Tag Archives: Architecture

Day 25: On the Back Street Where I Live

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This isn’t sexy stuff, but I’ve been running around the neighborhood early in the morning and noticing a few things. The back street where I run is aligned with the railway line to the airport, a mere two or three stops away. Dresden is pretty small, so you can get from the center of town to the airport in about 20 minutes by train. My guesthouse is about halfway between stops.

I had noticed a lot of East German-like structures when I first rolled into town a few years back. They were pretty sorry and depressing. Well, they are finally being renovated. Thanks to my friend Hanne and the firm she worked for, they built the street where I run! The government also renovated the staunch old buildings–you can compare the before and after pictures. The buildings stand side by side with each other: one fully re-plastered with new storm windows, doors and foundations repaired, the other waiting for its turn. It’s an interesting historical comparison of two eras.

This industrial area includes new manufacturing and production facilities such as the Bosch pharmatech building adjacent to our guesthouse. The exterior to the guesthouse was renovated at the same time as the other buildings in (4).

Photos, from top:

1. The parking lot for the Industriegelände stop. Germans are good at putting their words into actions. They provide means for water runoff and drainage in parking lots under the car park areas to reduce storm drainage problems. While we are trying in the US, there’s still a lot of lip service and no action. While this solution doesn’t provide full absorption across a large area, at least the runoff is reduced. The roadways still seem to need asphalt, the most economical and durable material.

2. The Industriegelände train station. I didn’t think the noise was acceptable at first until I realized it was the route that I had taken from the airport to the city. It seems to pass every 15-30 minutes along with other night trains. I actually find the whirr comforting now.

3. The “Before” of a delapidated and unoccupied building, waiting for funding and a purpose.

4. The “After” version, ready for another 50 years of use. Buildings have good bones in Germany. In the book “the Orientalist” that I am reading now, the Germans were reknown for building solid cellars in their colonial holdings. This is a good example of the building’s stoutness and longevity.

5. The Bosch Pharmatech facility next to our guesthouse.

6. The Former Russian Military buildings used by the Goethe Institute for students.

Day 24: Third Eye Blind

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The Germans are among the best at designing rooftops of any people in the world. They seem to have mastered drawing your eye beyond the structure to the vanishing point leading to heaven. Maybe they had a lot of practice at it building all those Gothic cathedrals, where they pushed the boundaries of structure and visual drama. One of the tallest cathedrals in the world at the time it was built, Köln Cathedral, could certainly be attributed to German ingenuity and of course, its commitment to Christianity.

For residential buildings, what they do with those steep roofs besides letting the snow slide down in the harsh winters and how they manage volumes of space inside become interesting design problems. Many of the roofs are laden with gabled windows, dormers, and an encyclopedia of architectural terms that could keep a student of architecture googling all night (Julianne make note).

We toured Loschwitz today, a lovely upscale neighborhood in a very elegant part of Pre-war Dresden. Take a look at a sample of my photo survey of roofs. How clever can you get, satisfying the interior functionality and the need for light with the visual balancing act of the exterior?

Photos, from top.

1. One potato

2. Two potato

3. Three potato, blind?

Note: for a list of the tallest buildings in the world at the time they were built, including two in Germany, see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_and_structures_in_the_world

For more about Loschwitz, see http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loschwitz

(Notes on the history of Luisenhof, the restaurant where Hanne and Jens took me last night, is covered in this article).

Day 22: Goetting Goethe

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Okay, so what’s the fuss about Goethe anyway? Yeah, he wrote a book about dealing with the devil, and the Goethe Institute I attend is named after the dude. And of all things there’s a statue of him and his buddy Schiller of all things at Golden Gate Park. Being an architect and not a writer or a scholar, I have an excuse for not knowing about German writers and philosophers. So for you literary types out there, please give me a break, OK?

Tonite I went to a film night at the GI (not Gastro Intestinal, but Goethe Institute as I will henceforth refer to fondly as “GI”). The name of the film, Surprise! surprise! was “Goethe!”.  Despite getting there 15 minutes late (is this a pattern of mine?) I was quickly subsumed into the story line, despite the fact that the language AND the subtitles were in German. What is this anyway, a German class?

In the genre of the “Amadeus” movie by the Czech director Milos Forman or the other period piece “Beloved” about Beethoven, this story portrays Goethe as a frisky young guy who falls in love with a soon to be married young woman, Lotte. The twist to this story is that she sticks by her man and marries him (Kestner). Goethe is put in prison after a failed duel with Kestner. During the duel Goethe purportedly shot first, but missed. When it was the turn for Kestner, he shot into the air, saving Goethe.

