Tag Archives: Design

Day 28: What’s the Point?




Here are a couple of Jeopardy-type questions for those of you Trivia fanatics out there:

1. Why is the statue of the Golden Reiter facing away from the Elbe River?

2. What does the sharp point of the Historical Military Museum designed by world-famous architect Daniel Liebskind face?

Photos, from top:

1. The Golden Reiter, King Augustus.

2. Design of the Dresden Historical Military Museum.

3. My friend Helena from Zurich making a point at one of the museums we visited

Day 24: Third Eye Blind


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


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.


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