HAUS DER KUNST: Built Ideology

REM KOOLHAAS and JACQUES HERZOG are intelligent architects. That’s all you need to know. They are collaborating as kind of a think tank to think about this remarkable building, the HAUS DER KUNST, which is not an easy building to think in. It is a building that in a certain way was designed to stop people from thinking. So this think tank has to work against a building’s capacity to stop people from thinking. It’s a difficult project and very, very interesting.

Maurizio Cattelan, HIM, 2001

Maurizio Cattelan, HIM, 2001

It would seem that the “heavy lifting” in the discussion of the Haus der Kunst so far has revolved around the big question of ideology and the built environment – not in the more technical, more aesthetic, more philosophical question of the building’s preservation. I think it should be the other way round. Preservation is the bigger question; ideology is just a very small subset of the general question of preservation. After all, the Third Reich was a preservation concept. More precisely, it was an argument for the preservation of homeland as the preservation of race. The whole principle was to destroy in order to conserve: destruction as conservation. In fact it could be argued that the most extreme violence is almost always carried out in the name of preservation – specifically, in the name of “cleaning.” And if you know anything about preservation: preservation is nothing other than an act of cleaning, of dirt removal. Architecture can be the dirt, so preservation can be removing pieces of architecture. But architecture can also represent the absence of dirt. It can be the cleaning act itself. The Haus der Kunst has exactly those two qualities: architecture as a form of dirt that needs to be cleaned away, but also as the absence of such dirt.

The key here is that preservation is a radically enigmatic proposition. To preserve an object is precisely to change it, to take it out of time. It’s a brutal thing to take an object out of time. In fact you could argue that the most radical thing you can do to an object is to preserve it. It’s the most extreme gesture you can make towards an object – which makes it no surprise that the most interesting, the most radical, the most experimental architects very quickly find themselves at the question of preservation. And they find themselves fascinated by it, because they are of course fascinated by the possibility of doing the most radical thing that you could do to an object. In the case of the Haus der Kunst, preservation is not just an option. The question is: what particular kind of preservation? Which concept and technique of preservation? There is never just one particular technique of preservation; there is always a dialogue between different techniques. But which dialogue, which dilemma about preservation to activate? The Haus der Kunst is occupying a temporary building. It’s made of stone but it cannot survive for 100 years. It will fall apart. So the decision has to be made as to whether to allow the building to live – to live would be to let it fall down, to die, to have a life and the only sign of having had a life is to die – or to stop it from dying, to not allow it to have a life, to preserve it and to turn it into a kind of a painting, a kind of image. This is an exciting and difficult moment in the discussion of this think tank. If there has been a cleaning process with the Haus der Kunst, it has been held in two stages: 2003–2007 was the first phase, which involved removing those elements of the building, those dirty elements, whose function it was to hide the original building. So those white elements added after the war were in fact the dirt that had to be removed in order to expose the original building. But now is the second phase, and that’s when you have to add some dirt. You have to add something to the building. The real preservation moment begins when you add something; it’s through addition that preservation exerts its force. So this is a very complex moment, because with the Haus der Kunst, both to restore it and to add things to it are considered unthinkable, impossible, unreasonable – even unethical – so whatever decision is made at this point will be seen by many people as unthinkable, unspeakable, unethical. The question then is: which kind of crime do you want to commit?

The purpose of the Koolhaas/ Herzog think tank is to make a decision about which kind of criminal their client should be. They are tempting to redesign Chris Dercon into a particular kind of criminal. They have yet to decide what to charge him with, what crime he will commit in order to be charged by others. To do such a thing requires the best minds possible, and the two best minds are indeed at work on this. What follows tonight is yet another discussion between these minds about the current issues at stake and what might possibly happen in the future. Perhaps even the ghost of the building that preceded this one needs to be made part of this preservation effort – that is to say, the ghost of the original Glass Palace, which was also a temporary building: it had been installed on a different site at the Botanical Garden in 1853/54 and was meant to be used for a single exhibition of industry and art and then turned into a green house. The exhibition was so successful that from 1858 on it became the site for an annual exhibition of German art. That building was destroyed in 1931, which means that it lasted for 77 years. In seven years’ time, the Haus der Kunst will have reached the same age. There was a competition to replace the original glass building, and Paul Troost – whose expertise at the time was that he was very good at doing interior design for luxury liners – came up with a project that was very similar to today’s Haus der Kunst. Hitler took over in 1933, changed the site from the Botanical Garden to the English Garden and hired Troost. Throughout its life and during the War, the building became known as the new Glass Palace: a stone building acting as a glass building. And what was this building, of course? The first major building of the Reich. That is to say, a building literally intended to be the center of the world, a building with a shelter installed in its basement as part of some uncanny understanding of the violent consequences of the architectural act.

