Neues Museum Berlin

March 8, 2009

The Neues Museum has opened again, 60 years after being bombed in WW2. It is part of the world cultural heritage site of the Berlin museum island.
Architect David Chipperfield was entrusted with the task and his plans for the Neues Museum were controversial. There was a lot of critique especially by the citizens of Berlin (of course, architecture critique is a public hobby in germany…)
But for the opening (just the building, the exhibitions are not even there yet), people stood in rows waiting 2 hours in the rain to be let in. And so far the majority of the reactions have been postive.
The Neues Museum is certainly unique. A truely modern museum, with state-of the art technique. And (and this is a true miracle) it was 33 millions cheaper than calculated.
Many people wanted a complete reconstruction of the building. There were enough scars in Berlin they said. Chipperfield decided to keep those scars, the history, the life of the museum, visible. It was a brave decision.
This museum is old and new, whole and hurt. It´s an exhibit in itself.

Looking at historical pictures of the Neues Museum i think i like this version better (even though i´ve only seen pictures yet). Of course i like historical buildings and reconstructed frescos, but i don´t need a time capsule, a happy disneyland. I would rather have this building, a building that breathes history. I think it has dignity.

You could write books of course, about the architecture and history of the museum, so here are some articles to start with:
Here is a (postive) in-depth article by bd-the architects website.
And a negative one (in german)by german newspaper Die Welt.
Here is an english one with statements by Chipperfield Architects themselves.

(As someone working in exhibition design, i wonder though, how the exhibitions will work, especially since the contain such iconic exhibits as the Nofretete bust. The museum itself is an exhibit and it will be difficult i think to give both, building and exhibits, the attention they deserve without making them compete or negate each other.But we´ll see.)

Krijin de Koning

August 9, 2008

Really interesting work by Krijin de Koning, an artist from the Netherlands whose works “deal with the idea of architecture and place”. Well, isn´t that what they all claim? But he does it really well i think. His – often temporary – installations cleverly change perception of the surroundings.


The featured work was shown 2006 in the Abbaye de Corbigny in France (yellow) and in Hilversum in the Netherlands in 1999 (blue).

Check out his website for more of his work.

Concrete Canvas

April 6, 2008

Design is not just about making pretty things. Good design makes life easier for people, great design encompasses other factors such as being environment friendly or user friendly. Ground-breaking design however sees a need and assuages it – smartly.

British inventors Peter Brewin and William Crawford saw such a need 2004 in Uganda. They had developed a “concrete canvas“, a super strong cloth, which could be formed into strong stable igloo-like structures and won several prizes with it.

In Uganda, like in many countries, refugees lack safe shelters. Flimsy tents are blown away by the wind and get destroyed by water, or broken into by thieves or even enemy soldiers,who seek to steal away children for their army.

The designers answered to this need for safe shelters by inventing their “building in a bag” that only requires air and water for construction, can be deployed quickly and easily and can last up until 10 years. It can be sterelized for medical uses, provides better security (against looting and nature elements) and safe emergency shelters. It can also be demolished easily and leaves little material for disposal.

Go to Designboom for a cool interview with the designers and to see how it works and/or to this Newsweek article explaining how it could help those people in Uganda. (Although i´m still wondering how much water the structures actually need, since that is also lacking in a lot of the areas they would be used in.)
Still, a wonderful invention that hopefully will soon be used to help thousands of people.

This is design at it´s best.


March 21, 2008

I found this right on time for the long easter weekend it seems.

A faboulus website to “waste” away the next couple of days (or more). ffffound is an image bookmarking website. You have to be invited by a member to be allowed to blog, but viewing them is for free. Images range from photography to graphic design, art, advertising, street art, vintage posters etc. From beautiful, enchanting and strange to dark and gloomy. Basically everything that catches the bloggers eye.

There must be more than 20 000 images there and it´s growing constantly.

A really great source for inspiration.

Happy easter 🙂

Heavenly architecture

February 15, 2008

Ancient church buildings were propably the first “designed” spaces. Their architecture manipulated light and space (think of the progressive location of the arches, benches, chandeliers, windows etc.) to draw you to the light (the altar) and create a soaring atmosphere.
(Funnily enough today´s large capacity discos use the same principle.)
The coolhunter compiled a beautiful collection of church designs and re-designs. The featured churches all use the aforementioned principles, but in a truely inspiring (and contemporary) way.


See more images in The Coolhunter´s article: Immaculate Renovations
The article also contained my new favourite book store, the Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands.
I have half a mind to just drive over one day and spend the day there. 🙂 The (re-)design won the Lensvelt de Architect Interior Prize 2007 and was done by the architects of Merkx + Girod. The corresponding article “A bookstore made in heaven” can be found here.

Unexpected jubilance

November 2, 2007




Wow. I just saw the opening ceremony for the new window at our cologne cathedral on tv and really fell in love with it. The light cast by the stained glass mosaik is absolutly sublime. The artist Gerhard Richter used a random generator to create the colors for 11 500 glass squares and their layout on the window and gave his design as a gift to the church. The 370 000 € manufacturing costs were donated by over 1000 people. The original window was destroyed during the second world war, the orignal drawings lost.

There was a lot of controversy about it at first. The church would have preferred a more traditionally figurative subject, for example with representations of saints or 20th century martyrs for this prominent window in germany´s most famous cathedral. I was sceptical at first too, not because i doubted the artistic value of the window, but because i wasn´t sure if it would work in a church where it´s main purpose is to be a symbol of religion and was afraid it might be too decorative to work in the over 1000 year old gothic cathedral.

Seeing it today for the first time i think it works beautifully. The Frankfurt Daily FAZ says the work “bursts into unexpected jubilance” and calls it an “ocean of glass” and they are right. The window talks about light and the brilliancy of life and hope, typified in the colors of the rainbow.

Thrilling wonders

September 10, 2007


This image is not Photoshop generated. In fact this enormous cavern is part of Tokyo´s infrastructure built to prevent overfloading during typhoon season. I found this post on the amazing website of Avi & Rachel Abrams, which is part of the “Thrilling wonder” family of sites. They want to promote “the intense, wonderful and never-boring” side of things. And do so beautifully. If you have some hours (days!) of free time and are in serious need of inspiration, spend some time on their website.

Here you can find galleries with themes like: Abandoned tunnels and vast underground spaces, The most beautiful libraries of the world, Lord of the logistics 1-5, Dust storms, Guy´s thing:weird inventions, Aim…Fire! (High speed photography), Cool ads and many many more (i wish i could name them all).

I have no idea how they could amass such a beautiful collection of images, but they are all worth a look, so check out DarkroastedBlend: Something old. Something new. Something cool.

Pregnant building

August 30, 2007

Surfing on one of my favourite blogs i found a picture of Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset´s Belly Door from 2006. Well, that object didn´t really do a lot for me, but that may be because i didn´t really spent time thinking about it. My mind immediately switched to another – to me – much more interesting project i saw a while ago.
front view
Architect Hiroshi Nakamuro realised this residential building in Tokyo in 2006. I think this “pregnant building” is a wonderful implementation of the concept that a house should protect and shelter its owner.
The space create by the “belly” on the inside is simply a wonderful, original new place. It´s not an undefined space, but a (safe) place to be.