Saturday, August 31, 2013

Drawing and Learning, Learning and Drawing

On Friday, we started the day at 8:30 and headed towards the Potsdamer Platz block. Potzdamer Platz was one of the most heavily bombed areas of Berlin, where almost the entire area was demolished. The area now is home to some very famous names in architecture and their buildings- Richard Rodgers designed the master plan and some of the buildings, and Renzo Piano has some buildings there as well. Both men worked on the Centre Pompidou together in France, so this was an interesting project that they got to work together on again.

Piano developed new technologies for terra cotta tiles. You can now use them as a facade on exterior walls, and even as sun shades.


Some shots of Piano's buildings

A view of the skylights at the mall at Potsdamer Platz

The yellow slats are a movable louver system, that can move around during the day to always deflect the sun.

We visited the Otto Bock building next. Otto Bock is a company that makes prosthetic limbs, and is currently working on neurological prostheses. their building was built in 2007, and the exterior facade resembles muscle fibers as seen under a microscope.

The entrance, and my excited face.

I really liked the building and the thought behind its design. I also realized that the building is not square in plan, but is in fact an irregular shape. I don't know why the architect chose that shape, but it seems to work for the building. Heiner wasn't impressed really, the only aspect he had to praise was the triple height atrium space. But he thought it was just a boring steel framed building, nothing special.


Those stairs, man. Gorgeous.

I was very excited about a little sketch I did of the interior, but as soon as I left the building, Heiner reminded us that we should be drawing the plans and sections of the buildings we see. Well, shit, I didn't do that. Like at all. My drawing skills are still very rusty too. I tried to draw a section later, but it just looked like a dog drew it. What on earth am I going to do?! Honestly, I should stop comparing myself to my peers. People will be better than me, that's a given fact. I just need to work more at being the kind of architecture student that I want to be. 

Next, we wandered to the Sony Center. It's many public space and housing buildings, surrounding a plaza and fountain. It's covered by a magnificent shade structure. A truss ring runs in compression around the perimeter, while cables hold each support in tension where it meets the structure. That leads to a very stable shade structure.


I kept taking creeper photos everywhere in the city when I saw this building.

Our next stop would have been the Philharmonie, but practice was going on, so we headed to the National Gallery, designed by Mies Van Der Rohe.

Story says that Mies was excited to win the competition, but really didn't feel much like designing anything. So he repurposed designs for the Bacardi Rum factory (that was never built) and placed it all on a plinth in Berlin. The plinth is a physical and symbolic barrier- by building on a plinth, Mies emphasized that there is nothing natural about the space, that it is entirely man made. Plinths are not found in nature, after all. 

The building is made of steel and glass. The thick black roof plane is supported at only 8 points by thin columns, and a glass curtain wall runs around the perimeter. The glass and simple columns make the building feel as if it is one plane hovering above the ground. It's a beautiful architectural expression, and is actually regarded as the best proportioned building in the world.


I took a leaf out of Flash's light painting book and played around with the exhibits in the museum.

Next, we visited a research library, where we were only allowed in the lobby. We talked about the board formed concrete columns (you can see the seams from the boards used as the formwork for the column), the lines laid out on the floor (which brought to our attention the fact that the floor was designed too, an often overlooked part of the building), and how the space felt in general.



Love that column.

The last stops of the day were the DZ Bank by Frank Gehry, the Art Institute next door, and the Jewish Memorial.

Frank Gehry is notorious for being absolutely insane in his designs. The city of Berlin has lots of restrictions on building facades though, so Gehry just brought his imagination into the building, rather than displaying it out front. 

The front, with angled windows, and the interior, with a weird metal horse head or something.

Every building designed in Berlin must allocate 20% of its square feet to housing, so this is the housing side of Frank Gehry's DZ Bank.

Stairs in the Art Institute. Absolutely beautiful. Code is different in Europe, so they only require handrails (no guardrails)

The Jewish Memorial is striking. Words don't do it justice. Also I'm tired of typing.

Day three was museum day. We spent the entire day in the Museum part of town, visiting the Pergamum Museum, the Neues Museum, the Altes Museum, and a private gallery.

By accident, we showed up at a library we wanted to tour an hour before it opened, so we went to the German History Museum to sketch. It was designed by I.M. Pei, and had a very wonderful glass facade. I tried my darndest to sketch it, and was getting a little more confident.

So cool, right? Who knew buildings were awesome.

The Pergamom museum was specifically designed around five different Roman and Greek ruins that were shipped over to Berlin. The Pergamom Altar was the main attraction, but the entire museum was full of statues and works of antiquity.

The four different column types on the exterior.

I was whining to Lindsey outside the museum about how I was sad about my sketching, and she offered me her pen. My pens are all kind of thick, and this one was a very fine pointed ballpoint pen. HOLY POOP that pen changed my life. ALL of my sketches looked so much better. Who knew that a PEN would be what was holding me back? But it makes sense, I'm a very detailed sketcher, and when I use a fat pen all of my details run on top of one another. It's the worst. But Isaac gave me TWO pens to keep, and my sketches did a complete 180 today after using them. Incredible.

Pergamom Altar

Really, the highlight of my day was that pen. All of the museums were wonderful, and I realized very quickly that I wasn't even looking at the works, but the architecture. Museums are a special breed of building. The architecture has to be grand enough to feel stately, institutional, and respected, but also unassuming so that the works are what is on display. The Neues Museum had the most ornament out of all the museums we saw, but each space inside worked well with the artifacts on display.

Shots from the Neues Museum

And the Altes Museum!

We also visited the construction site of the Berlin Palace, where they are building a reconstruction of the building demolished in the war. Apparently, it's a very controversial reconstruction, and our professor is super opposed to it. But it was neat to learn about.

I'm so happy I found my pen soulmate. Flash described it as having climbing shoes that were too big, they work but it's just not a good fit. That's me and all the pens I brought. But now I have one that FITS ME. I could die I'm so happy about it.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha who knew life could be so altered by the discovery of a pen?? That's awesome, though!

    I am seriously loving these posts. All the pictures! It's like getting a tour of Germany on my lunch break at work :)