By JACQUES HERZOG

The history of the Haus der Kunst, whose architectural transformation we have studied in collaboration with OMA over the past few months, perfectly illustrates the way in which architecture is explicitly exploited to express a political ideology – in this case, the ideology of the Nazis. After the collapse of that ideology in 1945, the architectural modifications, instituted step-by-step, embodied a fuzzy blend of fear and suppression that led to concealing and, in part, demolishing those elements of the building that seemed most conspicuously Nazi-like. These changes mirrored the unwillingness to even mention, let alone think about or widely discuss the nature of a building that so clearly belied the emerging ideology of modernism, and yet continued to be used as a museum and a social meeting point, actually serving the same purpose as before. But what can be done when a building has such severe technical shortcomings that renovation becomes imperative? Every monument has the right to be respected if one chooses to preserve it. Its original ideas and objectives must be examined in order to review with great care whether and how they should be revamped. Although the original idea behind the building overtly expressed a criminal ideology and was abused to that end by the rulers of that ideology, the building as such is not guilty, dangerous or even criminal. Architecture is never guilty and rarely dangerous. Nonetheless, it can be appropriated by ideologies and remain branded by them for generations. It is then feared and revered, hated and admired at once.

*> Taken from a quote by Stefano Boeri Poster, M/M (Paris)

*<>
Taken from a quote by Stefano Boeri
Poster, M/M (Paris)

This can turn a city’s architecture into the “punctum” Roland Barthes describes in connection with photography: the punctum of a picture captures the viewer’s attention and has an impenetrable impact; it may be a disturbing or erotic impact, it may attract or repel us, but it always makes the picture interesting and specific, distinguishing it from all others. The architecture of a city can function as a punctum, as a place where architecture refers to something that cannot be extinguished or erased: a place that is not only a monumental reminder of a grim past, as here in the Haus der Kunst, but also a place that encourages introspection, making us more acutely and explicitly aware of how we think and act. The HdK demonstrates how we have spent decades obscuring, amputating and destroying the original architecture without embedding these actions in a specific, substantial context. The structural changes consistently pursued the objective of diluting and defusing the Nazi spirit of the building, of subverting what the building once signified by de-clawing it, so to speak. This reveals the extent to which the building evoked fear and even a sense of the uncanny, as if it were an uncanny spirit that could resurrect the evil of a supposedly defeated ideology. Yet the building instilled not only fear but awe as well – as if it were a wild, savage animal that had to be tamed but not killed. Munich rejected attempts and proposals to implode the building to make room for a new modern and contemporary art venue. Munich liked the building because it evidently embodied a specific aspect of the city and because it had done so well as a space for all kinds of art. So which building does Munich want? Troost’s radical building or today’s whitewashed building? Under artistic director Chris Dercon, parts of the structure have already been renovated in the sense of a socalled “critical reconstruction,” in other words, reconstruction that respects the architectural intentions of Troost’s original building. But now, before tackling major renovations, a clear attitude is essential; a critical reconstruction that increases the visibility of Troost’s building will make the building, the institution, and the city of Munich vulnerable to criticism and will require great self-confidence: Munich reconstructs a Nazi monument. Does Munich want to do that? Can Munich do that?

