Reproducing the Obsolete: Reflections on the Conversion of a Power Station in Munich.
Every city represents a “conglomeration”, a collection, a storehouse of memories and an archive. At the same time, however, today’s cities are highly dynamic systems characterised by constant change and technical, infrastructural and architectural sub-systems of different scales. Today, architectural structures that are approaching the end of their utilisation cycles and have become obsolete are increasingly reviewed on their conservation value. The publicly accepted architectural monuments have already successfully passed this test. In practice, however, dealing with these often results in conservation automatism which permanently encapsulates and makes inflexible significant elements of a formerly dynamic architectural system. Structures that, officially, have not been declared monuments and whose conservation value is yet to unfurl out of an open political discussion, look more interesting by comparison. This paper will propose to extend the term reproduction by a sociological component that is understood as the maintenance of a state, or use of a building within a dynamic system that is the city. Using the example of our architectural practice for a conversion of a former thermal power station in Munich, I will present how a revision of the conventional assessment strategy of a building resulted in a new design strategy that transformed a ruined building into a dynamic architectural system again.
Markus Stenger is a Munich-based architect and writer. He studied architecture at the Bauhaus-University Weimar and Ohio State University, Columbus, USA in the 1990s. Together with Annette Stenger, he founded an architecture agency in 2003. Since 2014, the agency has operated under the name “Stenger2 Architekten und Partner”, together with Jörg Siegert. Stenger2 Architecten focus on projects for private homes, but also the revitalization of vacant buildings, the preparation and implementation of complex fire protection concepts and obtaining building permits.
In 2013, Markus Stenger founded S2LAB Denkraum für Architektur. In addition to the daily business of building, they are also occupied with the conceptual and process-related aspects that are integral to architecture and that are occasionally included in publications.
In recent years, Markus Stenger has been invited to serve as an external juror in several closing critiques at the Technical University of Vienna and at the Bauhaus-University Weimar.
In the course of 2016’s 15th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, the office of Stenger2 shows the conversion process of the former power station in Munich’s Obersendling district as an example of “empirical building” in the framework of its “fearless” exhibition.
Peter Benz Academy of Visual Arts of Hong Kong University
Urban Design as Mirrored by the Photo-Opportunity.
In her classic essay In Plato’s Cave (1973), Susan Sontag defines picture-taking as the ultimate outcome of tourism. With today’s widespread availability of digital cameras, camera-equipped mobile phones and other photo-devices, ever more people produce a continuous stream of photos of the places they are at. A new dimension to Sontag’s equation was added in the last decade through online image distribution opportunities, in particular of social networks and photo-sharing platforms. Taking a picture and posting it on the internet proves one’s presence at a location; the more spectacular the picture, the more ubiquitous the location, the more prestigious to have been there.
Increasingly, this everyday practice is shaping the perception of cities. Ever since the opening of the Guggenheim-Museum in Bilbao in 1997 and the subsequent visual determination of the city – if not the entire region – by an onslaught of merely slightly varying views of the same building, urban managers all over the world have been trying to purposefully re-create this effect by commissioning ever more extravagant buildings as a means of branding their cities. Largely un-noticed, the perception of this “iconic architecture” is very much influenced by the availability of adequate photo-opportunities that allow convenient, yet nonetheless spectacular images to be taken and subsequently disseminated in large numbers via social media platforms by tourists and other visitors. Taking Hong Kong as a starting point and case study, this paper looks at the background, nature and workings of such urban photo-opportunities, and comes to the conclusion that potentially the photo-opportunity may even work – in terms of shaping the perception of a city – without any especially iconic building at all.
Peter Benz completed his degree in Architecture at Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany. After several years working in the design field, he was invited in 2001 to join the Media Faculty of the Bauhaus-University as a member of the Media Events-area. Since September 2006, he has taken up a position – initially as Assistant Professor, since September as Associate Professor – teaching studio- and research-courses in design and visual arts at undergraduate and graduate level for the Academy of Visual Arts of Hong Kong Baptist University.
