BERLIN – NEW YORK Dialogues Symposium in New York 2006

Posted on 16. December 2011 by kristienring

Key Note Speech: Saskia Sassen—Sociologist, University of Chicago


Meta Brunzema—Meta Brunzema Architects, New York

Ray Gastil—New York City Department of City Planning

Armand Grüntuch—Grüntuch Ernst Architekten, Berlin

Mathias Heyden—architect, Berlin

Hilmar von Lojewski—Department of Urban Development, Berlin

Gregg Pasquarelli—SHoP Architects, New York

Kristien Ring—The German Center for Architecture, Berlin

Jesse Shapins—Yellow Arrow/Counts Media, New York

Moderators: Saskia Sassen—Sociologist, University of Chicago; Ron Shiffman—Urban planner and educator, New York. Opening remarks: Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth—Consul General of Germany; Peter Zlonicky—Architect/planner, Munich.

At the Center for Architecture, NEW YORK, 02.18.06

The concept of terrain vague, as described by sociologist Saskia Sassen, exists in neglected space leftover in a “global network city.” Potential uses for these sites—which include city waterfronts, urban edge conditions, and infill sites—can be overwhelming, complicated by disparate groups jockeying to exploit fragmented urban areas. Terrain vague sites require both formal and informal strategies.

New York and Berlin face the destructive effects of “urban planning dogmas,” struggle with shifting economic bases, and incur the scars of war or terrorism. City planners, including Hilmar von Lojewski and Ray Gastil, are wary of negative implications of terrain vague, as it is difficult to control in an unregulated form. Critical reconstruction includes historical considerations and the interests of the community, according to von Lojewski, but in order to foster a “new generation seeking a new iconography” solutions must exceed historical outlines. Gregg Pasquarelli seeks to transcend image-based projects with “performative” architecture. Armand Grüntuch wants to reinvent the city on a small scale by layering Berlin’s urban fabric over tight building envelopes.

Reacting against what they consider a “postmodern and cynical” planning culture, architects Meta Brunzema and Matheus Heyden advocate “direct actions.” Dismayed over economically based initiatives that drown out creative informality, Heyden uses urban “squats” for performance art protests and Brunzema galvanizes community groups to transform their surroundings. Kristien Ring and Jesse Shapins humorously attempt to “influence the cultural landscape” with interventions such as Raumlabour’s crystalline structure atop the Berliner Palace, and Yellow Square’s media-based attempts to mesh together image, digital networks, and urban space.

The wide range of specialties highlighted by the panelists at the New York-Berlin symposium provided a platform for comparing cities and learning from each other.

Text by Scott Jardine, Architect and Writer

Organisatoren: Center for Architecture / American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and Deutsches Architektur Zentrum DAZ

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