Troost’s building had urban qualities that are now hidden and that would make the location more incisive. Hardly any other building in Germany could be more suitable as a space for art. It is here that the building’s potential lies, and one cannot help asking whether its suitability as a place that houses art should not be fostered, especially since the theater is moving out of the west wing and half of that space has become available. Using this half for financial purposes may seem to make economic sense, especially since the Nazis and, after the War, the Americans, used the premises for beer halls, car sales rooms and a variety of events. These considerations regarding the specific city and the significance of the punctum in this city show that consolidating the Haus der Kunst by extending the art space promises greater returns than expanding the commercial and culinary uses of the premises. The Haus der Kunst, as a place of art, would undoubtedly have the quality of a punctum.

… I recently changed my course at Harvard from Project on the City, to a project investigating preservation. What we try to do is understand what preservation is and how it relates to contemporary architecture.

So, of course, if you’re trying to understand something you don’t know, you look to its beginning. What we discovered was that there were two initial laws: the first, two years after the French revolution, and the second at the height of the Industrial Revolution in England. These were the first representations of a legal definition and a legal space to preserve buildings. In a certain way it is not surprising that preservation is related to revolution, because in a revolution you have to decide what to destroy and what to keep. What was more interesting to us was to look at the context in terms of contemporary inventions. We discovered that, by coincidence or not, these two laws of preservation coincided exactly with the beginning of a ground swell of modernity and of modern inventions – the Morse code, the railroad, cement, and everything else that represents the solid beginning of the process of modernization that we are still involved in. So this was really a first insight into the possibility of reading preservation as part and parcel of modernization itself, the two processes being different sides of a single coin. We then looked at the history of what was being preserved and saw that in the beginning it was monuments and religious buildings – beautiful things. Since then, however, an ironic situation has developed, in which literally every typology known to man is being preserved: from the office building to the concentration camp to the amusement ride.

We then turned to how, in time, the interval between the date of preservation and the date of construction (of the to-be-preserved object) has evolved. This led to our most astonishing discovery: that the first law of preservation stipulated an interval of about 2000 years, but that only a century later it was a 200 year interval, and then sometime in the 1960s people began to preserve things that were merely 40 or 50 years old – the Haus der Kunst is an obvious example of this. What these intervals clearly indicate is that the decision to preserve has become more and more immediate, and that we are at a very interesting moment in which the decision to preserve now coincides with the present. You could then theorize about a future, in which preservation will no longer be a retroactive concept, but a prospective one – we will have to decide in advance what the duration of our buildings will be. (Given the flimsiness of contemporary construction, this might not be an entirely theoretical condition).

Anish Kapoor, Svayambh, 2007

Anish Kapoor, Svayambh, 2007

Preservation also has an extensive infrastructure, far bigger and far better organized than architecture’s – with more organizations, larger bureaucracies, more coherence, more global pressure and more global agreement. Architecture is pathetic medieval survival compared to the power of preservation. Even relatively early investigations revealed the astonishing scale of this phenomenon — a scale much larger than that of new construction – and a political power that could have the potential to merge preservation and construction into a single operation.

I use this as an introduction to our work here, as the key question that has been driving the inquiry is whether there might be ways through which architecture might deploy preservation in order to overcome some of its current, less than favorable aspects. Or in other words, whether authenticity might not be deployed against the unpleasant aspects of contemporary architecture.

In these terms, the Haus der Kunst is a particular case. It is recent (only 70 years old), and was built specifically for the Nazis. It is to some extent an aura machine, but what is not very well understood is that in every other sense, it is a contemporary building, a modern building, with all the fragility that definition implies. A modern building whose aura is simply manipulation and not substance.

So it’s a complex effort in the sense that the building is more contemporary than one realizes, and furthermore the apparent distance that we have from the period is not so easy to assert — and is usually much smaller than perceived. I think this is becoming more and more apparent under the curatorial direction of Chris Dercon. It seems that by liberating parts of the building in their original forms and organizing very large displays of contemporary art within them, the building undergoes a strange association, where instead of contrasting with the works – which is what you would expect of an aura machine created for the Nazis – it works perfectly with the more monumental aspects of contemporary art. It seems that the unspoken attraction of the Haus der Kunst is actually the frisson of Nazism that gives a kind of thrill to the display of art. And if you see the Haus der Kunst, in its liberated form, working perfectly with recent exhibitions of Gilbert & George or Andreas Gursky, you realize that there is this mutual complicity, an unspoken manifesto that we perhaps have to address.

