Success! And more…

2010.04.24

It’s like a sort of IBA-related Christmas, Easter and birthday come at once. Early last week, a Senate Baukollegium was held, where our ‘campaign team’ was able to put its case to Senate Building Director Frau Regula Lüscher, the Mayor of Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain and others.  Robert Slinger, Florian Köhl and Matthias Reese represented the campaign.

The result, officially announced via an interview with Frau Lüscher in today’s Morgenpost, is that the building is to be restored to its original design, including its distinctive colour scheme, which is fantastic news in itself.  But in addition, the borough of Kreuzberg is keen to see the area in front of the tower properly landscaped, and even to see Hejduk’s designs for two small pavilions, Studio for the painter, and Studio for the musician, built on the site.  Both formed part of the original design, and were intended to flank the entrance route to the tower – they were actually constructed for the 1987 IBA exhibition in the Martin Gropius Bau, but are assumed not to have survived.  Images of all this to be added here shortly, in the meantime, a glimpse of the Musician from beneath the Painter (I think) at the exhibition:

Frau Lüscher goes on to say in the interview that although Denkmalschutz (statutory heritage protection) is not the right tool for protecting IBA buildings, a formal procedure is to be established for building owners proposing alterations.

Finally, links to a couple of previous Morgenpost pieces, one on the future of the IBA buildings, the other an interview with Renata Hejduk.  If you have problems reading the full articles, you can usually just google the complete headline, which allows you to bypass the charging system. Oddly.

And finally finally, I notice someone has picked out the Kreuzberg Tower complex on one of the Google-earth-bird’s-eye-view-type things, here.  Interestingly, the building immediately to the west, with a semicircular rear facade, is another IBA building, by Raimund Abraham, who sadly died just a few weeks ago.

Categories : 1980s   IBA 87   John Hejduk
Tags :   

Linienstrasse 40, BundschuhBaumhauer Architekten

2010.04.24

The scaffold recently came down on BundschuhBaumhauer’s new apartment block on Linienstrasse, on the northwest corner of Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Our group got a sneak preview, courtesy of its architect Roger Bundschuh, so a few snaps included below.

The building was co-designed with artist Cosima von Bonin, and actually started as a project for a public sculpture nearby; when this didn’t work out, architect and artist decided to try for something on a bigger scale…

I was a bit rude about the design for this a while back, and was taken to task by Roger, who offered to better inform me with a site visit.  Obviously, rude not to take the offer up, and I have to admit that my concerns about tapering angular staircases were unfounded (I didn’t fall down/up them, and didn’t leave with a headache).

What’s most surprising, when you first turn the corner and see the building, is how incredibly like the architect’s early renderings the real-life building appears.  Much thought was given to how to make the building look as massive and dense as possible (’massive’ in the sense of ‘full of mass’, rather than ‘very big’).  The structure is insitu cast concrete, with a colour additive to make it as dark as possible. Its texture is deliberately rough cast, which is hard to make out from my (typically poor) images.  The overall  impression from the outside of a vast immoveable object, slightly alien. The interior, with the windows closed, is eerily quiet despite the busy Torstrasse below; a result, apparently, of the building’s foundations not being directly connected to the ground, being poured onto a raft of insulation material.

Actually, I think the windows ‘as built’ are much better.  The rendering looks awkwardly proportioned when you compare the two.

Anyway, what I like most about the building is its total lack of compromise, its ‘modern’ modernism in the face of Berlin’s current architectural conservatism.  It took four years to get through planning, in the face of opposition from the local conservation society, responsible for the Platz where it’s located. Hans Poelzig masterplanned the Platz and designed many of its buildings, including the Babylon Kino – the society felt the new building to be out of keeping, preferring a recreation of the missing Poelzig block – an argument I’m finding increasingly tedious.

More images, as ever, on Flickr, and below.

Do stay tuned to the blog for future building visits – I have a plan for late May to do a ‘mini-IBA’ tour around Kochstrasse, as I now have some contacts who live in two of the blocks there, plus of course the much talked about  Hejduk Tower nearby.  We have a Facebook group, if you’re down with that sort of thing.

Stopped! Hejduk campaign gets results.

2010.04.12

Having tried (and failed) to link to our latest press release as a Pdf located elsewhere, it seems clearer to simply include it here as a post; it gives a useful update of what’s been going on.  I must admit that I’m just a helper now – the campaign has been picked up from its humble beginnings and rocketed forward by Robert Slinger and Claire Karsenty at Kapok Architects, Ian Warner at SLAB, Florian Köhl at FAT KOEHL ARCHITEKTEN, and Matthias Reese at Reese Architekten, along with many others.

Do keep spreading the word, both about John Hejduk’s building in particular, and about the gradual chipping away at the buildings of the IBA programme in general.

Press release runs as follows:

The campaign to save John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower and Wings in Berlin from defacement has galvanised the international architectural community in the last ten days, and appears to be working and effecting change.

The campaign to save the buildings was set in motion a few weeks ago by Dr. Renata Hejduk, daughter of the architect and professor at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. It was taken up by a group of concerned Berlin architecture activists, who have worked flat out in support of Dr. Hejduk’s efforts to convince the owners to adopt a refurbishment strategy that his faithful to Hejduk’s original intentions.

