A science fiction architectural history
5 April 2016

“Dis-moi (puisque tu es si sensible aux effets de l’architecture), n’as-tu pas observé, en te promenant dans cette ville, que d’entre les édifices dont elle est peuplée, les uns sont muets; les autres parlent; et d’autres enfin, qui sont les plus rares, chantent?”

Eupalinos ou l’architecte, Paul Valéry, 1921


The connection of the facade between buildings (and urban space) and the society contains many different and complex components, that are direct consequences of time and culture.

We can affirm, that buildings transpire concepts, which are deeply connected to the mentality of people.

Architecture translates values, which people can identify themselves with and which embody ideals of (a parto or, perhaps, the majority of) the society.

Our work started with the research of values and meanings in two kinds of facades; on one hand the „contextual facade“, a facade which decides wich part of the context to tell and uses a „layer“ to let things be seen or told.

On the other hand the „transparent facade“, which is explicit in its goals – program, structure, function – and is coherent with the building.

In addition to that, we used the occasion offered by the „Energiesparverordnung 2012“ and sprang in the time to the year 2050: by then the energetic demand of buildings should decrease by the 80%. Meanwhile we should think of alternative energy sources to replace the existing ones.

That could mean a deep changing in the urban situation, which we used as project scenario.

We chose an area in the city which we imagined in 40 years. This area is a part of the Friedrichstraße.

We chose it because of its strong urban character, due to its history and architectural language and also because the vocation of the street has always been public.

Therefore, the facade has always played a meaningful role to communicate specific values or messages.

We analyzed the portion of the Friedrichstraße between Unten den Linden and Leipziger Straße: 14 blocks, 7 buildings each side, which we tried to understand under the interpretation of contextual of transparent.

We imagined this street in 40 years and decided to imagine a fantastic situation, not an ideal one, so that we were able to bring each concept until the facade without considering any ethical question. And we wanted to remark the word „fantastic“ because we haven´t thought about it as a utopian (or dystopian) reality, suspending our judgment on it.

Our work is conceived as a mental exercise, which we affirm new context conditions with, which let us re-think the facade according to different logics and processes: our science-fiction architectural history.

We found inspiration for that in an interview by the American architects Thom Mayne and Lebbeus Woods: „it’s a really interesting argument that they’re moving out of the materialist mode that all of us have accepted and they’re moving into an information and quality of life mode” .

We considered that, in order to have more significant features perceivable on the facades, we had to think about a society that has taken a distance from the materialist mentality of nowadays and instead has moved to an intellectual and rational one.

We thought of new possible values for our society: the cognitive process originates from the perception of reality, which is coded and elaborated through „data“. This becomes the new religion. We designed a temple for that.

In a society, which has moved away from mass consumption, an intelligent energy production becomes part of the process: buildings should produce energy themselves, and thir „users“ too. We designed an energetic building for that.

A very important aspect we had to consider is the relation to the existing buildings. Therefore we have analyzed the buildings considering the different styles of construction. Then we have asked ourselves which part of the facade could have been manipulated and re-thought.

We decided to play with futuristic materials, such as the „Aerogel“ and to consider it as the insulation of the future. We designed an aerogel-insulated building for that.

Our three buildings are thought as illustrative models for an architectonic approach, in order to investigate the topic of the facade.

Technische Universität Berlin, Professor Jörg Stollmann, 2011           In collaboration with Mattis Krebs      (I don’t own the copyright of the photos)