Lars Krückeberg, Wolfram Putz and Thomas Willemeint (GRAFT) and Marianne Birthler
Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety
In 2018, the inner-German border has disappeared exactly as long as it existed. The curators of the German pavilion, GRAFT and Marianne Birthler, will use this parallel as an opportunity to examine the effects of division and the process of healing as a dynamic spatial phenomenon.
One of their important questions is how to deal with a space which becomes available when something (a wall or a building) is removed. In the example of the German wall, most people still remember exactly where it has been so the emotional element has to be taken into account when developing a new project. The curators have selected approx. 25 architectural projects on the former border strip to show how this void in the middle of a new capital evolved. In all cases, the unbuilding was necessary to discover the new free space.
One example is Checkpoint Charlie, one of the most symbolic crossing points. The two sites immediately adjoining the checkpoint were not developed and remain empty to this day as a reminder of war destruction and the Cold War. A second example is the Iron Curtain Trail cycle route, which follows the course of the former western border of the Warsaw Pact States. Stretching from the Barents Sea on the Norwegian-Russian border to the Black Sea on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, it runs for 10,000 kilometers through 20 countries, 15 of which are European Member States.
Besides the inner-German wall, the exhibition will also examine historical as well as current barriers, fences and walls outside Germany. A journalist team has been travelling to border walls in Israel, Korea, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Cyprus and Spain.
Marianne Birthler is a German politician (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen). She was part of the GDR opposition and the first freely elected People’s Parliament in 1990. From 2000-2011, she was the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic. She is active in several committees, among which is the Council of the Berlin Wall Memorial.
Wolfram Putz (Architekt BDA) studied architecture at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, and the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA. He graduated as Dipl.-Ing. Arch. in Braunschweig and received his Master of Architecture at the SCI Arc, Los Angeles, USA. After a visiting professorship in 2008–2009 and an acting professorship in 2016–2017 at the RWTH Aachen, Wolfram Putz is currently a visiting professor at the TU Delft.
Lars Krückeberg (Architekt BDA) studied architecture at the Technical University Braunschweig, Germany, the University of Florence, Italy, and the German Institute for History of Art, Florence, Italy. He graduated as Dipl.-Ing. Arch. in Braunschweig and received his Master of Architecture at the SCI Arc, Los Angeles, USA. After visiting professorships at HafenCity University in Hamburg and the RWTH Aachen, Lars Krückeberg is currently a visiting professor at the TU Delft.
Thomas Willemeit (Architekt BDA) studied architecture at the Technical University Braunschweig, where he graduated as Dipl.-Ing. Arch. in 1997, and partook the masterclass for architecture and urban planning at the Bauhaus Dessau. In addition to his successful career in the architectural field, he won numerous national prizes as a violinist, singer and conductor. He was a visiting professor for architecture at the RWTH Aachen and at Peter Behrens School of Art in Düsseldorf and is currently a visiting professor at the TU Delft.
The pavilion of Germany is located in Giardini. It originally dates from 1909. It was designed by Daniele Donghi, an Italian engineer, for the Bavarian artists. In 1912, it opened to artists from all over Germany. In 1938, the pavilion was demolished and rebuilt by Ernst Haiger, a German architect. The slender Ionic columns were replaced by squared fluted columns and natural and artificial stone was used abundantly to contrast with the neighbouring pavilions.
Review by The Venice Insider
The pavilion of Germany is one of my favourite pavilions of this year’s Biennale, as you can read in ‘7 pavilions you cannot miss at the Architecture Biennale 2018’. The exhibition does not only fit perfectly into the Freespace theme, the layout of the pavilion is also stunning. When you enter the main area, you are confronted by huge black parts of a wall, hence, you cannot see what’s behind. This visual confrontation makes you face the facts about the emotional impact of a physical border. On the white back of these panels, several projects on the former border strip are described in detail. In the side rooms, you can watch video testimonies of people from all over the world who still live in a divided country.
The entire set-up is well thought-out and makes you think about the effects of war. However, the variety of projects also shows the resilience of people to create a beautiful new area and to adapt to new ways of living.
If you want to know more about the Architecture Biennale 2018 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Architecture Biennale 2018‘ or have a look at this overview page with articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Axel-Springer-Campus, image: courtesy of OMA)
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