Panelists, from left to right: Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley and Jacques Herzog

Panelists, from left to right: Rem Koolhaas, Mark Wigley and Jacques Herzog

MARK WIGLEY: If contemporary art works so well here, that raises questions about the way it works elsewhere: if it’s very at home in a Nazi aura-making machine then it raises the question of what kind of aura-making machines it’s operating in elsewhere. But Jacques, do you accept the last claim, that contemporary art perhaps fits too well in this building?

REM KOOLHAAS: I’m not saying it fits too well, I’m saying it gets an unacknowledged boost from the architecture.

JACQUES HERZOG: It goes well with all art. I have seen other shows here with surprisingly intimate formats given the huge scale, but it also goes very well with media art. And because it works so well for art, it should have more art in more spaces – i.e. also in the west wing when it will be available in the future. The “frisson” and the “aura” that you mention is an important part of the building and we can all admit that when you enter it, the idea that it was a Nazi building is always with us. It makes the building somehow different and I’m sure that many artists who have done exhibitions here have somehow had this in the back of their minds. But this is not why we believe that the building should be mainly used for art. The boost from architecture comes from the spatial quality, not from the pastiche of history. Once you are in a show, it is the art that works well and entertains you, not the building.

REM KOOLHAAS: Chris Dercon, a key figure in the triangle of our collaboration, is convinced that in order to maintain the Haus der Kunst as a Kunsthalle, with its independence and its self-supporting qualities, it is perhaps a good idea to use the newly liberated wing for commercial purposes – so the building would not be used as an aura-making machine, but as a money-making machine. Jacques, however, is deeply convinced that it should be dedicated to art. My position is not yet on one side nor the other, but the question that really worries me regarding programming purely for art is whether the full earnestness of so much contemporary art, combined with the full earnestness of the building – newly doubled with the addition of the west wing – would actually produce serious results, or whether it would become a pastiche of earnestness by way of the building’s authoritarianism.

JACQUES HERZOG: This tomb-like installation of art would indeed be a bit sinister! There are quite a few alternatives to that though … there are growing numbers of artists from all parts of the world including China and South America who have been dramatically pushing the limits of what an “art installation” can be. The HdK can offer a platform for longer-term installations in addition to its Kunsthalle type of daily business. Our point is simply that art and more art at the HdK is more interesting and more radical than any other thing.

MARK WIGLEY: But if I understand you correctly, right now you are testing the possibility of art defining the second wing, Chris is testing the possibility of commerce defining the second wing, and Rem says he’s trying to do neither. And of course, it will be hard for the audience to understand the difference between art and commerce today. It brings up the question of symmetry on a couple of levels: by allowing Chris to take the second position and you the third, you are trying to resist the symmetry between Jacques and Rem, but there is also the symmetry of the building. I was wondering if you see the symmetry of this building in your investigations as useful in terms of thinking intelligently about both art and preservation, or is it a problem? At first glance it seems incredibly useful. Almost too useful.

REM KOOLHAAS: Almost too easy! I think one of the crucial things to understand is that, again speaking for myself, we are caught within a very interesting dilemma. I think Chris knows that since Jacques and I have a longstanding and interesting working relationship – we have collaborated before, but none of our collaborations has ever really been successful – he was offering us a real opportunity! For that reason we accepted it – even though deep down each of us thought that perhaps two architects for a simple preservation effort was a bit much and was also perhaps burdening the effort with an overdose of consideration and intelligence. Indeed, we were all too refined to use the symmetry of the building as an obvious art form or model for the outcome.

MARK WIGLEY: As a friend of both of yours he may take pleasure in the possibility that you’ll fail. A special pleasure, having created it, this possibility … I want to test a little theory that I’ve mentioned before. If the architect is a public intellectual, which I think is the role of the architect today, and if in fact the most intelligent gestures of an architect have to do with the question of preservation, which I also believe to be the case, there is no single preservation tactic that produces the beauty or intelligence of any system – what makes it work is competing alternative preservation theories. And it seems to me that one of the potentials of this overdose of intelligence is to actually incubate strong but contrary – say, syncopated rather than oppositional – approaches. A sort of syncopated rhythm between different preservation strategies, each preservation strategy exposing another. To take an obvious example, wouldn’t you say that the nightclub here is a historical monument?

