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We’ve never had so much variety. At no other time has there been such a

broad and heterogeneous field of strategies and current positions on

architecture. Nowadays, even experts find it difficult to keep track:

rationalism and minimalism, blob and box, various regionalisms and

traditionalisms – architecture currently fluctuates somewhere between a

putative anything goes and a restrictive state of the art.

By Professor Dr. Johannes Busmann

ncreasing pluralization of recession. Planning orders are combined with a drastic demo-
lifestyles, new technological declining, but the complexity of graphic transformation, make it
options, and the search for the remaining building jobs is increasingly difficult to localize
identity in the face of globaliza- increasing. A considerable over- current requirements and trans-
tion with its tendencies towards supply of architects makes the late them into contemporary
cultural transformation have led search for jobs even more diffi- architecture. In the area of habi-
to the creation of a bewildering cult. Additionally, the fee struc- tation, for example, it looks like
variety of architectural concepts. ture for architects and engineers there is a paradigm change in
This means that the contempo- is being seriously questioned. terms of needs; and a transfor-
rary image of architecture in This means that increasing mation in quality requirements
Germany is characterized by a numbers of architects are seeking has been under way for several
condensed intermeshing of con- to expand their range of activi- years. Recent studies of people’s
flicting styles. With a back- ties and shift the emphasis of reasons for choosing an apart-
ground of increasingly complex their work. The result is that ment still confirm many tradi-
technological and economic con- some traditional areas of work tional beliefs, but they also show
ditions, the situation for German are being replaced by new ser- that the living environment, the
architects is already difficult vices from related market seg- atmosphere of the building,
enough. The situation in the ments or that completely new various usage options and energy-
building sector is only improving areas of activity are opening up. related aspects are also gaining
gradually after a long period of importance.
Changing needs
In response to the difficult situa- New forms of living together
tion architects are experiencing A competition seeking a future-
in regard to winning commis- oriented living model for a resi-
sions, experts recommend dential area in Munich was orga-
emphasizing the service aspects nized by the Deutscher

and responding more decisively Werkbund this April. Unlike the

to the contemporary require- ‘House of the Present’ competi-

ments of the market and users. tion (see next page), the
But what are these needs? The Deutscher Werkbund competi-
fundamental change in lifestyle tion was not based around family
The Allianz Arena in Munich and the business world in a time life in the suburbs, but around
designed by Herzog & Meuron. of increasing individualization, urban accommodation that fits >>

The Philologische Bibliothek der Freien Universität >

in Berlin, designed by Norman Foster.

Strategies for difference
Future scenarios such as the two
apartment construction projects


in Munich highlight initial indi-
cators that could have very posi-
tive consequences for new areas
of activity for architects. But
although confidence amongst
architects is slowly growing
again, according to a recent
survey by the Institute for
Economic Research many still
feel a great deal of uncertainty
about their future job descrip-
tion. This doesn’t cause
resignation, but more often than
not it leads to the development
of completely different creative
HOUSE OF THE PRESENT approaches. In recent years,
strategies for difference have
In 2001, the magazine supplement of the Allmann Sattler Wappner and presented during last been a common reaction to the


Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper made one of the year’s German Federal Garden Show. The rather increasingly difficult situation.
few attempts to find suitable contemporary archi- minimalist building was described as a “new type Faced with a lack of construction
tecture for current heterogeneous needs. Using the of flexible, configurable home”, equipped with the orders, a younger German archi-
title ‘House of the Present’, the paper invited latest software technology. All technical operations tectural scene has dedicated itself
famous architects, both domestic and international, in the house can be controlled centrally using a to self-imposed themes, imple- The winning project of the German Work Federation competition in Munich
to take part in an architectural competition. The remote control and configured according to the resi- mented in different projects outside designed by Kazunari Sakamoto.
goal was a residential home in the suburbs of a dents’ preferences. The spatial structure of the one- institutional structures – from
large central European city for four people, meeting family house also reflects new user requirements media facades to removable houses from the mainstream and at the the Berlin Hotel, Q), alternate
modern requirements in terms of function, materi- (i.e. the desire for greater proximity to nature) with and temporary usage. same time meet the growing between interior architecture and
als and comfort. The winning design was a residen- its blurred transitions between private and public, In symposia, exhibitions and publi- need from the market for incisive design and regularly appear in
tial house designed by Munich-based architect house and garden. cations, the economic and political images. Faced with globalization architecture and lifestyle maga-
backgrounds to architecture have and its tendencies towards zines, thanks to their sculptural-
been debated and made public. homogenization, many younger emblematic character.
today’s lifestyle. It was intended compactness, thereby meeting projects described also indicate architects currently feel the chal-
to provide new perspectives for a different needs. The concept pro- a comprehensive change in resi- This flight to theoretical posi- lenge to focus their compositions Ecology as a design factor
sustainable, dynamically mixed motes intimacy, communication dential construction or individual tions and temporary architectural on creating unique and recogniz- To avoid the latent threat of arbi-
(in terms of age and social struc- and meetings. initiatives that remain within con- concepts brings about different able forms. This is making trary design, technology also often
tures) area for the 21st century. The enthusiastic response both to ventional fields of architecture. design approaches that stand out aspects such as identity and indi- plays an important role for many
The winning design from the ‘House of the Present’ as viduality increasingly important. contemporary architects. A well-
Japanese architect Kazunari well as the Deutscher Werkbund Offices such as Berlin-based developed awareness of today’s
Sakamoto was selected to be competition indicates the architectural trio, Graft, favor requirements for sustainable con-


implemented at the beginning of reawakened interest among idiosyncratic and sometimes struction leads to an ecologi-
April 2006. It contrasts classic architects in the previously rather contradictory designs that are cally-oriented understanding of
residential designs and lines (e.g. neglected area of residential also extremely marketable. In construction and technology –
block & courtyard construction) apartment construction. At the keeping with the new self-image beyond traditional concepts of
with a completely open spatial same time, it is indicative of the of many architects, the Graft trio ‘ecological building’, but opposed
structure with free-standing indi- current search for new ways of see themselves as border cross- to the high-tech architecture of
vidual houses. The blocks, with a living together and a new urban ers, who do not restrict them- the 1970s. Technology is not on
total of 400 apartments, form an attitude that needs to express selves to a single discipline but display here, but subtly inte-
ensemble that is permeable from itself equally through buildings instead remain open to very dif- grated into the design in order to
all sides, characterized equally and social structures. It remains ferent ideas. Their hybrids and optimize the architecture’s eco-
by individuality and to be seen, however, whether the Architectural office Graft designed the Hotel Q located in Berlin. dynamic space landscapes (e.g. logical and energy specifications. >>


building owners from the build- requirements. The extremely
ing process. Because of their emblematic basic form of the
exemplary function, publicly new administration building rep-
funded building projects are sup- resents a ‘Y’ shape made up of
posed to adhere more strictly to three mutually bracing wings
quality standards. “Public that give the building a dynamic
authorities must always apply the appearance and simultaneously
standards of building culture to create an image of arms that are
themselves first,” stated Federal outstretched in welcome.
Construction Minister Wolfgang
Tiefensee at last year’s awarding Projects such as the administration
of the German Architecture Prize. building designed by Eike
Apart from prestige projects like Becker_Architekten stand out
the Federal Environment Agency, from the mass of new construction
however, the reality is often very projects because they point in new
different. To save on costs, many directions and stimulate discus-
local authorities decide to assign sion. In concrete terms, it is the


