EPICENTRES AT THE PERIPHERY
installation views of the exhibition
|„Deutschlandscape“ – may well confound preconceived
notions of the contemporary architecture scene in Germany. The
fresh overview of over 38 built projects throughout Germany
dating between 2000 and 2004 is a deliberate shift in focus
away from metropolitan urban centres to the more peripheral
areas on the urban fringe.
Deutschlandscape is an assemblage, the word itself a laconic
parody of a typology. A hybrid scape, it intends to provide
a variable frame for a heterogeneous selection of architectural
projects that undertake to reactivate spaces within the urban
sprawl, suburban and de-industrialised zones. These are residual,
often overlooked spaces, the amorphous in-between spaces which
evade description, or those which have outlived their former
|The aesthetic ambivalence of the diffuse outlying urban landscape
with its storage warehouses, malls and business parks interspersed
with housing estates is such that architects rarely leave their
mark here, and yet the sheer banality of such architectural
vernacular becomes - within the Deutschlandscape - a basis for
architectural intervention and transformation.
|In their collective argument, the projects exhibited within
the Deutschlandscape seek to open up a broader discourse - focussing
upon the featureless landscapes of the urban margins and provincial
|In this sense, the focus of the Deutschlandscape confronts
a malaise, which makes itself felt throughout Europe. How to
influence this ever-spreading and indistinct terrain, and in
what ways can architecture take on this task?
|The periphery therefore becomes identifiable not simply as
a place but also as a condition - one lying beyond the bounds
of cognition, out of the focus of the architectural mainstream,
and yet provides a fertile ground for an architectural avant-garde
prepared to confront such problematic areas.
|Epicentres at the periphery represent architectural flashpoints.
They reveal that it is possible to generate paradigmatic shifts
by administering architecture in homeopathic doses in areas
seemingly impervious to change. They show how the urban margins
have become significant fields of architectural experimentation.
|With ironic self-reflection, architectural norms and conventional
typologies are reworked and given a new aesthetic twist. The
built projects by a critical young generation of German architects
reveal a highly innovative use of new materials, generate suburban
'plug-ins' - temporary and mobile architecture, and alter the
familiar with skill to create solutions which are both provocative
and enigmatic. Existing structures are 'implanted' with new
functions, creating surreal juxtapositions and architecture
that profoundly influences its surroundings in spite of its
small or moderate scale. The most effective architectural strategies
here tend towards the micropolitical - incorporating the everyday,
or appropriating and reworking what is already there. Rejecting
elitist aestheticism and taking risks, the exhibited architectural
statements represent a spirit of invention within a profession
beleaguered by economic constraints.