DAY 3: Berlin, Germany

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The distinct architecture:

Besides a clear distinction of modernist architecture as post-war, the pre-war buildings break down even further in their distinctions. Today, being the first day of class for my semester in Berlin, was a dumping of information by our Professors. Assigned is a library for the district of Mitte, or the center of Berlin. Existing at the site is one branch of the Fanny Hensel Musikschule, which before WWII was a high school building called “Kollnisches Gymnasium” in the Neo Classical Style and three times its current size.

My studio Professor, Joachim, told the group that the exterior material of a post war building ascertained its stand on privacy. Brick buildings were public buildings, while buildings with a stucco exterior were private, typically residential, buildings. The adjacent photo is from a fourth floor window of a piano performance room in the Musikschule. I wanted to focus on this photo because not only does it describe the brick that deems the Musikschule as open to the community, but the glass was a double pane system that looked original to the building. I was also struck by the golden light that illuminated a tree in what is our building project site, considering I keep hearing how rare sunshine is in Berlin.

Stucco doesn’t seem like a building material that would be common in the Northern climate of Germany; I think of it as adobe in New Mexico for example. Professor Rolf explained that with the invention of the steam engine and factories, much of Berlin’s residences came from mass produced stucco pieces. This use of pre-fab materials also explains the repetition and exact window sizes on many pre-war apartments.

With this distinction of materials, the envelope of my library and Musikschule addition will have to communicate with the historic while also relating to the pre-fabricated social housing projects in the neighborhood. And so it begins.

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