over 1,000 expressionist buildings remain standing, yet many are forgotten and not properly preserved.
For the past four years, Niels Lehmann and Christoph Rauhut have been working to document these surviving expressionist landmarks, following their previous book “Modernism London Style.” Their new book, “Fragments of Metropolis – Berlin” presents 135 remaining expressionist buildings in Berlin and the surrounding area, and with your help this incredible collection documenting the landmarks of expressionism will be published, with colorful photography and detailed maps revealing their exact locations. Follow this link to become a supporter and learn more, or continue after the break to see a selection of images from the book.
Speaking to The Guardian, David Chipperfield has stated that he regards the hold of private investment over new architecture in London as an "absolutely terrible" means of building a city. He argues that Berlin - where he spends considerable amounts of time and runs a large office - "is a much more reflective society than ours" because the UK has sunk into "a success-based culture."