8 October 2008

Bland Box #3


Sick Buildings

Kochstraße 27–31 (also Lindenstraße)
Architect: HDS Hans D. Strauch, Associates; Berlin, München

This is a building whose only single æsthetic attribute its is complete lack of any æsthetic attributes. Whilst it is demonstrably possible to build discretely and elegantly with understated structures and repetative motifs, this building is simply a lackluster brute.

Let’s play ‘Hunt the door’

Anthropomorphized, this building is that plainly dressed fellow standing on their own in the corner of a party, who you introduce yourself to out of sympathy. However, after just three minutes it has become perfectly clear that you are conversing with a self-centered, philistine bore that everybody has been studiously avoiding.

The Lindenstraße wing of this complex (shown above) doesn’t want to be engaged with anyway. It has been pushed away from the street to make room for parking spaces and bushes. Doors at ground level are indistinguishable from windows, and rectilinear cavities which resemble industrial loading bays serve as entranceways.

The five-hundred or so narrow windows which comprise the façade speak more of closure than of accessibility. Filled with slatted sun-blinds, they are mere slits; grudgingly hewn concessions to daylight. If the front already looks like the rear, then rear looks like the rear of the rear.

HDS Architects, who admittedly are more used to building post-modern retail horror in the United States (check out their Natick Design Center project), open their website with the following promise:

“We’re more than architects. We’re advocates. For your vision. For ideas you haven’t thought of yet. For dreams you never knew you had. For possibilities you haven’t even imagined.”

Kochstraße 27–31 – once some nebulous dream its contractor didn’t even know it had – was realised with an investment of 180 million Euros. Hurrah.