Architecture of the Limit

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Students, Texture

Architecture of the Limit. A project in Holzmarktstraße, Berlin.

Marco Giovinazzo

The proposal of the project reviews a former East-Berlin urban block, fit between the iconic DDR discrict of Karl Marx Allee, the S-Bahn train line and the limit of river Spree.

The aim of the project is to recover the former city plan besides its fisical and antropic limits, generating new spaces and formal relations with the city.


The site is to be considered as a border urban block, close the very centre of the city. The district, historically focusing on trading and commerce, became a condensated residential area during the Industrial century. The amount of stone buildings was erased off by world war two bombs, and the site became a ruin desert.

The recontstruction of the site, in the arm of DDR politics, testify the modernist experience through the prefab stalinist and late-modern language. The train line became an unexpected brake to the reconstruction experience. Onto the bounduary of the socialist district and the limit of the train line, the project site is left without any architectonic review. The goal of the project is to relate the project with the entire site. The program of intervention provides public and private spaces. In analogy with the former berlin courtyard typ, Höf, the architectures are declined and set by a sequence of fill and empty spaces.

The train line, erected on the limit of the river is an effective wall at the time. The project proposes to open the arches onto the river, generating exceptional spaces in face of the water; these on-water room would relate with the new construction spaces. The new construction spaces, organized by the theme of the courtyard, express though a minimalist and essential language.


Meanwhile the ground level is an open public facilities system, the private residential space is a sequence of terraced shapes directly watching the city and the river from the top.  In head of the masterplan, two high buildings facing a huge forum: a directional tower and a civic centre. This public spot will relate with the train station of Jannowitzbrücke.

At the end of the planning, one more high building for essenciale residences.


Who influences you graphically?

I think that every single work may be attributed by a single own graphic. For this specific work, I choose a reference path that can be identified in the architecture representation of 1980s.  This is because my work is set for Berlin, and the aim of the proposal is a radical review of the former plan of the city, a similar behaviour to the experience of IBA ’84 (then ’87). As a result of this, you can find a remote homage to IBA’s axonometric drawings, O.M. Ungers’ proposals for the city of Berlin and so on.

In addittion to this ‘berliner heritage’ I’ve been looking for similar expressions in the architecture panorama. Very far reference can be found with superstudio, OMA, other experiencies of telling the architecture as a story of contrasts, a never-closed design, a constaintly open review.

To what extent do you agree with the axonometric a the most complete form of drawing?

I suggest it can be the right form of drawing depending on what you want to communicate. In this case, due to the scale of the project, to fully perceive the quality of the spaces, from the bigger to the smaller, the axonometric view is the best form of ensure a complete reading of the proposal. Meanwhile a perspective view may tell the quality of a living space, the axonometric is pure and strict telling of how the design is set, mounted, built.


What defined the graphic approach for the proposal?

As for first I had to consider that the project was going to be submitted to a commission of professors during my thesis dissertation. As a result of this I choose an essential and minimalist story-telling of my study path that made me point to this specific graphic-project. If we assume the project as the vision of its designer, graphics is the language we speak.

To whom is it addressed? As we speak a certain form of language with certain interlocutors, in this occasion the language I used is to speak and reach the architecture enviroment, discussing themes and issues with the clarity of the design.


How and what elements dictated the way you chose to frame specific views?

The proposal is deeply urban referred. It is a path of re-discover the intimacy of spaces to live, to rest, to work, through essential themes of the city (Berlin).

Views are, in this context, the expression of an imaginary scenary. From the abstract to the image of these spaces the project reveals.

The scenaries are close to the architectonical space, or the buildings, either the open space.

I assume the views to states as the effective construction of an idea. It was important to communicate the quality of some peculiar spaces, from housing to squares, never forgetting the oniric accent of the imaginary.


What is the effect and purpose of the ‘out of context’ silhouettes? 

As the views are an artefact, an imaginary living space, the only inhabitans, that could have lived in, are figures from the past or from the future. The image of this architecture is set between timeline, it is fixed in a vision, a perpetual image of a space, where people from different times could experience.  The statement of metaphisical space lead to this out of context profiles that live the space, stuck and still in space and in time. They have always been there, and they haven’t at the meantime.



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