Ostalgia: Museum of the DDR, Palastplatz, Berlin
The spectacular, challenging, witty and serious work of Design Studio 15, can be seen in the University of Westminster’s end-of-year architecture show, Open. The show exhibits their designs for a major new museum on Berlin’s Museum Island, to celebrate, explore, challenge or reconsider the history of the East German Democratic Republic, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The exhibition features the explorations of the group of first and second year Diploma students in DS15, as they worked to consider the museum as a building type (selecting and displaying 100 objects each; collectively designing 500 museums in a week), explored the realms of symmetries, geometries and patternmaking as generators of architectural language (creating rich patterns and re-reading them as fragments of museums), and studied the history of the DDR (selecting and displaying museum exhibits from photographs to old clothes, from cameras to housing blocks) and the site (through visits, surveys and the construction of the huge site model).
Among the museums they went on to design are, in First Year: the Mausoleum of the Politburo (in the language of hunting trophies); the Backpackers’ Museum, a Romantic ruin of DDR architecture for occupation by latterday Grand Tourists and a Heroic project bringling together monumental architecture and the music of resistance.
And in Second Year: the Storytelling Museum, where former DDR citizens guide visitors through a backstage store; punctured by the ambiguous leap from East to West of border guard Conrad Schumann; an elusive and beautiful museum of highly ordered and rich fragments within a nearly-plain box; ‘The Fall of Lenin’ a museum which artefacts in two museums misdirect visitors through a haywire network of connectors and controllers; and a delicate string of pavilions hiding a sequence of vast, underground mirrored spaces; a great cage of Trabi parts ringed by flames; and the strangest of all the Museum Island — a cranked box of strange symmetries with two museums tours visiting the same ambiguous artefacts.
The show opens 6-9pm on Thursday June 17th in the fifth floor studios at University of Westminster, 35, Marylebone Road (opposite Madame Tussauds; tube: Baker Street) and continues daily 9am-9pm till July 4.