Five books on the work, views and approaches of the architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) have been published in recent months. The œuvre of the practice is very diverse, and similarly the authors approach their subjects – which couldn’t be more varied - in very different ways: from building in a historic context via the design and construction of Chinese cultural venues through to a view behind the curtain of large German construction sites, the books illustrate examples of gmp’s work in text and images.
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About the books:
„Auf alten Fundamenten. Bauen im historischen Kontext“
Volkwin Marg (Ed.), Gert Kähler, Dölling and Galitz Publishers, ISBN 978-3-86218-039-4
In spite of the fact that the problem is as old as architecture, it is only recently that architects are contemplating the correct treatment of the historic base on which they build something new. And yet the following holds: building always involves a continuation. Every place, every site had a history before architects put something new on it. The architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners have achieved worldwide recognition through buildings that interact sensitively with the place and its history; nevertheless, they remain true to their contemporary architectural approach. In about 30 examples from Hamburg (HafenCity, Kehrwiederspitze, Hamburg History Museum and others) and the world (State Opera Berlin, Stuttgart main railway station, Berlin Olympic Stadium, National Museum Beijing, Kirow Stadium St. Petersburg, Warsaw Stadium and others) the historic prerequisites and the architectural solutions for building on old foundations are illustrated in this book – the architect as raconteur…
„Über der Elbe. Die Seefahrtschule Hamburg. Von Rainville’s Garten über die Seefahrtschule Hamburg zum Campus Rainvilleterrasse“, Meinhard von Gerkan (Ed.), Gert Kähler, Dölling and Galitz Publishers, ISBN 978-3-86218-055-4
It is a special place this terrain sloping down to the River Elbe, just below the Elbchaussee next to the “Altonaer Balkon”. Well-to-do ship owners, bankers and merchants have been appreciating it since the seventeenth century. The classicist architect Christian Frederik Hansen built a fabulous residence there, which shortly after 1800 was converted by a French immigrant into a top restaurant and meeting point of great renown in Europe: Rainville’s Garden. Following its demise and the demolition of the building, there was a second – likewise failed attempt – at a gastronomic use. Then, at the beginning of the 1930s, a largely unknown architect built the Altona Navigation School on the same site in the style of the “Neues Bauen” (New Building). After the school was closed down, the building stood empty for a long time and was forgotten; it was about to be pulled down in order to make way for a new, lucrative office development. Following protests on the part of Hamburg citizens, a new idea for using the site was found thanks to the initiative of a private charitable foundation under the auspices of the architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, an idea which included a public restaurant. This meant that the building could be retained. The book traces the changing fortunes of the buildings, bringing to life two hundred years of local history.
„Qingdao Grand Theater in China. The Grand Theater Qingdao in China“
Meinhard von Gerkan, Stephan Schütz (Ed.), Jovis, ISBN 978-3-86859-321-1
The Qingdao Opera House is located in the Laoshan District of the port city at a newly created park which stretches from the sea to the foothills of the Laoshan mountains. The objective of the design was to transfer the landscape and natural forces into the language of architecture and, in this way, create a unique ensemble from the relationship with the genius loci. The building rises like a mountain range from the landscape, while a “floating” cloud-like roof sails over the structure.
The publication illustrates how this “stage of urban life” plays a role in the historic context of China’s opera houses and concert halls. Comments by architectural critic Christian Brensing and photographs by the architectural photographer Christian Gahl comprehensively introduce the building.
„Das Chinesische Nationalmuseum in Peking. The National Museum of China in Beijing“
Meinhard von Gerkan, Stephan Schütz, Ma Lidong, Jovis, ISBN 978-3-86859-320-4
The conversion and extension of the National Museum of China combines the former Chinese History Museum with the Chinese Revolutionary Museum. The building – which was completed at “the square of heavenly peace” (Tiananmen Square) in the direct vicinity of the Forbidden City in 1959 - to this day marks an important milestone in more recent Chinese architectural history. The architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, together with the CABR practice in Beijing, won the competition for the conversion and extension of this building. In consultation with the client, the design was revised with the objective of matching the new building harmoniously with the exterior of the old structure, and yet creating a clear distinction between the old and the new. The publication highlights the German-Chinese cooperation on the world’s largest museum, and recounts its history in detail. An introduction by Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, detailed comments by the American cultural journalist András Szántó, and photographs by the architectural photographer Christian Gahl comprehensively introduce the building.
„Black Box BER. Wie Deutschland seine Zukunft verbaut“
Meinhard von Gerkan, Quadriga, ISBN 978-3-86995-060-0
The Willy Brandt airport at Berlin-Brandenburg has the reputation of being Germany’s most embarrassing construction site. The media contains derogatory comments on construction defects, design errors and chaotic decision-making. In May 2012, the clients showed the red card to the architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) because they had identified the architects as being responsible for the failure to meet the deadline for the airport opening ceremony. The architects were sacked and taken to court. After months of icy silence, Meinhard von Gerkan is now speaking up for the first time, commenting on the circumstances of the termination of contract, the reasons for the failure, the general problems involved with building airports and on the question as to why large construction projects such as the BER, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Stuttgart 21 face such difficulties in Germany. He discusses the BER disaster in the context of large international projects and describes a way out of the crisis.
Heiner Leiska www.leiska.de