His personal research interests lie especially in the investigation and development of possibilities and methodologies for designing experience. He is further interested in everyday phenomena, in particular in everyday products and in “un-designed” marginal spaces. The latter lead to a continuous preoccupation with the medialisation of cities, which he explores through text and photography.
As a result of his administrative duties, he has further become increasingly involved with research & development of digital tools for design education, as well as with more general issues of the creative economy, which have led, for instance, to the founding of the Young Artist Agency (YAA) in Hong Kong, and a major survey-project on the economic livelihood of Hong Kong’s visual artists.
Amy Cheung Artist, Research Fellow
Institute of the Future Cities, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Alan Kwan Artist, Technologist
Migrating Memories into Virtual Architecture.
This project involves creating a virtual reality (VR) immersion that allows visitors to experience the psychological landscape of Chinese immigrants in New York’s Chinatown. In this immersive experience, visitors will interactively navigate through a 3D virtual architectural environment whereby they will not only encounter personal objects highlighted by Chinese immigrants but also a montage of spaces illustrating their memories, dreams and fantasies. This paper aims to show that virtual reality allows data of objects, structures and dynamic forces to be assigned values beyond physical limits of our world; that virtual architecture can also perform functions independent of technical constraints, as a spatial occupation reflecting the emotional interiority of our minds. We are not using virtual reality to stimulate real space, but to portray our mental phenomenon as architectural forms. Being immaterial, ever-changing and fragmentary, these virtual architectures are designed to emulate the fluid nature of human memories.
Our presentation seeks to depart from the conventional mode of utilizing quantitative data, maps, classifications, graphs and various statistical models to describe the quasi-dimensional struggle of the migrant populations. Following Bernard Tschumi’s conceptualization of event, action, movement and environmental trigger as interpretative mechanism for architectural experiences, we apply these guiding elements in VR to govern the trajectories of these migrants’ disjunctive spatial scripts and configure how emotional objects and traumatic memories are superimposed to manifest the matrix of a collective mindscape. Through examining the interdependency of the intimate psychological journeys beneath with the external ideological, socio-economic and political incidences, we hope to eventually develop a virtual reality therapeutic clinic that can strengthen the wellbeing of the migrant populations.
Amy Cheung was born in Hong Kong and is now based in New York. She specializes in large-scale installations and interdisciplinary collaboration, primarily using “question-as-medium” to begin her creative process in dialogue with the public. Cheung gained her BA in History of Art & Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London, and her MFA from the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London (UCL). She was named one of Beck’s New Contemporaries in the UK and awarded the UNESCO-Aschberg Laureate, by the International Fund for the Promotion of Culture. She represented Hong Kong at the 52th Venice Biennale in 2007, and subsequently received the Outstanding Young Artist Award (Visual Arts) from the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. She received the Lee Hysan Foundation Fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to further study Psychology at Stanford and Art Therapy at NYU. Recently, she has collaborated with the Stanford Prison Experiment creator Philip Zimbardo for “Imagine.Hero”. She taught MA Fine Art at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for 5 years and was the founding director of interdisciplinary design agency and experimental label “handkerchief”.
Alan Kwan is an artist and technologist whose works explore experimental forms of artistic expression and spatial
representation enabled by virtual reality technology. His projects have been shown at international venues including the Ars
Electronica Festival in Austria, ZKM Center for Art and Media in Germany and Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Shanghai. In 2014, he received the Hong Kong Arts Development Council Award for Young Artist (Media Art), and the Asian
Cultural Council Fellowship to pursue his graduate studies in the Department of Architecture at MIT. In 2015, he was awarded
the first prize of the MIT Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize for his body of work combining art and technology.
Saba Innab Architect, Artist
Al Rahhalah: Contested Spaces for Palestinian refugees in Kuwait, Jordan and Lebanon.
