Blog: Architecture, Art and Design

February 09, 2009 /

Berlin, Germany

By Kirsten Kiser, Editor-In-Chief,

Went to Berlin to visit the Graft Berlin office and see the "Klee Universe" exhibition at Mies van der Rohe's New National Gallery. Like with any trip a lot more was added to my program, one of the highlight being the Treptow Crematorium (1996-98) designed by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank.

First visited two dental clinics by Graft architects that for sure changes your attitude towards the usually feared dentist.
The Kinderdentist (read arcspace feature) is designed as an underwater experience with a 12 foot wave and patterns of pixilated schools of fish connecting the treatment rooms.

berlin_1.jpgPhoto: andi albert photographie

Photo: arcspace

At the Dental clinic KU64 (read arcspace feature) you are On the beach...a dune landscape being the metaphor for an artificial landscape of undulating folded floors reflected by a ceiling of a similar shape.

Photo: hiepler brunier architekturfotografie

Photo: arcspace

Graft also designed the "HOTEL Q," a continuous flow of form and space. Here the visitor will find a narrative that departs from conventional perceptual hotel experiences. "HOTEL Q" is a member of Design Hotels.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: hiepler brunier architekturfotografie

Photo: hiepler brunier architekturfotografie
The New National Gallery has dedicated a major exhibition to Paul Klee (1879 - 1940), who taught at the Bauhaus school of art and architecture, inviting you to embark on a journey through the fascinating Klee Universe.
The exhibition includes sections on interiors and architecture that looks at forms and objects created by man, while nature appears in images of plants, animals, and landscapes.
Comprising some 250 works it is the first comprehensive Klee retrospective in Berlin since the exhibition of his work at the Kronprinzenpalais 85 years ago.

Photo © Unkown

Photo © Unkown Viaducts Break Ranks

The upper hall shows Jeff Koons' glistening giant sculptures from his famous "Celebration" series, which he has been working on since the early 1990s and which instantly strike one as magnified children's toys or giant gift items.

Photo: arcspace

Photo © Jeff Koons 2008 Cat on a Clothesline

On the way to the Treptow Crematorium we passed the East Side Gallery, one of the last remains of the Berlin Wall that's still at its historical place. With its length of 1.3 kilometers, it curves parallel to the Spree through Berlin and tells with its pictures the story of Berlin and Germany's history.

Photo: arcspace

The Treptow Crematorium (1996-98), designed by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, is a monolithic polished concrete structure with a facade of glass and sunshades.
You enter the building via three recessed forecourts, which lead into the large central hall.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The concrete supports rise like trees from the ground in the central space with daylight entering through circular holes at the top, where they break through the ceiling. The roof is supported by cantilevered brackets at the tops of the columns. Unfortunately we could not get into the building but had to photograph through the windows.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

For more art the Deutsche Guggenheim showed "Memory, 2008" by Anish Kapoor. The twenty-four-ton Cor-Ten steel tank, defined by its volume rather than by its mass, sits tightly within the gallery space. Its thin skin suggests a form that is ephemeral and unmonumental, defying gravity as it gently glances against the peripheries of the gallery walls, floors, and ceiling.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Kapoor's sculptures elicit a certain confrontation. As participants rather than as mere spectators, we become hyperconscious of our own position in space and of our own scale. We want to walk around and under Memory's bulging curves, but are denied this access. The sculpture is not architecture - we are prevented from entering its aperture/window. Descend to the floor below and you can look into its belly through what, from a distance, looks like a black window.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Berlin's new "White Cube" gallery, which actually looks more blue from the outside, sits in the city's center on the Spree River. The temporary gallery will come down once the old Imperial Palace, just behind the gallery, is rebuilt where the communist Palace of the Republic stood until recently.
Unfortunately they did not select the "Art Cloud" proposal by Graft.

Photo: arcspace

"The design of the Kunsthall is envisioned as an Art Cloud, a temporary light structure of exhibition space, seemingly floating and resting for a moment above the topography of soft mounds. This structure would not be superimposed upon the previous historic site, but rather would fill the transition from "what was" to "what will be."

Image courtesy Graft

Image courtesy Graft

When in Berlin I never miss visiting the two Aedes galleries. The AedesLand showed "True Cities," a collection of photographs by Charlie Koolhaas featuring four global cities that determine, in different ways, our political and cultural landscapes and that will increasingly shape our collective destinies in the future.

Koolhaas' eclectic experiences as sociologist, magazine editor, author and photographer, not to mention daughter of renowned architect, are brought to bear in this exhibition of 200 images portraying scenes from four of the world largest urban agglomerations: Guangzhou, Dubai, Lagos and London.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

AedesPfefferberg showed "Buildings and Speculations" by Swiss architects von Ballmoos Krucker Architekten.

For this exhibition the specific properties of the gallery space is exploited by a 1:1 scale spatial installation. Erected on a level that is constructed of scaffolding material is an accessible "inner form." This installation investigates a fictive, organic space and offers views of the exhibition via a variety of openings. The exhibition thereby becomes an experimental field in the architectonic sense.

Photo: arcspace

The front room shows "Ohrenstrand mobil 08," Temporary architecture for new music.

Photo: arcspace

Architect and project developer Bernd Boetzel from Planufaktur took me up in the Bethanienturm, one of their most amazing projects.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace

The "TowerVisions Bethanienturm" has already been realised in the virtual online-world of Second Life and can be explored by a real-time walk-through.

Bernd Boetzel also curated an exhibition of digital art at the Hans Hollein designed Austrian Embassy (arcspace feature). The exhibition, "6 Pictures in Real Life and 66 Pictures in Second Life," is also shown at the Bethanienturm in Second Life.

Dutch artist Rob Steenhorst in front of LoveDot

Last night in Berlin we went to the Jazzfest Neukölln to hear Juliane Gabriel sing accompanied by cellist Kristoff Becker. Juliane goes under the name Jaynine Scarborough in Second Life where she also performs,

Photo: arcspace

After the performance off to Dieners, an authentically old-style Berlin bar, named after famous local boxer Franz Diener. The walls are adorned with faded hunting murals and photos of well-known Germans. It was Billy Wilder's favorite Berlin bar.

Photo: arcspace

Photo: arcspace Photo of Billy Wilder

P.S. arcspace will soon launch a new "Design" section where we will feature the best design from around the world. First article will be about Graft's new flexible furniture system.

Photo: arcspace

P.P.S. Seen in the window of the six-story wooden residential building (2007).

Photo: arcspace

" Yes - it's ugly, but it must be ugly to be integrated in the existing urban surroundings"./Urban development in the Berlin Metropolis

Until now, the German building laws have imposed narrow confines on building wooden houses, this is the first six-story residential building using a solid-wood construction method.

Stayed at The Mandala

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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