International Event on Architecture, Society and the Future
18. March 2016 | Words: Nadin Heinich, Photography: Tanja Kernweiss
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 45 seconds
Sold out! ARCHITECTURE MATTERS, a new international architecture symposium that will henceforth convene annually in Munich, kicked off on 19 February 2016 with an attendance of over 250.
ARCHITECTURE MATTERS addresses the difference good architecture can make – not when reduced to pretty shapes or as a cost driver but architecture as a cultural force that encapsulates social life, shaping it in all its diversity. As a catalyst for renewal. Some of the world’s best young architects are invited to set out their projects and visions as well as to swap notes with the Munich scene. With talks, performances, discussion sessions and musical interludes. ARCHITECTURE MATTERS is targeted towards architects, representatives from the worlds of real estate and politics, manufacturers and a broader public. Conceived and organised by plan A, supported by FSB.
The symposium was opened by David Van Severen of Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen from Brussels. His company garnered international acclaim in 2008 as curators of the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennial with “After The Party” and confetti on the floor, winning the Silver Lion two years later. They are currently lecturing at Yale and are the curators for this year’s Biennale Interieur in the Belgian town of Kortrijk. The career of Harry Parr, one half of Bompas & Parr from London, is founded on his extraordinary capacity for replicating jelly. From Foster’s “wobbly” Millennium Bridge to entire airports, he has already based a great many buildings on the substance. But Bompas & Parr also occasionally cook with lava or lightning to create various other culinary settings with which to tickle our palates. These chaps operate to a tight schedule. The company’s payroll is 22-strong at present, its clients including the likes of Selfridges, Louis Vuitton or Mercedes-Benz, not to mention exhibitions in the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Salone del Mobile in Milan and the Sex Museum in New York.
The Munich Session with architect Peter Haimerl, Matthias Lilienthal, manager of the Munich Kammerspiele theatre, and Stefan F. Höglmaier, founder and CEO of the Euroboden Group, was likewise well attended despite all three being familiar Munich faces – or precisely because of that. Who builds what, when, how, where and why? Do architects need to generate assignments to a far greater extent themselves? Is it possible to earn good money with good architecture? Do installations such as Lilienthal’s “Shabby Shabby Apartments” in the gentrified heart and city centre of Munich still trouble anyone today?
The international dimension returned with Ole Scheeren: He began designing at the age of 14, built the first house of his own and toured China when he was 21 and, when just 31, joined OMA, managing business with Asia, and planned the world’s second biggest office block with CCTV. Now aged 44, he has been running his own architects’ office since 2010 with branches in Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok and, since the autumn of 2015, an establishment in Berlin. Chinese expeditiousness meets German snugness? Not a bit of it! He is presently planning his first high-rise venture outside Asia in Vancouver.
And then the Russians came. Munich was graced by the presence of Wowhaus, currently one of the best and most important Russian architecture offices. Wowhaus have never been interested in buildings as eccentric objects. From the outset they have focused on cultural buildings and the public domain – a topic long neglected in Moscow. Dmitry Likin (*1966) and Oleg Shapiro (*1962), both trained architects, set up their company in 2007. In the tempestuous 1990s they were little inclined to design swanky palaces for the nouveaux riches. Likin became head designer at Channel One television, whilst Shapiro sold helicopters. Their architectural phase dates from the upheaval following the resignation of Moscow’s long-standing mayor Luzhkov. Likin and Shapiro really achieved popular acclaim with their design for the Strelka Institute and their refashioning of Gorki Park. Moscow could do with more companies like theirs!
The music before, during and after the symposium was provided by Mirko Hecktor. The day overall was curated by plan A founder Nadin Heinich and compered by herself, Nan Mellinger and Mathieu Wellner. We greatly look forward to 2017!