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Going to a Town: A Gallery for Gerhard Richter in Berlin

Part 2 Project 2012
Rebecca Roberts
London Metropolitan University | UK
Berlin is a city shrouded by traumatic history and full of unexpected moments of beauty. This project proposes an art gallery dedicated to the oeuvre of Gerhard Richter, situated in the cultural heart of Mitte, Berlin’s central district. Despite prolific bomb damage the curving street of Klosterstraße on which the site is situated retains its medieval character.

The proposed gallery exploits the potential for the reuse of two existing public buildings with a new concrete vaulted structure enveloping an 18th century Baroque church and an office building to form a 9000 square metre composition. The spatial disposition and character derive from the interpretation of formal geometries and city typologies. Games are played, reversing material conditions at thresholds, transitioning from as-found spaces to new gallery cloisters and circulation halls. Influences are drawn from some of Berlin’s most distinct architectural identities: the party wall, classical monuments and its pervasive austerity, as well as revisiting the Parisian Hotel, Palladio and Borromini.

The programme of the gallery is oriented around Richter’s landscape paintings, works that were made “to see the extent to which we still need beauty – to see whether it’s still conceivable today”. These works emanate an emotional silence as they confront the inevitable violence of man and nature. The gallery seeks to emulate if not match the artist’s experimentation with order, magnificent spatial depth, powerful atmospheres and architectural framing. Each room attempts to connect painting, proportion, light and symmetry.

The repatriation of the Baader-Meinhof Series is imagined. The fifteen paintings are hung in the alcoves of the existing Baroque church, drawing parallels between religion and the political context of art, between spiritual space and national gallery, and between the grand scale in architecture and the status of a painterly master.

The pragmatic contingencies of the gallery are addressed - building law, site restrictions, structure, construction, performance, art handling, public facilities, accessibility and environmental control. The superstructure generates the architectural expression. Prefabricated concrete elements mimic the solid brick vaults of the church, giving an expression of deep thresholds whilst their thin profiles allow service voids to channel up through walls and ceiling.

Rebecca Roberts

David Grandorge
Colin Wharry
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