“So revolutionary his ideas”, opined the Austrian state broadcaster ORF in 1969 of architect Hans Hollein, “when he enunciates them they sound like the cosy, cordial habitiere of ages past. His ‘schauen se‘ and ‘eeeeeh‘ conjure up Fiaker, the chatter and gossip on Graben, the Riesenrad, memories of alt-Wien“.1
With Hollein Calling. Architectural Dialogues the Architekturzentrum Wien invite one to explore in more detail the vocabulary and articulation of Hans Hollein…….
According to Germanic folklore, “If December is wild with rain, then leave your fields and get thee to an architecture or design museum”
Our five locations for escaping the rains of December 2023 can be found in Cottbus, Rome, Maastricht, Tallinn and Zürich…….
There is an argument to be made that popular understandings of, and the popular presentation of, inter-War European avant-garde architecture and design tend to focus on Germany and Russia, and on Functionalism, popular foci that tend to cause us all to forget that the inter-War European avant-Garde was a homogenous mix of positions and, and as with the Art Nouveau before it, an international moment defined by its variety of regional dialects.
With the exhibition Hej rup! The Czech Avant-Garde the Bröhan Museum, Berlin, provide for an introductory course in inter-War Czechoslovakian…….
With the exhibition Everything at Once: Postmodernity, 1967–1992 the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, request a more considered response…….
Back in the spring Haitian musician Wyclef Jean informed us all he’d be “Gone Till November”.
And so he should be back any day now; and given how busy he’s invariably been all summer, earning as he has been enough money to buy out blocks, he’s probably not had a chance to visit an architecture or design museum. And so, we assume, will be absolutely desperate to stimulate his cognitive faculties.
Our five recommendations for new exhibitions opening in November 2023 for Wyclef Jean, or indeed for anyone seeking to achieve fresh perspectives on architecture, design and the world around us, can be found in Vienna, Oslo, Brno, Krefeld and Ljubljana…….
“If we want to survive, if we want to reach the next level”, postulated the German architect Günther L. Eckert in 1980, “we simply have to risk the impossible. It is too easy to invest only in common logic and to dismiss everything that does not have these specific characteristics, everything that encroaches into the incorruptible dimensions of creative self-consent”.1
Günther L. Eckert’s “impossible”, his distancing from “common logic”, his encroaching “into the incorruptible dimensions of creative self-consent”, was the so-called Kontinuum, Continuum, a 250 metre diameter tube which formed a complete, unbroken, circle around the globe, constituted a Kontinuum around the globe, and in which all humanity was to live.
With the exhibition The Tube. An Architecture for Conceivable Times, the Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge, Berlin, introduce Eckert’s Kontinuum and thereby allow space for reflections on not only architecture and the built environments we create for ourselves, and the whys and wherefores of those environments, but also on the possibilities for the future of both human societies and the natural environment on which we all depend.
And an exhibition on a Kontinuum that is also the last Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge exhibition in their long-time home in Berlin-Kreuzberg, marks the end of their continuance in Berlin-Kreuzberg, before their imminent, involuntary, investor enforced relocation…….
Much as the (hi)story of architecture is also a chronicle of developments and changes in the social, cultural, economic, ecological, technical, et al realities of any given region, so to is the (hi)story of a region’s parks and gardens and urban green spaces.
Whereby the (hi)story of the latter is much less often popularly employed in studying and interpreting and learning from the (hi)story of a region than the former.
With the showcase Of Gardens and People. Designed Nature, Art and Landscape Architecture the Austrian National Library, Vienna, allow for reflections on gardens and parks throughout (hi)story and in doing encourage us all to take them as seriously as we do the architecture amongst which they invariably stand…….
In 1981 Irish stadium rockers U2 noted of October:
“And the trees are stripped bare,
Of all they wear”
That of course was 1981, before the, then approaching but much less tangible, irreversible consequences of climate change meant that the trees in Ireland, and across Europe, still proudly wear their leaves throughout October. A new reality that, we’d argue, may soon see U2 forced to rename the song ‘November’.
A reality, and a coming renaming, that sets the final line of the opening verse:
“What do I care?”
in a new, a troubling, and an important light.
One we all need to think about.
And little stimulates thoughts on contemporary and future society, contemporary and future relationships with the world around us, both the natural and humanmade, and forces a questioning of what we want, why we want it, and if we care, quite like an architecture and/or design exhibition.
Our five recommended new exhibition openings in October 2023 can be found in Chemnitz, Hornu, London, Brussels and Milan…….
In context of the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar, that first wide-ranging presentation of the school, its work and its understandings of itself and the world in which it existed, the institute presented with the Haus am Horn by Georg Muche and its interior, furniture, fittings and accessories by the likes of, and amongst others, Erich Dieckmann, Alma Buscher, Otto Lindig, Benita Otte or Marcel Breuer, a synopsis of the prevailing understandings of and positions to domestic arrangements and domesticity amongst the Weimar Bauhäusler.
