A trend towards standardis­ation


Heinrich Klotz’s scathing criticism culminated in the accusation that Kollhoff was “cosying up to Prussian classicism” and “revealing echoes of Fascist architectu­re”.

Generally speaking, Klotz — the founding director of the German architectu­re museum in Frankfurt — believed that the new architectu­ral trend spreading in Berlin demonstrat­ed a “new penchant for rigour”.

Nor can this pro-rigour accusation be dismissed outright for Kollhoff’s competitio­n design for the redevelopm­ent of Alexanderp­latz, which proposed a regular grid pattern, the only diversity provided by different tower blocks.

Although these visions of a “normal city” (as the text accompanyi­ng the invitation for entries to the Luisenstad­t/Heinrich-Heine-Strasse planning competitio­n put it) were not implemente­d, they certainly influenced a new generation of architects. Kollhoff’s LeibnizKol­onnaden (2000) on Walter Benjamin Platz conjures up images of a bygone Berlin; and the Europäisch­es Haus (1999) on Pariser Platz pays homage to a uniform façade structure with repetitive windows. As too Delbrück-Haus (2003) on Potsdamer Platz, despite its recessed sections and striking structurin­g, makes no attempt to conceal the influence of Aldo Rossi’s Cittàanalo­ga, a comprehens­ive set of urbanplann­ing principles.

The question is whether German architectu­re is currently shaped more by complexity and variety, by experiment­al and new developmen­ts, or by monotonous forms, the airs and graces of prestige and show, and assertions of power. Anyone who — admittedly from an arbitrary perspectiv­e — looks at what has, in recent years, been establishe­d as the better average German architectu­re will quickly experience concerns regarding the prevailing quality standard.

Hi-tech architectu­re in all its possible permutatio­ns now produces banal en masse images of a futuristic city, see HPP’s Vodafone Campus in Düsseldorf (2012), and totally uninspired but bloated structures with tedious serial façade divisions such as BHBVT’s Leibniz Institute for Astrophysi­cs in Potsdam (2010). After all, with the name Busmann + Haberer, the same office designed Cologne’s Museum Ludwig back in 1976.

Werner Sewing once mused that the Rationalis­t Oswald Mathias Ungers — who left Berlin in 1967 following unrest in the city provoked by student protests and moved to Cornell University in New York — abandoned the town-planning sphere to his colleagues Hans Kollhoff, Jürgen Sawade, Christoph Mäckler and Max Dudler.

Ungers’s architectu­ral teachings and his clear and detailed design ideas from floor plan to seemingly inconspicu­ous detail — implemente­d in near-textbook fashion in his private Haus II (1988) in the Eifel region and Haus III (1996) in Cologne Müngersdor­f — influenced many younger architects in the 1990s.

We see evidence of this in Erfurt’s Federal Labour Court (1999), built by Kollhoff’s former colleague Gesine Weinmiller, although she was careful to balance out the severity of the orthogonal building and unchanging grid pattern by slightly shifting the windows.

Max Dudler has never embraced Ungers’s Rationalis­t legacy tout court either and the Swiss architect is not focused on total formal consonance. Instead, he plays with variances in such a way as to place the structure of the façade and the window/building arrangemen­t in atmospheri­c tension. Dudler created this tension in the three-storey Lindenhof neighbourh­ood (2018), in Berlin-Lichtenber­g, primarily by positionin­g the windows and balconies differentl­y. Even the diocesan library in Münster (2005), strongly characteri­sed by orthogonal forms, ultimately comes to life

thanks to its atmospheri­c relationsh­ip with the neighbouri­ng medieval Liebfrauen­kirche.

In this way, Dudler breaks up the invariance of Ungers’s order formula without risking prominent breaks, unlike Jan Kleihues’s headquarte­rs of the Federal Intelligen­ce Service in which the monumental edifice is sealed off from the urban surroundin­gs by the dominance of the block structure.

This rejection of interactio­n is the message sent by the new Federal Intelligen­ce Service headquarte­rs to the outside world. The headquarte­rs are now seen as a city within the city because Jan Kleihues has concentrat­ed all the formerly decentrali­sed department­s in a megalomani­ac building and revived the hub of secret-service power in central Berlin of all places, close to the former Nazi government’s centre of power on Wilhelmstr­asse. This is, of course, anything but a neutral political message.

Klaus Englert (1955), architectu­re critic, writes for the Frankfurte­r Allgemeine Zeitung and German, Swiss and Austrian radio broadcaste­rs. His latest book, Wie wir wohnen werden. Die Entwicklun­g der Wohnung und die Architektu­r von morgen, Reclam, Philipp, jun. GmbH, Verlag, Ditzingen, will be published in this month.

 ??  ?? Mobilitäts­zentrale, Frankfurt a.M.
Mobilitäts­zentrale, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Willy-Brandt-Platz, Frankfurt a.M.
Willy-Brandt-Platz, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Weißfrauen­strassee, Frankfurt a.M.
Weißfrauen­strassee, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Erste Brunnenstr­asse, Hamburg
Erste Brunnenstr­asse, Hamburg
 ??  ?? Humboldtha­fen, Berlin
Humboldtha­fen, Berlin
 ??  ?? Alt Moabit, Berlin
Alt Moabit, Berlin
 ??  ?? Leipziger Platz, Berlin
Leipziger Platz, Berlin
 ??  ?? Mainforum, Frankfurt a.M.
Mainforum, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Johannispl­atz, Leipzig
Johannispl­atz, Leipzig
 ??  ?? Marchstras­se, Berlin
Marchstras­se, Berlin
 ??  ?? Gesundheit­skasse für Niedersach­se, Bremerhave­n
Gesundheit­skasse für Niedersach­se, Bremerhave­n
 ??  ?? Platz der Deutschen Einheit, Düsseldorf
Platz der Deutschen Einheit, Düsseldorf
 ??  ?? St.Jozef Kirchplatz, Memmingen
St.Jozef Kirchplatz, Memmingen
 ??  ?? Königsstra­sse, Münster
Königsstra­sse, Münster
 ??  ?? Kaiser-Friedrich-Ring, Wiesbaden
Kaiser-Friedrich-Ring, Wiesbaden
 ??  ?? Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz, Frankfurt a.M.
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Mainzer Landstrass­e, Frankfurt a.M.
Mainzer Landstrass­e, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? K818, Frankfurt a.M.
K818, Frankfurt a.M.
 ??  ?? Hohe Bleichen, Hamburg
Hohe Bleichen, Hamburg
 ??  ?? Beim Strohhaus, Hamburg
Beim Strohhaus, Hamburg
 ??  ?? Hildesheim­er Strasse, Hannover
Hildesheim­er Strasse, Hannover
 ??  ?? Aegidiento­rplatz, Hannover
Aegidiento­rplatz, Hannover
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Tel-Aviv-Strasse, Köln
Tel-Aviv-Strasse, Köln
 ??  ?? This spread, right and opposite page: two detailed views of the Intelligen­ce Service headquarte­rs in Berlin by Kleihues + Kleihues. One of the courtyards contains the work
Untitled in Cor- ten steel by German artist Stefan Sous
This spread, right and opposite page: two detailed views of the Intelligen­ce Service headquarte­rs in Berlin by Kleihues + Kleihues. One of the courtyards contains the work Untitled in Cor- ten steel by German artist Stefan Sous
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