Mengyao Han, Giulia Chiatante and Luka Milovanović
Approaching the context of Berlin, one specific characteristic of the city, Monumentality, was identified.
As the pattern has been scattered and deformed by scars of the city’s history, the skyline has grown consistently extending as an open hand, it’s long shadows over the green voids of the German capita. In this continuous escalation of power, Berlin has been defined as the city in perpetual becoming, but never be. This feeling is tangibly perceivable on the edges of the central area, where bad operations from the past merge with the new and the dynamic, with just one rule in common: rigidity.
A perfect grid seems to be what the city is going towards with a wheezy run, and never reaching, looking as its destiny is to be a collage of intentions that will never reach accordance. The area, formerly intent to the industrial production, with its chimneys which rise from the horizon as skeletons between the underbrush of oaks, is now moving to a different production: Art.
The new building is like a monument, almost temple – like, with a constant tension and dynamicity toward a pure form, but distorted and slightly crooked, breaking the grid it created itself, following the example of the city of Berlin.
In one of these areas, formerly engraved by strong lines, emerges from the water a monolithic stone.Tangled and shaped by the surrounding, the building looks over the river, sacred fluxes of lines, and is watched by the city, entering with all rights, of heights, in the skyline. As the monolith rises, it goes defining the necessity of a treshold, a ring to define it`s edge and towards which it can relate, contructing a base and enriching its volumes. In the end, with the ‘ring’ following the city grid and the ‘cube’ parallel to the river bank, a strong typology contrast between the two typologies becomes the unique art museum.
For the image presentation, a combination of fine art with the actual space of the project was adopted (mostly using David Hockney’s art pieces as the main resource). The main focus being that of creating an atmosphere which would reveal the poetic aspect of the space without sacrificing the practical usefulness.
Who influences you graphically?
We are easily inspired, the three of us have different tastes and references from fine arts to photography.One thing that we have in common is the attraction to images that have a peculiar character expressing a message that we can interpret, often in very different ways. Artists like Edward Ruscha or Andrew Wyeth have all given us better understanding of what a more interesting image is. From old Japanese illustration, to Flemish art, passing through pop art, it all depends on the situation we are in. Sometimes we forcibly put our personal preferences inside the image, this process can somehow work similarly to literature, were the author decides the appearance or destiny of the characters he creates.
You mainly explore your proposal 3 dimensionally, what is the motive behind this choice?
For us, exploring 3d perspectives is a more straightforward tool to know directly what we want to achieve in the project. Imagination can be applied on three dimensions a lot easier, while plans and sections might be tricky to define the feelings of the space. The 3d, both digital and physical, are important tools in reaching the final image of the work. In this particular case, the model was very useful also for a pragmatic study of the interior natural lightning, which influenced the design in some aspects of the facades.
Why were Hockney’s characters appropriated and what is the effect of this juxtaposition of time and space on your proposal?
Hockney depicts a sort of colorfoul, still life of the American’s periphery, where his figurers fit in a flat and abstracted architectural environment.In this sense, they become multilayered,keeping the level of simplicity of the image, but enriched of details and personality, they create a story. We were fascinated by this feature, that allows Hockney’s work to be so suitable for architectural images, in what has become a trend in many recent works in the architectural representation world. The pure exemplification in his works, the plane surfaces and neat layout, well suited our idea of the project as a composition of simple volumes. The distant gazing in the eyes of the characters brings a poetic feeling that might add another dimension to the space we created. All these devices create a richer atmosphere of time and space, still, they maintain a level of abstraction as a whole. Due to this abstraction, the picture results as simplified representation of the architecture, not aiming to be a carbon copy of reality.
The exterior views seem to have a very contrasting atmosphere compared to the interior perspectives, how does this influence the way people perceive and use the space?
While defining the volumes and facades, we intended to interact more with the city of Berlin and its character, introducing a public space coherent with the intervention. At the same time the interior spaces are designed to relate more to the functions and brief, with a higher degree of flexibility. This off scale space that we created, is articulated in different relations between confining spaces, defining an overall complexity that follows the whole building. In this way the space can host different types of contemporary art, fulfilling its main function. Both the interior and exterior show a minimalistic approach that we tried to maintain constant during the development of the project.
You mention Berlin as having heavily influenced the character of the proposal, however you neglect to feature it within the images, why so?
The analysis of Berlin has been a fundamental step that influenced all the main decisions we took during the design. It was very interesting for us to understand the processes that created the actual urban situation of the city and its fragmented composition. From our understanding, the city architecture is characterized by monumentality and rigidity that we somehow wanted to feature in the building. Then we introduced the composition to define a suitable trait for a contemporary art museum. This was meant to contrast the chaos of lines of the urban context converging in the site. Combining these two aspects the building would become both a response to the environment and the result of our intentions, being able to work in the relation of the site and as a new image for it. The project then assumed a certain freedom from the context, yet still remaining its product.
Mengyao Han, Giulia Chiatante and Luka Milovanović are a group of students from Politecnico di Milano who are about to complete their Master Degree in Architecture. They are a group of international students working as a team trying to discover new approaches both for architecture projects and the visualization itself.