Zeitgeist Archive, Berlin
At the RIBA awards in London on 7th December 2011, the SOM foundation Fellowship award was won by Sean Peel, Steven Kok and Hannah Wilson for their thesis project Zeitgeist Berlin. The School congratulates them on this fine achievement.
If methods of representation are always inferior to the original idea itself, can retrospective values ever be recaptured? This difference between what is implied and what we infer harbours results that create alternative fictions and also potential sources of contention.
Museum Island and the Kulturforum represent microcosms of Berlin’s unique condition of duplicated spaces; two Berlins each with its own architectural language, a consequence of the division the Wall imposed.
If we acquiesce that architectural composition is constituted from a canon of predetermined elemental possibilities, their manipulation, as representational forms, becomes one of preference of the zeitgeist. Since reunification, some citizens want a new identity embodied within a new architecture, whilst some favour the rebuilding of the lost; a key example of this is the proposed re-creation of the Berliner Stadtschloss. However, is this attempt to recapture a lost epoch and its set of values achievable?
In order to investigate these questions, one million safety storage boxes would be issued to the citizens of Berlin. Each box, the volume of a person, is obtained at birth and allows the individual to deposit objects throughout their lifetime. In doing so the self is projected onto the objects, transforming them into semiotic signs that trace human lives. The perceived value of each object continuously alters as a consequence of the ever changing epoch. On mass the collection of objects can be mapped and interpreted over time, giving an insight into the lives of individuals and the life of the city; the Zeitgeist of Berlin.
Thus the architecture created acts as a vessel in which a sequence of speculative events can occur; a framework whose scale and density is composed by the participation of the city’s inhabitants. A series of celebrated journeys are expressed through a sequence of mechanised events, the spectacle of which spills over, back into the motion of human life. Helping to map the alteration of semantic values instilled within objects by their proprietors and their subsequent morphology over time, to investigate whether original values can ever be recaptured?