Thursday, March 27, 2014

Architectural Nostalgia

For more than two decades, since the end of the Berlin has discussed and planned for the rebuilding of the Schloss, the home of the Prussian kings in the heart of Berlin.  I assumed that someone would wake up and say-- Genug!  Enough!  But I was stunned to find on my visit to the city a forest of cranes busily building the new/old Schloss, with "extreme authenticity" (so said the sign on the three story facade they built to whet our appetite for this architectural fantasy).  The recreation of this historic building with a dubious history on which to hang Berlin's image required the destruction of the Palast der Republik, the home of the East Germany government -- indeed the destruction of that building may have been the main goal of the whole project.  (My colleague here at the Academy, Reynold Reynolds produced a beautiful film about the final destruction of the building, called The Last of the Republic). East Germans protested -- some called it "Ost Nostalgie" -- nostalgia for the old East Germany -- but it was to no avail.  Instead, the heart of Berlin has lain empty for two decades awaiting something better.  This eerie of fantasy of recreating a Prussian monument is not it.

And now I read an effective critique by Sam Jacobs of another nostalgic reconstruction, this time of the Crystal Palace, south of London.  Jacobs correctly says that this is "zombie architecture":

"Its return as a ghost, zombie or otherwise undead form of architecture should be seen for what it is: a ghoulish pull on our tender heartstrings in the service of large scale development. Its construction, like the Infomart in its cheap cartooning of history, would only make our sense of loss greater."

No comments:

Post a Comment