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19 Hours at the Kiosk - Between Walls and Windows. Architecture and Ideology

This temporal intervention presented a spatial and programmatic scenario through the reinterpretation of one of the original 1950s architectural elements of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW). The project created an informal space of assembly around and developed through the architecture of the existing rooftop kiosk, referring to the ideological attempt of the former Congress Hall to be both a highly visible and ideologically charged symbol of freedom, facing—in its original conception—the Reichstag and, later, the Bundeskanzleramt.

19 hours at the kiosk was based on an ephemeral master plan that refers to two strains of thought initiated by Mikhail Bakhtin and Cedric Price; that of the carnivalesque-dialogic, and of non-prescriptive architecture. A series of external authors were involved in different sets of curatorial actions, including reinterpretations of the content on display, readings, a concert, food preparation, rehearsals, screenings, alcoholic consumables and temporary spatial and archival installations, while a set of informal (architectural) elements created a direct confrontation with the audience, participants and, in the line of sight, the federal institutions. Cruiseliner deck chairs—used in the tradition of English architect Cedric Price’s seminal lectures at the Architectural Association in London—allowed for a night-time perspective of the state-political landscape east of the HKW and the former death-zone surrounding the Berlin Wall. Many of Cedric Price’s projects—such as the Fun Palace or the Brunswick—have distinct features that resemble Bakhtin’s observations of the carnivalesque: an incomplete structure, the capacity to change according to the situation, and the structure’s dependence on what is happening inside it. Price argued against the production of permanent, specific spaces for particular functions, and instead advocated analysis of the motivations that might give rise to such structures. In his concept for the Fun Palace one could “choose what you want to do – or watch someone else doing it. Learn how to handle tools, paint, babies, machinery, or just listen to your favourite tune. Dance, talk or be lifted up to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting – or just lie back and stare at the sky.”

The existing kiosk was transformed into a vitrine, archive, and reading room, utilizing a series of newly designed and constructed displays and surfaces, in order for the kiosk to assume the role of a walk-in bookshelf. This element explored the theme of Architektur und Ideologie through the display of published and unpublished material. Bakhtin argued that no aspect of language exists in a vacuum, books refer, quote, and argue with one another. This reflected the complexity of ideology in relation to time as any given text is in constant negotiation with other texts, conveying not only its own meaning but also mediating between the meaning of the preceding written work and anticipating the meaning of future work, engaged in an endless re-description of the world. Here, printed matter was understood as an architectural element that interacted with architecture as though it were a text.

Done as part of Studio Miessen. Images courtesy of Studio Miessen