The Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) takes the project “Utopie Kulturforum” as an opportunity to situate its own building, planned by Rolf Gutbrod, in the context of the architectural and urban visions of the 1960s and 1970s. Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted with video mapping projections that transform the prominent, open staircase into a multiple projection surface.
Horseshoe or “burst hand grenade”
The Stuttgart architect Rolf Gutbrod envisioned today’s Kulturforum as a new West Berlin Museum Island, “a lively cultural center roaming with people all day long” with apartments on the museum roofs, restaurants and connecting pedestrian bridges to the Tiergarten and across the Landwehr Canal. His first design, submitted in 1966, was described as a “burst hand grenade” and had to be revised. The core of the proposal was a rising square and a horseshoe enclosing it, to which the various museums were attached.
The Museum of Decorative Arts was the only museum to be built, but it did not open until 1985. It started as a utopia of a large-scale structure of the 1960s, but the political process towards building real architecture has honed the utopia of the original design over the years.
Utopia of the large-scale structure
The Berlin artist duo Prjktr (David Roth and Florian Machner) takes this first draft as the starting point for their intervention in the prominent stairwell of the Museum of Decorative Arts and contextualizes the building in the area of conflict of architectural and urban utopias of the 1960s. In their video-mapping projections, they transform elements of brutalist architecture into thematic collages of rolling cities, desert-like superstructures, post-futuristic walk-throughs, and post-anthropocene abysses. In parallel, they position the Museum of Decorative Arts in the cosmos of realized buildings by architect Rolf Gutbrod, who received the Ordre pour le Mérite in 1971 for the “project of the Museums at Kemperplatz zu Berlin, which is based on a truly modern idea of museum design.” The press response to the opening in 1985, on the other hand, stigmatized the Museum of Decorative Arts as “a world collection in exposed concrete,” thus laying the foundation for “one of Berlin’s most unjust architectural legends.”
Prjktr (David Roth and Florian Machner) have been working on staging the built space since 2011, by placing it in the area of conflict between art and architecture, stage and staging, projection and lighting.
The intervention KGM:landed! by prjktr is curated by Claudia Banz, Curator Design at the Museum of Decorative Arts.