Friday, September 6, 2013

Pierced and Pieced

Nuremberg has a somber past with an interesting architectural solution. Nuremberg was the capital city essentially for the Nazi party in World War II, and there are a lot of buildings around here that Hitler had constructed. He wanted to build with a sense of power, so that anyone looking at his work would know that he meant business. So the building he had constructed at the Nazi Rally Grounds was an impressive, symetric, Neoclassical monster. We visited it yesterday, which has been turned into a museum since the fall of the Nazi Party.

The main entrance

The full building. The addition is only on the white building on the right.

Originally, no one would even touch it because of the baggage behind it. The massive complex was used as storage for decades, until the idea for the museum unfolded. The architect wanted to use the museum addition to emphasize that this building can move on from its past and isn't bound by it. Therefore, his intervention breaks the symetrical axis of the building. The steel and concrete intervention slices diagonally through the space like a bolt of lightning, carving away brick walls and really piercing the building.

Lots of steel and concrete.

Gorgeous :)

It was a very powerful space to be in. The material was very sobering, but the architecture did an incredible job of completely changing the dynamic of the building. We were allowed up onto the rooftop terrace as well (special architecture student privelages!) and we got a great view of Nuremberg.

Crossing over the old entrance to the building

More steel

The hall of Great Columns, with the steel walkway piercing through

We went into the old medieval city (surrounded by a wall) after the museum. Heiner took us to a small chapel with a BEAUTIFUL interior redesign. The vestibule was made of undulating layers of horizontal glass, which contrasted beautifully with the pale church proper. I think it created a feeling that you don't really associate with churches. That's what I love about architecture, it can completely change the way people interact with buildings and how they feel inside them.



Heiner left us at lunch time to spend the afternoon and evening with his mother, but he gave us maps of the city, a ticket to the Nuremberg Neues Museum, and instructions to meet back by the museum at 6 for a tour with an alumnus. So, John and I walked around the city (and found the red light district in the daytime, awkward) and visited the museum. It's a really cool museum, the facade is in line with the front of the street, but it stretches way back to the old city wall. It creates a nice little courtyard, where there was a fountain exhibit on display. Kids were laughing and running in the water, which gave the whole plaza a really nice atmosphere.

Lots of pandas in the streets of Nuremberg

The facade is a mirrored surface, which makes the plaza look much larger. And just LOOK at that staircase!


It makes my heart stop.

The gallery space

We started playing a game in Nuremberg, called "When was that building built". The city was heavily bombed in the war. But instead of building something new against all the rubble, people just rebuilt a lot of the buildings that were here exactly as it used to be. It was an attempt to almost erase the damage the car caused and get back to normal as quickly as possible (since there's a lot of shame and guilt attached to losing the war). So we look at the facades now, and we try to guess if it's original construction, a reconstruction, or just new architecture from the 1950's and 60's. It's so crazy too, you can tell where the bombs fell and which buildings were close enough to be damaged JUST by the facades. I mean, we can because we know what we're looking for.

From right to left: Original, 60's new, 50's reproduction, etc. 

In the afternoon, Lindsey, Isaac, and I all decided to do some laundry, so we had an explosion of clothes on clotheslines in the room. Also, my pants are still saturated in blue dye (from when I bought them in the SPRING) so lots of things have a nice new blue tinge to them. Oh well.

That evening, we met Reinhard, who was a VT Architecture grad student around 20 years ago. He toured us around the old city, and led our group on Friday. He's an architect in Nuremberg, and had a lot to say about the architecture in the city, the history of the city, and about a lot of our professors that he had too :) We had dinner at a beer garden, where we talked and caroused and he bought the second round. It was a very fun evening full of conversation.

I left Reinhard around 11:00 on Thursday night with Lindsey, Isaac, and Wallace to head back to the hostel. We did some wiggly sketches of the cathedral and we went back to visit the chapel at night (as Heiner suggested we do). Apparently some of the group stayed out with Reinhard pretty late, but everyone was ready to go Friday morning at 8:45.

The museum was all closed up this morning, the plaza empty. Stark contrast to the day before.

We began our day at the Academy of Fine Arts. It was founded around 300 years ago by Albrech Durer, a famous painter and mathematician. The school moved to the outskirts of Nuremberg after the war, and the campus recently received a new half. We walked down the old part and back up the new. It's always very interesting to compare old architecture to new, especially when they are working together in one project.

New vs. Old



The new addition deals with light in a different way than the old buildings. The old part has courtyards around the studios. The new part does as well, but it doesn't feel as comfortable as the old. I guess that comes with shiny new things though. They just look cleaner, less worn, and less comfortable.

Friday just felt really weird. We didn't visit many buildings. Reinhard was with us, and we went to the Academy and to an office building, and then back to Reinhard's apartment/office (which he designed) for pizza and beer. Not as much walking around as usual, and not as many buildings as usual. Don't get me wrong, my feet are appreciative of the break. But it just feels weird, not being so GO GO GO all the time.

The office building was a small building, in the vein of Aldo Rossi. It resembled the iconic shape of a house (as drawn by a child) with an asymetric spin put on it. It was pretty hit or miss with the studio, but I appreciated it for the most part. It felt cramped on the interior, and the back facade had WAY to much glazing (which makes the building stupidly hot). But it was a cute little modern building.

Too many windows.

And some nice stairs!

I didn't take any photos in Reinhard's apartment, but it was a really cool space. His unit is right on the banks of a creek, so you can hear the rushing water from all through the apartment. It's a very modern "designer" style house though- very open floor plan, few walls, lots of white and black, and expensive decorations. Definitely a bachelor pad of a rich architect. 

Hanna, Rebecca, and I headed to the old city one last time after leaving Reinhard's apartment. There was a little market set up, which we perused. We got gelato and then found a brewery that CJ had suggested to me, so I got a beer and we all sat around and talked. I can't believe we've been on this trip for, what, 9 days? It feels like forever. And yet time is passing so quickly. My sketchbook is almost full, too. What the poop will I do for the other 9 weeks of the trip, sketch on napkins?! Haha!

Yeah baby, brewery!


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