“Architects never smile, right?”

REM KOOLHAAS: Yes.

MARK WIGLEY: So it would be a crime to destroy it – either in the name of art or in the name of commerce.

REM KOOLHAAS: I think that the paradoxical effect of having to operate in this kind of discussion framework about “ideology” is that we take the Nazi aspect much more seriously than we need to, or perhaps should. In fact, I’ve rarely had such a strong instinct to do something so deeply ignorant. The nightclub is a fantastic example of an ignorant and energetic intervention, and is therefore also interesting to look to as a prototype. It’s in this type of context that I thought and think some degree of self-supporting activity can actually be a really constructive element. And it can also help demystify all of the earnestness that, without really wanting to, we are supporting.

JACQUES HERZOG: It seems like a problem that the building is – as we all agree here – ideal for art. It’s almost “too useful” as you both put it. But where is the problem, actually? We cannot really be afraid of being too earnest when bringing more art here in the future. More art doesn’t mean more earnestness but ideally more complexity and more quality, more reason to come here as opposed to other places, and to other cities. Munich needs a great place for art more than any kind of entertainment, bars, discos, or restaurants, which it already has plenty of.

MARK WIGLEY: Architects never smile, right? So the architect is a sort of earnest figure. And you are surely one of the most earnest of all, but you are managing to create the theory that perhaps the greatest enemy here would be earnestness. I could help that argument a bit: for example, surely the nightclub was a sort of efficient stage set – it wasn’t by accident that the architect was good at ocean liners and interior decoration and furniture and so on, and it isn’t by chance that the whole thing could absolutely be undone by a single curtain. But let’s discuss what kind of theatricality was produced in this space: the “Entartete Kunst” exhibition in 1937. Precisely by denouncing modern art as degenerate, modern art was given the most serious credentials it ever got. It became the most earnest thing you could imagine, because it started to represent the opposite. It became virtuous beyond belief. So even works of so-called modern art, produced by the least earnest gestures, namely Dada – work that was by its very nature as un-earnest as possible, that refused to take any institution seriously, including the human body – was made earnest by the sheer theatricality of the place. You could argue that it would be interesting to do something with the west wing that takes this earnestness away – I’m just accepting your position, Rem – but it would be quite hard to do so. Again to take the most unsettling example possible, it would seem that one way to face the swastika would simply be to remove half of it, leaving half the swastika permanently visible to anybody who has half an interest in the figure, but also demonstrating how small that figure was, how pathetic. So perhaps if one wing of the building were to be earnestly restored, the other could house a whole series of not so earnest, playful gestures. But it sounds like you’re leaning more towards the commercial side. At the beginning, Jacques said he was for art, Chris said he was for commerce, and you said you were in this thoughtful position. Now it sounds like you’re more on the commerce side.

REM KOOLHAAS: It is not really about being on a side … in fact, this is the moment to add that though this whole construction is unbelievably interesting, it also puts too much of a burden on the two of us. I mean this in the sense that typically there is a commission, and that commission is defined in terms of its aim. In this case, it is an aim that we are simply structurally unable, or in my case, unwilling to provide. That is why we are very happy that Chris has a vision, because that vision is the aim.

TV transmission to the HdK’s Golden Bar

TV transmission to the HdK’s Golden Bar

JACQUES HERZOG: Let’s leave that discussion about commercial versus not commercial aside for a while and talk about preservation as a contemporary architectural and urbanistic strategy. Rem presented a timeline in which the time lapse between production and preservation of architecture has become narrower and narrower until finally the past, present, and future coincide. This comes close to the idea of simulation that I mentioned in the context of the reconstruction strategies of Munich after the War. Paradoxically, Munich’s more conventional strategy to reinvent itself through simulation has turned out to be more successful than the tabula rasa strategy applied by more progressive planners in Frankfurt. After the War, modernist intellectuals used tabula rasa as the only possible, uncompromised urbanistic strategy. Their architectural vocabulary was bound to a codex of morality that excluded the use, simulation, or amalgamation of historical buildings and forms. Today we are interested and even fascinated by problems such as the reconstruction of the Schloss in Berlin, because we have discovered there a kind of critical energy that we want to unleash. Cities have energetic places or poles comparable to acupuncture poles of the human body – which can be stimulated and activated. But other urbanistic tools are needed than the ones that modernism developed right after the War. Simulation and reconstruction can be such tools – and the HdK is potentially one of the energetic poles of this city.

