Germany's contribution to the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale scrutinizes the architecture of representation, its crisis, and potential cessation. Aside from the universal ambition of modernism to break with the past, Germany has undergone a number of decisive political and societal breaks during the last hundred years. Through the question of how the nation "(re)builds and represents itself through architecture, we are able to discuss the friction between national identity and architecture expression—however, architecture is not only a mirror to ideology, but a constituting reality and societal context."
From the curators: We have selected two nationally significant buildings in order to embed our project within the given time frame of the last century. One is the existing German Pavilion at the Giardini, and the other is the Kanzlerbungalow or Chancellor Bungalow, designed by the architect Sep Ruf in 1964 in Bonn, the former capital of Germany. The latter served as the official residence of the German chancellor, where he represented the nation and welcomed guests of state. The building is absorbed by a park and only orients itself to another national monument—the River Rhine.
Despite their opposing architectural language, organization, and expression, the two buildings share certain commonalities. Both have been altered considerably during their existence, both have responsibly spoken the nation, and both—Bungalow and Pavilion—have sacrificed their singularity and objecthood to become a theatrical state of total interiority.
In 1999, Bonn vanished—the Bonner Republik left for Berlin. Overnight, a city and its buildings slipped from being (inter)national media stars into oblivion. Of course, Bonn is actually still there, but the Kanzlerbungalow is special in that regard. Hidden bend a fence, bushes, and trees, the building never had a public façade. It was always only present through media coverage in photo and film. To a certain extent, it is a publicly private building that everybody knows but no one has ever been to.
Fifteen years later, we are waking the undead with a kiss in Venice. By juxtaposing the Kanzlerbungalow with the German Pavilion, the two-dimensional memory/image of the Bungalow becomes publicly accessible, and ultimately present through physical interaction. The Pavilion in Venice not only “swallows” the Bungalow (which was once swallowed by the park in Bonn), but the two architectures start engaging in a specific, on site conversation. What started as a project on representation ends up being an experiment in apprehending presence where physicality and its meaning constantly collapse into one another.