With their 2023 theme year Wohnen the Klassik Stiftung Weimar take us all back to a century and a bit before Haus am Horn and to understandings of and positions to domestic arrangements and domesticity in the late-18th/early-19th century Weimar of Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, Herder et al.
And also consider possible future understandings of and positions to domestic arrangements and domesticity as we all move towards 2123…….
In the alpine regions of Europe the arrival of September marks the start of the Almabtrieb, that annual migration of the cattle, sheep and goats of the region from their high pastures to the valleys far, far below.
A migration undertaken because, as the cattle, sheep and goats of the alps innately understand, September is the month when the global architecture and design museum community (slowly) end their summer siesta and begin to invite us all to peruse their autumn/winter exhibition programmes.
And a migration that looks particularly worthwhile in September 2023, being as it is abloom with a crop of new showcases every bit as enticing and flavoursome as the herb rich pastures of any alpine alm. Indeed so bountiful is the September 2023 harvest we could have written two lists. For probity’s sake we stick with the one.
Our five reasons for saying Servus, Tschüs and Adieu to the fresh air and green, green, grass of the high alps and venturing into the city can be found in Frankfurt, New York, Kolding, Vienna and Malmö…….
Arising in the early 1950s from a collective, a community, who had been ardently opposed to the NSDAP, their world view and their warmongering dictatorship, the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm understood itself very much in context of the post-War re-development of society, the post-War development of a new democratic, future-resilient, society. In West Germany and further afield.
Thus it is little wonder that synthetic plastics, that material class which post-War offered, embodied, (seductively, unscrupulously) foretold, the promise of a borderless democracy, an egalitarian global society, should have been a material of experimentation and utilisation at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm.
With Plastic Material − Magic Material: Freedom and Limits of Design the HfG-Archiv, Ulm, reflect on synthetic plastics in context of the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. And also in context of society and democracy…….
As in August 2022!!
And once again, not us, we’re here, we’re busy, we’re keen, we’re chomping at the bit; but the international architecture and design museum community have very clearly decided amongst themselves not to open new exhibitions in August. Whereby, yes, August always was a slow month for new openings but that in August 2022 and August 2023 we should find but one new showcase is a signal of something more than a coincidence.
And, as with August 2022, one exhibition is clearly not a list.
Thus in place of a list of new exhibitions, we offer here two geographically arranged lists of those architecture and design exhibitions on show in August 2023 and which you can, should, must, visit.
Whereby, and as ever, the list is in no way exhaustive, we have without question missed interesting and informative showcases, so please check local press for what is happening wherever you happen to be…….
In July 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and as Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar module he announced it was, “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind”.
And inarguably it was. And was.
But what has it brought mankind?
Apart from an awful lot of conspiracy theories. And an ongoing fascination with space that drives the irrational belief that in the 21st century we urgently require everything which appeared in 1950s and 1960s science fiction comics and films in order to have happy, functioning societies.
Yes, it also brought us Gil Scott-Heron’s, ever glorious, and still very relevant, Whitey on the Moon; a work that through it’s continuing, unabated, undiluted, relevance reminds us all how little Apollo 11 has brought mankind.
Other small steps can, we’d argue, be much more meaningful. Can enable longer leaps in more meaningful directions.
Such as the small step into an architecture or design museum; a step that can, will, inform and entertain, can, will, allow fresh insights and perspectives, can, will, cause a questioning and reflection: and thereby, potentially, enable the development of differentiated thoughts and appreciations on the now and on that now still to come. And perhaps in doing so quell a few conspiracy theories. And so allow for the development of a future worthy of the name.
Our five featured short steps for July 2023 can be taken in Stuttgart, New York, Hornu, London and Berlin…….
“Customs turn into habits, some modest, some all-powerful”, opined Le Corbusier in 1950, a reference to that inexplicable way humans have of passing through life blithely accepting all that has come before, accepting all that existed when they were born, as fixed and immutable and unchallengeable; an acceptance of the familiar, the existing, as fixed and immutable and unchallengeable that, for Le Corbusier, represented a major hindrance to the “free play of the mind”. However, Le Corbusier continues, “a simple decision can sweep away the obstacle, clearing the path for life”.1
A simple decision such as sweeping away the customs turned habits of “the metre or the foot-and-inch” as the basis of measurement and sweeping in a measurement system based on human proportions.
A simple decision that Le Corbusier very much favoured we make.
A simple decision which Le Corbusier made, and for which he developed a scale of proportions, le Modulor.
If a simple decision that as The Modulor — Measure and Proportion at Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich, helps elucidate, wasn’t that simple; and one which, while while it didn’t, ¿hasn’t yet? become the ubiquitous construction and planning tool Le Corbusier envisaged, nor has it (¿yet?) cleared any notable paths for the greater majority of us, does allow one to better approach better appreciations of Le Corbusier, his work, his positions and his place in the (hi)story of architecture and design…….