MARK WIGLEY: But in both points that you’re making, the tendency would be towards taking morality out of the equation. There is no longer a kind of unambiguous quasi-ethical statement that historical reconstruction is bad, especially if it’s of anything decorative, because that’s secretly behind the idea that you could theoretically restore anything as a modern architect as long as it was not decorated. And if it’s decorated, then you are in some cases restoring the enemy, and that’s morally unacceptable. So both the idea of not being earnest and that of not being so morally charged work together, which would mean your combined intelligences would work against the kind of moral imperative of the architect. And if the issue is no longer moral, then it becomes legal. You showed a very beautiful international map of the extent to which the extraordinary infrastructure of preservation reveals how medieval our discipline is. The reason why it’s so amazingly efficient internationally is because it’s in the law. It has the power of law. And if architects are children – and architects always remain children – thinking that they can change the built environment and therefore change images of society, they’re wrong. The people who actually do that are lawyers. Lawyers have the power of our cities. But if preservation is a legal question, then you could approach things like the steps and the underpass in front of the HdK on legal grounds. You could argue about whose territory it is – the city’s or the building’s? – and so on. Couldn’t you easily reconstruct the front steps of this building? Isn’t there absolutely no technical problem with reconstructing the steps? It would just force people on the sidewalk to go up and down.

JACQUES HERZOG: By leaving the sidewalk as it is and bringing the stair back to its original size you would merge two opposed historical moments of the city into each other – the result would be a new urban space; the building would “ask for more attention” without the attitude of grandeur that the Nazis had in mind. This kind of subtle intervention could be interesting and also new, but perhaps not reason enough to hire two architectural firms such as OMA and Herzog & de Meuron.

MARK WIGLEY: Maybe we could produce a formula: the more an architect feels he has to be earnest, the more stupid the work. The difficult question is how to break into an efficient incubator for nurturing earnestness, and this is why you have been invited to the Haus der Kunst – it’s like a laboratory test for architects. In fact, you might be the first two guinea pigs out of 200 architects who will be called in to see if they can make an interesting observation about what should happen with the preservation. And as long as the position is earnest, following Rem’s original argument, it’s doomed to fail – because it’s then doomed to have the work prejudged on moral grounds, when there cannot be a singular moral position. So the question is how to replace the simplification of morality with law and with intelligence, but also with art. It’s not so much a question of, “Do you put art over in that space?” But rather, “In what way can the preservation of that space itself be a work of art as a work of intelligence?” One strategy would be to make a space for art on that side that actually doesn’t produce a frisson, and doesn’t give a boost to the work – something that actually makes contemporary work look stupid. If, for example, you design a museum whose primary purpose was to make the work of successful contemporary artists look stupid, I think you would have done a wonderful service for architects …

REM KOOLHAAS: … and for mankind! There is another interesting scenario, which is to use the empty part of the museum as a repository for the collections of the future abandoned private museums of current private collectors. A kind of preventive preservation anticipating the tragic situation wherein the children of collectors at some point stop sharing the same respect and affinity for the works as their parents, and either want to sell or no longer maintain the very expensive spaces. But I think this scenario and the commercial one have a certain freshness and topicality that perhaps reveals a fundamental difference between Jacques and myself – our degree of skepticism towards the energy and intelligence of art at this moment.

MARK WIGLEY: At a moment in time in which art becomes more and more beautiful to rich people as it becomes more and more expensive, such that an art object can become more beautiful overnight. You are talking about a strategy that tries to look at the endgame of that. It would be a case of preemptive and preventive preservation; you would be setting up a preservation strategy for the ruins of the art market, essentially.

