Altering a way of doing something is perhaps best attained with change to the way it is learned.
This project combines a utilitarian attitude to building reuse, with the establishing of a new architectural school. One in which students are taught the art of addition. One which redefines their role as agent of change - as designer, labourer and social entrepreneur.
Richly patterned history. Volatile identity. Tried systems. Failed systems. A city. Among many. Changing.
Berlin is a nexus of human activity. It’s been host to various periods of affluence, whether in innovation during the Enlightenment period or in philosophy, arts and culture during the Roaring Twenties.
But combined with two major 20th century conflicts, historically extensive bombardment, ensuing economic and political troubles, mass immigration and a staggering period of ideological division, the city is a brutally honest artifact of our recent activity.
In 2014, Berlin was named a ‘failed state’ for its financial burden on the country’s economy, its high number of welfare seekers, its delayed and over-budget airport and its enormous school drop-out rate.
But of German society, David Chipperfield notes ‘it is rebuilding itself morally and culture occupies a major role within it, it is more aware and self-reflective than any other [..] They are self-scrutinizing, and they are articulating contemporary issues.’
Berlin is a nexus of temporal, geographical and cultural events. The city gives rise to a variety of interactions - collision, collaboration, and competition - that help drive the shifting of its cultural landscape.
As a backdrop for an interest in the role of Architects within that changing context, Berlin offers a provocation to react.
Architects have long found themselves at the mercy of the powers on which they count for financial and political support.
While studies in Architecture encourage ambitious social and environmental goals, the industry seems strangled by requirements for economic yield. As a profession, it appears to be faced with a sense of impotence at its incapacity to enact what it evangelizes.
But in a shifting socioeconomic climate, the next generation of Architect seeks a foothold in the wave of novelty to come - bottom-up, user-lead projects in densifying areas mark the start of a rebellion against a ruthlessly wasteful market economy. Inequality, excess and obsolescence in cities, paired with universal access to information are turning these zones into testbeds for change.
A change that demands solutions to problems within the social and environmental realms in which Architects might be adept to contribute.