new construction projects to the balancing of representation and
cheapest provider – and this is dimensions, of dynamic and sym-
reflected in the results. Projects bolic form, that leads to the cre-
such as the municipal utility ation of special solutions and that
administration building in Neuss should encourage emulation. This
(still under construction), remain is because this solution is not the
the exception. The municipal result of cost cutting and compro-
The municipal authorities of Neuss opted for a high value architectural building instead of a cheap solution. authorities rejected an inexpen- mises, but of a dedicated architec-
sive 08/15 solution for the con- tural approach. This makes it pos-
Buildings such as the recently activation in combination with to the landfill gas system, from On the way to a new building struction of a new administration sible for the administration
completed Capricorn-Haus in the geothermic utilization, as well as photovoltaic mats to solar collec- culture? building and opted instead for an building in Neuss to become
Düsseldorf Medienhafen, created natural ventilation concepts, tors and rain water processing, Outstanding buildings such as economically and architecturally almost a reference point for a
by the Cologne-based office of meet the requirements for an the whole range of ecological the Federal Environment Agency high-value building. In keeping building culture that should be able
Gatermann + Schossig, or the ecological, energy-balanced construction techniques was used cannot, however, conceal the with the modern business image to develop beyond spectacular
Federal Environment Agency building concept. The Federal for this building – which accom- frightening irrelevance of many for the commissioning party and prestige projects: in good, every-
building in Dessau, designed Environment Agency building modates 800 employees. The new buildings in Germany. Poor for its role as a municipal energy day building. The founding of the
by Berlin-based Matthias completed in Dessau in 2005 whole thing is hidden behind a knowledge of architectural provider, Berlin-based office Foundation for Building
Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton, was planned from the very living facade of colored glass quality and the lack of well- Eike Becker_Architekten devel- Culture is now planned for 2007,
represent a new generation of beginning as a pilot project for a and wood elements that meander founded planning have been oped a design that was both rep- as announced by the Federal
sustainable buildings. An modern, ecological building. across former industrial waste- much lamented since before the resentative and functional, and Minister for Building at this year’s
‘i-modular facade’ was devel- From a geo-heat exchange system land. efforts for the establishment of a which also met modern energy ‘Day of Architecture’. >>
oped for the exterior cladding of nationwide Foundation for
Capricorn house. It combined the Building Culture. This unsatis-
media provision, air supply and factory situation is attributed,
ventilation, heat recovery, sun among other things, to the lack
protection and light regulation in of planning quality: according to
a very flat, 20 cm-thick panel the latest figures, only 35% of
that was flexible to install. The construction in Germany is
window panels, with over 800 designed by trained architects,


identical facade modules in and less than half of these
bright red that change from floor projects were fully designed –
to floor, were prefabricated and something which is vital for
assembled on-site. The compact correct planning. This inadequate
construction, exemplary heat planning culture is blamed on
insulation, ventilation systems several causes, including the
with heat recovery, concrete core The Capricorn Haus in Düsseldorf, an example of sustainable construction. extensive withdrawal of public The Federal Environment Agency building designed by Sauerbruch & Hutton.




The Peek & Cloppenburg Weltstadthaus (Renzo Piano) in Cologne was developed to improve the company’s image. The Five Boats at the inland port, Duisburg, designed by Nicolas Grimshaw and developed by Kölbl Kruse GmbH.

Corporate architecture with tect – in this case Italian-born to a lot of prominent architects, Vitra based in Weil am Rhein. that this strategic marketing ably functional shell. Just like
responsibility Renzo Piano – but rather the new this building could become the Furthermore, it is currently formula is extremely successful. other automobile companies
It’s not just initiatives like the sensitivity and enormous expen- standard for future develop- German automobile manufactur- The Central Building, designed before them (e.g. Volkswagen
Foundation for Building Culture ditures in positioning the depart- ments. ers who are outbidding each by Zaha Hadid, contains 740 with its Autostadt and glass-
that are responding to the ment store amidst existing struc- other with spectacular building workspaces over an area of encased factory), BMW is identi-
increasing public interest in tures. At a location between New work and brand projects. In the face of an acute 26,000 m2, covering all planning fying itself with innovation and,
architectural themes (reflected Cologne’s Schildergasse and the environments location crisis, companies are and administrative functions of in the case of Leipzig, with the
by factors such as increasing tunnel entrance to a major city The fact that spectacular architec- increasingly turning to strong, the Leipzig-based BMW plant. artistic aura of architecture. In
numbers of visitors to events traffic axis, the edifice draws on ture increases the fame and the image-rich architecture as a When well-known architects the specific staging and symbolic
such as the ‘Day of Architecture’ the buildings within its environ- market presence of a company is means of forming a company such as the Pritzker prize-winner upgrading of automobile produc-
or architecture-related exhibi- ment, connecting a lively shop- now a well-known concept identity. A glance at how the new Hadid plan buildings for indus- tion, the building itself becomes
tions). In response to the ping mile and a busy traffic thanks to the commitment of BMW Central Building in trial corporations, financial a typological emblem of adver-
increased public interest in archi- artery while also creating new Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid to Leipzig has been received, and figures take a backseat. Her tising.
tecture, companies are also spaces within the city. With this the furniture manufacturer not just in the trade press, shows terrace-shaped space continuum
increasingly looking to this area intervention in urban space, has triggered talk of an “office Today, nothing seems to provide
for attractive ways of promoting which considerably improves a revolution” and of the “social- the automobile industry with a
their image. Companies such as previously inhospitable location utopian character” of the build- better stage for product advertis-
the Hamburg-based fashion shop and which could act as an ing. With its non-territorial, ing and corporate image promo-
chain Peek & Cloppenburg have impulse for further developments openly structured workspaces tion than modern architecture.
long been using architecture as a in the area, the new P&C branch and the social networking of all Avant-garde designs involving
marketing factor to improve their differentiates itself from other function areas, the Leipzig plant image-creating elements of
image and acquire customers. corporate architectural designs. really does seem like the proto- company strategy are not only
Since the branch designed by This is because the unusual plug- type for a future world of work. intended to transfer value mis-
RKW was opened in Frankfurt in ging of a gap in the city’s struc- But despite the purely functional sions, but they also stand for
1988, cooperation with famous ture means that the builder has design parameters, strictly ori- innovative thinking and the mas-