REM KOOLHAAS: Could be, yes.

MARK WIGLEY: I think there was a time in which architects, to speak in nostalgic terms, were able to make the work of artists look partial. And we have lost that ability primarily through giving away a lot of trade secrets. So many artists operate as architects today. And both of you have helped artists by making extraordinary spaces for them. Are you not tempted to make their work seem partial again? Your resistance to the Dia concept as a kind of religious space could lead to something else. It could be a space in which it’s extraordinarily difficult for art to look … anything other than safe and timid.

JACQUES HERZOG: I think that contemporary art can deal with any kind of space. It adapts well to any given space when it is installation art. Artists have learned to live with difficult conditions. They often worsen them or create their own environments – think of artists such as Gregor Schneider, Christoph Büchel, or Ilya Kabakov, already in his eighties. Under these circumstances the renovation of the HdK should offer more space – similar in quality to the east wing. That space would then be interpreted and reinterpreted by the artists much more than by the architects. I don’t have a problem with that. We see the HdK more like an object of architectural thinking than of heavy architectural intervention. For once we will be absent rather than present …

REM KOOLHAAS: One thing that I am a bit critical of is your proposed west wing alternatives. Limiting it to bars and restaurants is a bit too facile. It’s not necessarily the dimension that we have to think about when we discuss an institution or a space that accommodates a number of contemporary urgencies. It can deliver an environment that can create both very smooth and, if need be, very technical conditions that can respond to real social needs – even if it’s not a working class social need, but perhaps a middle class social need. The unique thing about Munich is that it’s much more original than it seems, and much more ambitious than it seems, and the more I come here the more I realize that there is a very high caliber perfectionism operating – one very well disguised as comfort and conservatism. Perhaps it is possible to extract from this something that has legitimate, real energy and real potential to generate income, and therefore ensure the survival of a very radical institution … rather than wringing our hands over what to do with a Nazi building.


Architecture 36Features 103Haus der Kunst 1Interview 101
Jacques Herzog
Museum 1Politics 23

Published in

Issue #15 — Summer 2008Haus der Kunst

“A museum should really be about memory systems—the storage of memory.” In our 40-page cover story on Munich’s HAUS DER KUNST, REM KOOLHAAS, JACQUES HERZOG, HANS ULRICH OBRIST, and MARK WIGLEY consider the museum’s history from Nazi temple to art laboratory.

Meanwhile, LAM magazine transforms Moscow youth culture; art director RICHARD PANDISCIO and Marc Jacobs’s ROBERT DUFFY school us in luxury marketing; photographer COLLIER SCHORR tells THOMAS DEMAND how she made Germany hers; curator OKWUI ENWEZOR explains how there are no innocents in modernism;

architect GREG LYNN curves his enthusiasm; writer JONATHAN FISCHER goes inside African pop music to find the sweet jingle of desperation; MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA celebrates its 20th; filmmaker DAVID LYNCH and the invincible Raja confuse Germany;

the BERLIN REVIEW reflects on ten events, projects, and people from the past six months in Berlin; and so much more on 268 pages …

Contributors: Jens Balzer, Jodie Barnes, Shumon Basar, Florian Böhm, Carmen Böker, Carson Chan, Tabassom Charaf, Todd Cole, Nick Currie, Thomas Demand, Chris Dercon, Todd Eberle, Jonathan Fischer, Marc Fischer, Jacques Herzog, Benjamin Alexander Huseby, item idem, Katerina Jebb, Sonja Junkers, Heinz Peter Knes, Rem Koolhaas, Alison Lee, Holger Liebs, Pierre Alexandre de Looz, Niklas Maak, Ari Marcopoulos, Maison Martin Margiela, Sebastian Mayer, Markus Miessen, Kito Nedo, Alex Needham, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Wilfried Petzi, Sebastian Preuss, Jason Schmidt, Collier Schorr, Christoph Seeberger, Payam Sharifi, Heji Shin, Sally Singer, Guy Tillim, Marion Vogel, Mark Wigley, Philippe and Césarie Yard.