This project revisits the relationship of construction and land to time, to temporariness that gradually transforms – or deforms – into permanence. Referencing the Palestinian refugee and exile in particular, but also the region in general, the work looks at different patterns of living in temporariness and recognizes them as typologies and know-hows that span geographically and territorially.
Those spaces of temporariness are recreated and materialized, becoming a topographic realm between the past and the present; forming an archaeological site, a record inscribed in the architecture of everyday life. Those patterns can be seen as a derivative of modernity or as a “side effect” creating a language that is triggered by need rather than desire.
The genesis of modernity in the Middle East was in complete isolation to the historic and socio- economic conditions that produced the avant-garde project. However, modernity was an event that led to series of forced events of divisions and borders, becoming the inaugural moment of exile and displacement as we know it now.
The project builds around different sites: Kuwait, Amman and the Nahr el Bared Camp. Kuwait started receiving a majority of Palestinian migrant workers at the beginning of the oil boom. In Jordan, Palestinians were core to the formation of the nation state and its modern capital, Amman. Nahr el Bared is a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon that was demolished in 2007 by the Lebanese army after an Islamist fundamentalist group took over it.
Saba Innab is an architect, urban researcher, and artist practicing out of Amman and Beirut. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. She has participated in Home Workspace Project in Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2011–2012). Her work has been shown in various exhibitions, most recently in Marrakesh Biennial 6 – 2016, Home Works 7 in Beirut, “Lest the two Seas Meet” at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw in 2015 and HIWAR at Darat al Funun-Amman (2013–2014). She has worked as an architect and urban designer with UNRWA on the reconstruction of the Nahr el Bared Camp in the North of Lebanon, a project nominated for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2013. Most recently, she has received the visiting research fellowship initiated by Studio-X Amman – Columbia GSAPP in 2014. Through painting, mapping, sculpture and design, her work explores the suspended states between temporality and permanence, and is concerned with variable notions of dwelling, building and language in architecture.
Paulo Moreira is a Portuguese architect and researcher based in Porto, Portugal. He is a PhD candidate at The Cass School of Architecture, London Metropolitan University. Moreira is the co-coordinator of The Chicala Observatory, a research cluster based at the Department of Architecture, Agostinho Neto University (Angola). The project has been widely published and displayed in major cultural institutions, including the Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rhein, 2015), the Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao, 2015–2016), the CCCB – Centre of Contemporary Culture (Barcelona, 2016), the TA Museum of Art (Tel Aviv, 2016) and Palazzo Mora, as part of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Paulo Moreira has been awarded the Tavora Prize (Ordem dos Arquitectos, 2012); the Prize for Social Entrepreneurship (The Cass, 2009); and the Noel Hill Travel Award (American Institute of Architects – UK Chapter, 2009), among other honours and distinctions.
Johannes Warda (PhD) is an architectural scholar and teacher at Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. After studying History, American Studies, Political Science, and Architecture in Jena, Weimar, and Berkeley, he received his Doctoral degree in architecture and preservation in 2014 (»Veto des Materials. Denkmaldiskurs, Wiederaneignung von Architektur und modernes Umweltbewusstsein«) from Bauhaus-Universität. He is a Fulbright alumnus and has received a dissertation grant from the German National Academic Foundation, and in 2015/16 the Bauhaus Postdoc Scholarship. Johannes‘ research focuses on sustainability, preservation, architectural history of ideas, and architectural and design theory. He is a founding member of the design collective das entwurfskollektiv. His essays and articles about architecture, design, and the environment appeared in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Merkur, and HORIZONTE. Zeitschrift für Architekturdiskurs. Forthcoming: »Keeping West Berlin ›As Found‹. Alison Smithson, Hardt-Waltherr Hämer and 1970s Proto-Preservation Urban Renewal«, East West Central, Vol. 03: Re-framing Identities. Architecture’s Turn to History 1970–1990, eds. Ákos Moravánszky/Torsten Lange (Basel: Birkhäuser, fall 2016). In fall 2016/17, Johannes is lecturer at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.