According to Germanic folklore, A cold and wet June spoils the whole year.
For farmers possibly, but not for the rest of us, as a cold, wet June is a perfect excuse to visit an architecture or design exhibition, an experience that can only enrich and enliven and invigorate the rest of the not only your year, but your life.
Our recommendations for new showcases opening in June 2023 can be found in Värnamo, Ljubljana, East Lansing, Vienna and Ulm…….
Everyone knows that the Nazis built Autobahnen. Everyone knows that the Nazis built an imposing and daunting parade ground in Nürnberg. And that they had outrageous, decadent, plans for Berlin. But the wider architecture and spatial planning projects of the NSDAP dictatorship are not only a lot less well known, but a lot less well understood, and certainly far less well popularly reflected on in wider contexts of the relationships between architecture, spatial planning, state, community, identity, control etc, etc, etc. Similarly far too irregularly posed is the question why and wherefore the NSDAP undertook so many varied and various architecture and spatial planning projects; and when it is posed is all too often answered with well worn references to representation and a desire to drive their shiny new Volkswagens, their shiny new Porsches, really, really fast.
With the exhibition Power Space Violence. Planning and Building under National Socialism the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, allow one to begin to reflect on such themes and also to begin to learn to better formulate such questions…….
An oak; A cultural good; A material
In the northern Hemisphere May is a month of ritual; rituals primarily associated with the awakening of nature, the approaching of summer with the associated hope of a successful and bountiful harvest. And rituals which include, amongst many others, maypoles in various contexts, bonfires for various reasons and a myriad dances, including the traditional English children’s dance/game Nuts in May, with its repetition of the line “Here we come gathering nuts in May”… which obviously raises the pertinent question, which nuts can, could, should one gather in England in May? Or indeed anywhere in northern Europe in May? Are they not all a bit underdeveloped in May? Is gathering nuts in late summer, early autumn not a more worthwhile experience? As squirrels do.
So, children and adults alike, don’t waste your time looking for edible nuts in May and invest your time instead in visiting an architecture and/or design exhibition and thereby gathering fresh perspectives and insights in May.
Our five recommendations for new shows opening in May 2023 can be found in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Helsinki, Friedrichshafen and, once again, Rotterdam…….
It is, we’d argue, fair to say that most people in western Europe still have a very stereotypical, skewed, if not prejudiced view of late 20th century design in and from those nations that form the eastern half of the European continent.
With Retrotopia. Design for Socialist Spaces the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, in cooperation with numerous museums and institutions from across eastern Europe, provide an introduction to post-War 20th century architecture and design in and from Croatia, the Czech Republic, East Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Ukraine, and in doing so invite us all to begin to approach more probable and more meaningful positions……
Although the etymology of “April” is lost in the mists of time, one of the more likely, and more satisfying, theories as to its origins is to be found in the Latin verb aperire, to open, which itself can be considered as being, possibly, related to the ancient Greek ἄνοιξις, ánoixis, opening. And thus the very obvious connotations to spring springing forth in April, to the natural world opening for another season.
What is much better recorded are the new architecture and design exhibitions apertio and ἄνοιξις in April 2023. Springing forth in April 2023.
Our five recommendations from those many new springtime blooms can be found in Zürich, Weil am Rhein, Paris, Hasselt and Dresden…….
Amongst the great many things the experiences of the last couple of years have brought to the fore, and have unequivocally reinforced, is the importance to humans, collectively and individually, of outdoor spaces; not just for fresh air, movement, relaxation and physical well-being, but also for mental well-being.
With Garden Futures. Designing with Nature the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, explore the garden as such an outdoor space, and also as a cultural space, as a design space, as a social space, as a political space and in doing so allow for reflections and considerations on not only gardens but humanity’s wider relationships with the natural world…….
“How did I end up going to technical school?” asked once the Finnish architect Wivi Lönn, rhetorically, “I had building in my blood, and it pulled me in.”1
With the exhibition Long Live Wivi Lönn! the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, help elucidate not only how that innate urge expressed itself, but also that for all the apparent ease contained in Lönn’s account of an innate urge being followed, for a Wivi Lönn, and for the great many Wivi Lönn’s over the past 200 years, it wasn’t that simple, if every bit as self-evident…….
“March is the Month of Expectation.
The things we do not know”,
opined once the American poet Emily Dickinson.1
Easily enough resolved!!!
And no, not by “Persons of prognostication”, whom one should definitely always “show becoming firmness”; but by visiting an architecture or design exhibition and approaching that which you don’t know via your own inquiry and questioning and reasoning.
Our five recommended locations for transforming expectations into knowledge in March 2023 can be found in Berlin, Espoo, New York, Nyköping and Weil am Rhein…….