25 July 2012

Berlin Model City


Holes ∕ Orion Nebula

a dental lab’s rendition of the Stadtkrone

A propped up facade fragment of the Stadtschloss project as a synecdochial caricature of its own preposterousness. Its placement is all wrong, heightening the feeling of disjuncture, grotesquely contorting insides out. A cavity ridden, molar shaped, info box waiting for its eventual extraction (Berlin’s true Stadtkrone more of the Kassenpatient dental kind, a tacky cap in the city’s pearly whites, not what Taut had in mind). The UV bleached tarpaulin of patched together Bauakademie flapping in the wind.

royal prussian academy of tarpaulin construction

How to stich or bundle this mess together? Today, Berlin looks like an artist’s studio to me. Half-finished bits of half-assed projects dotted around makeshift landscapes of tables, floors, boxes, any available horizontal surfaces on trestles – with more mundane objects scattered in between: rolls of tape, spray cans, unopened envelopes, empty beer bottles, cigarette butts. Groups of scaled model tourists scattered across stretches of gessoed sidewalk (more blotched out bike path, to be precise). What will come of all these project bits and pieces, in dumpsters, salvages or archives?

I am reminded of the shelves of architecture studios, stacked with disparate project models from disjunct contexts. The facade study of a Castop-Rauxel addition, a discount mart’s massing in Astana or Wisconsin, a Suprematist student project on phenomenal transparency. I get a sense of standing in one of these manipulated photographs with extremely low depth of field that make reality look like model photography.

a discount mart in Astana

Orange cylinders filled with concrete – tubes of superglue or caulking, tackey of some sort holding it all together. The statues of Engelsbrücke – 1:100 scaled people in a 1:200 model, waiting to be painted; heaps of sprinkle about to be applied to light-blue polystyrene surfaces, or forgotten. Serendipity as a form of urbanism, urbanism of the adhoc, of fluke – flurbanism – assemblaging random instances into a coherent absence of substance.

lacklustre surface sprinkling going on

I had never noticed those locks on the bridge’s ballustrade, tribal customs introduced by nomad couples. They do that sort of thing in other popular centers, in Paris and maybe in Venice, too, places with enough substance to not feel as hollowed out by tourism and flurbanism.

tourist practices of vandalism