architects’ offices have become a shown a level of urban responsi- ented towards the technical pro- tering of complex technologies.
staple concept at Peek & bility that is often absent from cesses of automobile construc- In this context, it is not surpris-
Cloppenburg. What is notewor- many inner-city commercial con- tion that are constantly being ing that recent projects of auto-
thy about P&C’s Cologne struction projects. In the cathe- emphasized by the plant manage- mobile companies first consider
Dependance, which opened in dral city of Cologne, where a ment, construction jobs of this architects whose designs were
2005, is not so much the coop- search for a cultural building The spectacular nature of the Vitra Museum, in Weil am Rhein, designed by Frank Gehry, kind have long entailed more thought to be impossible to
eration with a prominent archi- identity has brought new orders positively affects the company’s image. than just the provision of a suit- implement just a few years ago >>


BMW-Welt in Munich, a ‘sensational’ building by BMW AG designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au.

due to their complexity. Whether companies are looking to archi- of services extends from urban
it is Zaha Hadid’s Leipzig tecture for incisive branding or planning – examples are the
Central Building or her Science when city marketers want to use current master plans for entire
Center in Wolfsburg, Ben van architecture as their main cities as from Albert Speer und
Berkel’s Stuttgart Mercedes medium – whether in Munich gmp in China – to ecological and
museum and Porsche museum by with the Allianz Arena or in technical know-how and the
Delugan Meissl or the BMW Hamburg with the planned ability to fully review projects
World building in Munich by Elbphilharmonie concert build- and develop integral concepts.
Coop Himmelb(l)au – all are ing. The main quality is extrava- In times of increasing variety in
carefully staged in order to provide gance and spectacle. It seems as architectural concepts and strate-
the greatest possible sensation. though German architects are not gies, precisely these qualities
expected to be able to meet these could be a crucial decision-
Quality as difference requirements. making factor and a differentiat-
A conspicuous aspect of this list New sensational projects such as ing criterion for success. <<
is not only the strong connection the conversion of the Berlin
of automobile companies to the Olympic Stadium taken on by
avant-garde designs of star archi- the Hamburg-based architects of
tects, but also the complete Gerkan Marg und Partner (gmp) About the author:
absence of German architect or the Berlin main train station Johannes Busmann
offices from these projects. It is designed by the same office, are Dr. Johannes Busmann
difficult to find a German name admired mainly for their preci- is professor for media
amongst the Who’s Who of inter- sion and engineering finesse – in design at the University
nationally active, notable archi- keeping with the international of Wuppertal and owner
tects. Although Germany has the perception of German building. of the publishing house
largest construction volume and Initiatives such as the Müller+Busmann KG in
the most architects in Europe, it Architecture Export Network, Wuppertal. At this
imports the avant-garde from founded in 2002 by the Federal publishing house,
Britain, the Netherlands, Chamber of Architects, empha- specialized in architecture and real estate,

Switzerland or Austria. The size these specific qualities in Dr Johannes Busmann is the publisher of
designs of world stars such as order to better promote German the architecture magazine ‘build Das
Swiss-based architects Herzog & planning and construction ser- Architekten-Magazin’ and of the city
de Meuron are used wherever vices internationally. The range building magazine ‘polis’.

< The BMW building in Leipzig designed by Zaha Hadid. GERMANY REAL ESTATE YEARBOOK 2007 87