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Building within the Built

Editorial: Building within the Built
This issue, no. 21 of FAMagazine, supplements and provides theoretical information on a study day entitled “Economy of the Urban Form” which the Festival of Architecture 7 organized on Thursday 22 November 2012 in Modena. In the course of the day, the stage of the Teatro Fondazione San Carlo was home to two appointments on the theme of “Building on the Built”: in the morning lecturers, architects and sociologists from the Universities of Parma and Bologna discussed urban regeneration in general and in particular the case of the Villaggio Artigiano ‒ Craftsman’s Village ‒ in Modena; in the afternoon we listened to Johannes Modersohn from the Technische Universität of Kaiserlautern and co-owner of the studio Modersohn & Freiesleben of Berlin, Petra Kahlfeldt from the Beuth Hochschule Berlin and member of the committee that organizes the Dom Römer-Project contest in the old town of Frankfurt, and Wulf Daseking, champion of the Freiburg - Green City in his many years as head of the city’s town-planning service, all part of the seminar entitled Bauen im Bestand: Italy/Germany (
The presence of Daseking momentarily recalls the theme of “Building on the Built” ‒ Bauen im Bestand within the more general question of urban design and reminds us how any intervention on the city, whether a consolidated historical city or today’s cities that extend and expand well beyond the limits of the historical suburbs, cannot help but make reference to the entire urban body, its totality as a work. As Lederer said in his article: Prima la Città, poi la Casa (First the city then the House).
“Building on the Built”, which the Germans call Bauen im Bestand, as well as being the theme of a lively and well-attended debate (BKULT.DE Was meinen Sie? Debatten zur Baukultur,, in certain German universities is also the name of a course: Bauen im Bestand is a discipline that has become familiar in the training of many German architects from the’80s onwards as a reaction to the change in paradigm urged in 1975 by the European Years to Defend Architectural Heritage, which meant abandoning the customs of occupying new land and constructing large settlements in green belts.
Bauen im Bestand is the slogan for a fairly new course of studies at the university of Wismar, offering a six-month professionalizing master that began in the winter semester of 2010/2011.
Unlike previous syllabuses on “the extant” or “the built” there is no question of focussing on the relationship with the historical monumental patrimony, which, in the profession of architect will play an increasing marginal role – according to the University of Wismar, but much more on redevelopment, changes in final use and enlargement on the already built, which in the future are going to play an increasingly important role. (1)
The contest called Dom Römer–Project represented an interweaving and in some ways a transitional phase between the more recent concept of Bauen im Bestand and its preceding one: i.e. the debate on the reconstruction of historical centres, when it was necessary to identify the most apposite procedures to plug empty spaces in the urban fabric produced by the bombardments and conflagrations of the Second World War. Between 2004 and 2012, when the first stone was laid, the Innenstadt area of Frankfurt between the Cathedral and Kunstverein, Braubachstrsse and the Archaeology Park, was the object of the most conspicuous case of Bauen im Bestand. The demolition of the grand complex of the city’s technical offices, in rough washed cement, built in the early seventies in a breach left by the bombardments of the war and that required heavy structural redevelopment, was an occasion to reinvent the centre of Frankfurt and redesign the relationship between “old” and “new”, “building” and “built” on an area measuring 7,000 square metres. After a long and eventful political and administrative iter, the building was knocked down in 2010 and that same year over 170 architects crossed swords over the reconstruction of the Gothic lots, which a Masterplan had redesigned on their original site. The competition resulted in 54 winning projects including that of the young Johannes Götz and Guido Lohmann, featured in a handsome volume published by Aion and edited by Massimo Fagioli, New Tendencies in Architecture.
Thus a theme born on the basis of an impelling necessity became progressively more concrete and was enriched by a well-defined and prearranged theoretical and epistemic apparatus that is partially recounted in this 21st edition of FAMagazine. Beyond the clear-cut examples represented by the fine projects of Modersohn & Freiesleben in Berlin and Arno Lederer’s building in the Karlsruhe market square, to me it seems interesting to summarize some constants that appear with different shadings in the writings of our German guests, and that appear fairly indicative of the high, and in some ways enviable, level of arrangement and agreement reached in that country’s architectural culture, or at least by a stalwart group of architects and friends.
Three positions may be recapped: philological reconstruction; tabula rasa, or, representing the other pole of the self-same attitude, discontinuity by contrast between the new and the extant; and a third position, more difficult to sum up, which Andreas Hild calls evocatively weiterschreiben (continuing to write), which Antje Freiesleben transforms in weitererzählen (continuing to recount) and of which Lederer has this to say: “We add the missing building in such a way that the common person does not notice the intervention. On a second, closer look, the addition might be seen. In all probability, an expert would be interested in our work, because his eye would be able to appreciate it.
Certainly, Hild’s projects allow the gleaning of a less mimetic acceptance of Lederer, but in both cases, as it is and must always be in architecture, the appropriateness of the intervention is based on a refinement of the ways the text is analysed as well as the linguistic interpretation.
1. „Bauen im Bestand “ist eine Disziplin, die etwa seit den achtziger Jahren in der Architektenausbildung heimisch wurde – als Reaktion auf den Paradigmenwechsel, der mit dem Europäischen Denkmalschutzjahr 1975 einsetzte und die Abkehr von Flächenabriss und Großsiedlungsbau auf der Grünen Wiese bedeutete. „Bauen mit Bestand“ – in dieser leichten Abwandlung taugt der Slogan nun für einen neuen Aufbaustudiengang, den die Hochschule Wismar ab Wintersemester 2010/11 als sechssemestriges, berufsbegleitendes Fernstudium anbietet.
Im Unterschied zu bisherigen Studienangeboten „im Bestand“ soll hier nicht in erster Linie der Umgang mit historisch wertvoller Substanz gelehrt werden, denn dies sei „eine Aufgabe, die in der Berufswelt der Architekten einen verschwindend geringen Umfang hat“, so die Hochschule Wismar. Vielmehr geht es um „Sanierung, Umbau und Erweiterung von Bauten“, was in Zukunft eine immer wichtigere Rolle im Beruf spielen werde. (Bauen mit Bestand. Neuer Fernstudiengang der Hochschule Wismar, in «Baunetz», June 2010.





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