But he got sent to prison anyway. Goethe did, for 6 months. During which time he used his time wisely and wrote the “Sorrows of Young Werther”.   Lotte pays a visit to Goethe in prison. Hurtfully, she tells him that she intends to marry Kestner after Goethe makes a last ditch pitch.  He writes feverishly as the wedding bells can be heard clanging outside his window. Heartbroken, he sends the finished manuscript to Lotte.

The final scene is Goethe’s release from prison and as he is going through the streets,  the throng of the crowds are heralding this fantastic new novel that has just been published. Guess what! It turns out to be the acclamation of his “Sorrows  of Young Werther”, that recounted is own story of Lotte, or the real life Charlotte.

I’m going to attach the Wikipedia (this is the first Wiki that has ever excited me) content at the bottom of this post so you can read accurate information for yourself and connect it with what you may already know about Goethe.

But three things for me:

1. He didn’t like “bugs, tobacco smoke, garlic, and the cross”.
2. He spearheaded the movement in Weimar, a city that I would love to visit more. Goethe foresaw the potential doom of the German people, that tragically played out in WWII. The Nazi shutdown of the Weimar Republic must have been related in part to Goethe’s writings. The Bauhaus movement began there too.
3. The opera “Werther” by Massenet is one of the most beautiful and passionate operas I have seen. (and the main singer Jonas Kaufmann, is an amazing new German opera singer–worth getting the DVD on the Met Opera movie). Tis was a takeoff on Goethe. No surprise that many writers such as Thomas Mann and composers pay homage to Goethe’s originality.
4. In 1774, Goethe was writing this novel  in the midst of the revolutions unfolding next door, in France, and in the US! Just imagine what a world that must have been. Of course no internet or Twitter, no Arab Spring, so news may not have even impacted Germany much at that time.
5. I am noticing a distinct similarity of the Goethanum mentioned in the Wiki article and the Goethe Institute here. Compare the photos.

That was more than 3. But I got inspired and couldn’t resist. Check this guy out. He’s worth it!

By the way, it looks like this movie is on YouTube. In English it is called Goethe in Love, produced in 2010 by a German director Philipp Stolzl.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Wolfgang_von_Goethe

Photos, below:

1. Hypothetical design for Goetheanum

2. Goethe Institute, Dresden

3. Statue of Goethe and his literary buddy Schiller resident in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
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Day 13: Trier, Germany’s Oldest City

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Trier’s history is one of the most fascinating stories in Europe. Beginning with the rule of Julius Caesar in 50 BC when he ordered Roman walls to be erected to protect its soldiers and citizens to destruction in World War II, it transcended the presence of Constantine, who held court in the reception hall in 300 AD; the monk who lived in medieval times in the Porte Negra; the rape, pillage and trading of the Vikings; and the arrival of Napoleon.

The major buildings include the Porte Negra, the only remaining Roman wall today; the Basilica, where it served as a pilgrimage church during the Crusades; and the Reception Hall where Constantine met his guests.

Photos from top:

1. Map of Trier, with the Moselle River inning through it;
2. The Basilica
3. The Konigstherme

Day 11: Reconstruction of Reims

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The magnificent Reims Cathedral is still under construction and funds continue to be raised to complete the portions that were destroyed in WW 1. The Rockefellers were big donors in the past.

Having just visited Westminster Abbey and the exterior of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on this trip, I can appreciate the scale and proportion of this Gothic cathedral.  The community of Reims must have been extremely proud and passionate about this monument. It is no wonder that any destruction of such an iconic value to a community is devastating and unrecoverable unless it is rebuilt in its entirety.

Being a champagne producing  area certainly fueled the economy of Reims and therefore its ability to fund such an elaborate structure. Walking through town, I noticed many fine patrician buildings dating from 1889 and earlier.

We did take a champagne tour at Casanova-Martell. Champagne is made from three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunière. The juice provides the sugar and the skin provides the yeast. We had a delicious tasting of three champagnes.

Photos, from top:

1. The exterior of Reims cathedral, still under construction.

2. The Nave of the cathedral

3.  The vaulted ceiling, of which portions were bombed in 1914-1918

4. The Rose Window at the South end

5. The Marc Chagall windows at the apse