An online petition was set up to try and save the buildings from the planned alterations after unsuccessful attempts by Dr. Hejduk to have a meaningful discussion with the building’s owners. Two Berlin architecture blogs, “SLAB-mag” and “Architecture in Berlin” have provided a running commentary of ongoing developments. Now the public pressure generated by the campaign and its supporters appears to be paying off.

The building’s managers, BerlinHaus GmbH have replaced images of the purple and white proposals with a written statement to the overwhelming reaction. In it they indicate a willingness to engage in discussions to arrive at broader consent. Their statement is quoted in full below.

In addition, as a result of the campaign, Matthias Peckskamp, Head of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg urban planning department has approached the owners via their architect, in the hope of seeking a more sympathetic approach. BerlinHaus informed him that the site work has been halted until agreement can be reached. In addition, the Berlin Senate has become involved, with Senate Building Director Regula Lüscher set to act as a mediating party between the owners, the city and representatives of the Hejduk estate in a meeting set for 19th April. Mr. Peckskamp hopes a resolution here could set a positive precedent for other threatened IBA schemes in the future.

In just two weeks, the online petition garnered almost 3,000 signatories from all over the world. The impressive list of supporters includes prominent architects such as:

Peter Eisenman

Steven Holl

Bernard Tschumi

Daniel and Nina Libeskind

Shigeru Ban

Henning Larsen

Michael Rotondi

Thom Mayne of Morphosis

Sir Peter Cook

Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro of D S+R in New York

Jean Philippe Vassal of Lacaton & Vassal in Paris

Raoul Bunschoten of Chora in London

Donald Bates of LAB in Melbourne

Gunter Zamp Kelp, Berlin

Jan Kleihues of Kleihues+Kleihues in Berlin

Michael Sorkin, New York

Lebbeus Woods

Matthias Sauerbruch and Louise Hutton of sauerbruch + hutton

Julia Bolles and Peter Wilson

as well as a host academics and historians including:

Joseph Rykwert of the University of Pennsylvania

Anthony Vidler, Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Cooper Union in New York

K. Michael Hays of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Stan Allen, Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University

Prof. Alberto Perez-Gomez ,Professor at McGill University in Montreal

Prof. Wim van den Bergh, Professor at RWTH, Maastricht and Aachen University

Christine Hawley of UCL, London

Peter Carl of LMU, London

Ben Nicholson, Associate Professor at the Institute of Chicago

As well as signing the petition many supporters have also voiced support for the effort as well as the importance of John Hejduk’s work and legacy.

Steven Holl said:

Considering the last half of the 20th century, only three architects lifted the culture of architecture into the realm of poetry: Louis Kahn, Louis Barragan and certainly John Hejduk.”

Shigeru Ban said:

‘‘John Hejduk was one of the most influential educators and architects of our time. John’s IBA tower in Berlin embodies a message of selflessness in a world so often dominated by greed.”

Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, said:

John Hejduk’s Berlin Tower is a rare example of architecture from one of the 20th century’s most poetic architects. We should do all we can to preserve and celebrate it.”

Michel Sorkin said:

The good news of the renovation of John Hejduk’s wonderful Berlin Tower is betrayed by the whimsical vandalism of its “restorers.”  What next?  Perhaps the Blue Mosque would be more satisfying in pink.”

John Hejduk is best known as one of the ‘New York Five’, as Dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, and for his many published projects and writings which influenced a generation of architects. The Kreuzberg Tower is one of only a handful of built works by this influential architect. Berlin has three examples, all social housing schemes built as part of the IBA 1987 international building exhibition.

Managers Berlinhaus: (http://www.berlinhaus.de/)

Statement regarding the works:

Images of their proposals can be seen here: http://fantasticjournal.blogspot.com/2010/03/disturbance-at-hejduk-house.html.

English translation of statement from BerlinHaus (from their website):

Project development Charlottenstraße 96-97

As new owners of the building ensemble Charlottenstraße 96-97 in Berlin – Kreuzberg we are planning urgently necessary facade repairs.

After the completion of some initial works, we have received repeated requests to engage in a broader public discussion in respect to the design of the facades, and to consider the special characteristics of the building and its architecture.

We see ourselves as a responsible company, which does not only undertake refurbishment for the preservation and increase in property values, but acknowledges the interaction which takes place between such measures and their surroundings and site specific conditions.

Therefore we are glad to face up to the challenge of finding broad design consent.

First discussions are currently taking place into how a promising inclusion of different interest groups can be achieved.

We are glad to continuously keep you informed about the current state of this process.

Categories : 1980s   IBA 87   John Hejduk
Tags :     

Hejduk update

2010.04.06

The petition closed at the end of last week, at nearly 3,000 signatures.  Thanks to everyone who’s given their time and support so far, especially by spreading the word across the blogosphere – I still haven’t had a chance to work back through all the useful contacts, or reciprocated all the links, but hopefully will do when time allows.

A week old now, but worth also mentioning a pice in last week’s TAZ newspaper here (in german).

As ever, a good summary of the moment over at SLAB.

Categories : John Hejduk