Vienna Berlin & Basel

Destinations: Vienna, Berlin, Basel
Date: Summer 2010
Professor: Ila Berman,Mona El Khafif, Antje Steinmüller

A 6 credit advanced studio program which includes 4 weeks of travel abroad offers students the opportunity to experience significant works of architecture in their Central European context, and gain first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures. Each of the cities to be explored are historic centers that have been radically transformed in the last 15 years by an influx of contemporary works. The travel program begins in Vienna, the former seat of the Austro-Hungarian/Hapsburg Empire and the historic center of Viennese Secessionism—Vienna’s Art Nouveau. The works of Otto Wagner, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Joseph Hoffmann, and Adolf Loos are situated amidst the music of Mozart and the thinking of Freud, a deep cultural history that forms an illustrious backdrop for dynamic contemporary architecture. Vienna is a layered city, offering a unique case-study for new urban strategies as well as contemporary housing tactics as seen in pilot projects such as the “homeworkers” by BUS Architecture or the new PPT developed on the site of the old Cable Factory in Meidling. In addition to the development of the new Danube Island and the work of firms such as Coop Himmelblau, Gunther Domenig, Domenique Perrault and others, young firms like BKK3, Pool Architects, Rataplan, Delugan Meissl and AWG represent the next generation of forward thinking architects that are transforming this truly impressive historic and cultural city.

From Vienna, we will travel to Berlin, a city marked by great contrasts, turmoil, and the tremendous energy of its history. Oversize statues of Marx and Engels sit next to the Neo-Classicism of Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum. Peter Behrens and the Deutsche Werkbund float in the background of Mies van der Rohe’s National Gallery and the Expressionism of the Berlin Philharmonic by Hans Scharoun. These significant architectural artifacts are directly adjacent to the transformation of Potsdamer Platz, where a fragment of the Berlin wall sits among new constructions by Renzo Piano and Arata Isozaki. The reconstruction of Berlin after World War II and new developments within the reunified Berlin after 1989 lead to numerous architectural competitions and massive redevelopment transforming the face of this city. The renovation of the Reichstag and the new capitol buildings by Axel Schultes, are complemented by the many new foreign consulates, each of which brought to bear their best architects on Berlin. Koolhaas’s Dutch consulate, Libeskind’s Jewish Museum, Eisenman’s Holocaust Memorial, and many other important works have made Berlin one of the most unique contemporary cities in the world. Despite the globalization of Berlin, within contemporary architecture we also see the influence of the earlier modern history on a number of contemporary architects of the region including those in Germany such as Sauerbruch Hutton, Axel Schultes and Barkow Leibinger among others.

Finally, Switzerland is home to significant new work in the realm of architecture, best known for the traditions of the Swiss school from Diener & Diener to Herzog & de Meuron, Peter Zumthor, and Gigon + Guyer. Basel is a city of only a quarter of a million inhabitants with over 40 museums and galleries, and one of the most significant collection of important architectural works. Basel and its surrounding region provide an environment ultimately obsessed with high quality rigorous design practices and precise material techniques. These cities and their architectural background will provide a rich environment as a support for the for the design of the contemporary urbanity.

Inventing Urbanity European 10
The focus of the studio portion of the Vienna, Berlin and Basel travel program is the Europan 10 competition. The Europan Competition is an international biennial European competition for young architects, challenging contemporary issues of urban design and housing since 1991. The topic of 2009 is: Inventing Urbanity : Revitalization, Regeneration and Colonization, focusing on spatial design strategies to ensure the quality of public spaces and urban environments. The studio will start with a conceptual design workshop in Vienna working in cooperation with students from Stuttgart and Vienna, and will continue in San Francisco at the end of the travel portion of the course. At the end of the 4 weeks of travel, students will have the opportunity to continue their travel for two weeks independently before continuing the design studio in San Francisco.

VBB1
VBB2