ARCHITECTS IN LOVE: SHORT FILMS OF BERLIN
A luck luster festival of short films in Berling struggled to hold its audience’s attention but raised critical questions of the city’s relationship to its past
Berlin-based website Architectuul.com was founded three years ago by a group of architects and architecture-lovers. As an online platform for the international architecture community − part social network, part architecture database − the founders wanted to explore the question: how can you describe a building?
John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower, built for the Berlin Internationale Bauaustellung of 1987
Architects in Love is presented in Lisbon this autumn as part of the Lisbon Triennale’s seemingly endless stream of offshoot programmes, but it had its launch screening in September 2013 at the Walther Koenig bookstore in Berlin. The first four movies (all shot in Berlin) were shown, and the featured architects were present for brief questions in-between. By far the most compelling of the four documentaries − each under 10 minutes − was with Robert Slinger of Kapok Architects. Slinger chose a building where he lived for several years, John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower, a 14-storey Postmodern residence from the 1980s. His intimate knowledge of the unusual interior spaces led to insightful formal interpretations − describing the tower as an ‘anthropomorphic’ figure; and philosophical meditations − asserting, based on his experience living in its unusual interior, that good architecture should provide ‘the combination of a challenge and an inspiration’.
Architect Robert Slinger celebrates the building through the medium of film
It’s not that architecture should only be depicted via glamorous, Iwan Baan-quality money-shots; alternate, real-life documentation is sorely needed in the field. Yet in the absence of time and resources for making a movie, a creative approach to make the most of the material is crucial. For instance, while Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles has a remarkably simple premise, it’s Reyner Banham’s incisive take on the city that makes the video work − at once an ode to the city that Banham loved and a portrait of Banham himself. The architects’ personalities are what would make these videos compelling, especially in the absence of high-quality shots or interior views. Moreover, if shooting inside a building isn’t permitted, how about images and models?
The building was recently saved by activists from a deeply insensitive makeover proposed by developers
On the night of the screening, Walther Koenig was so packed it proved futile to stand in line for a post-screening glass of wine. This goes to show how many architects and enthusiasts in Berlin are actively searching for forums to talk about architecture. Now is a critical time for the city, as new development is rapidly altering the urban context. That’s why the particular focus of this series strikes a chord. Concentrating on beloved existing buildings, rather than obsessing over flashy new construction, provides a way for Berliners to stay linked to the past. And it’s crucial for the architecture community to come together in support of the buildings we love. Slinger’s adored Kreuzberg Tower, for instance, has been threatened with defacement; only outspoken local support has preserved it.
> via TheArchitecturalReview