The International Architecture Forum 2002 was a success for Stuttgart!
The presentations are available in the Internet in German
75 years, almost to the day, after the completion of the Weissenhof housing estate and the opening of the German Werkbund exhibition in 1927, the State Capital of Stuttgart and the Wüstenrot Foundation were host to an International Architecture Forum. This anniversary of one of the most important monuments of Modernist architecture provided an occasion for consideration of the roots, visions and development lines of Modernist architecture.
635 participants came to Stuttgart for this event, including guests not only from all over Germany, but from all around the world, from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro. This made the event, which was integrated as a pre-conference into the XXI World Architecture Congress in Berlin, an international meeting-point for all those who concern themselves with architecture. For three days, from 19 to 21 July, 2002, presentations from international contributors, together with supporting events, offered an extensive and packed programme. The architecture critic Amba Sayah spoke in her report in the Stuttgarter Zeitung of a "conference as concentrated as it was concise", accurately characterising the content and atmosphere.
The welcoming speeches by Lord Mayor Dr. Wolfgang Schuster, Dr. Wolfgang Bollacher, Chairman of the Wüstenrot Foundation and Prof. Rainer Zinsmeister, Stuttgart, emphasised the obligation to preserve the legacy of Modernist architecture and to make experience gained useful in meeting the challenges of today´s urban architecture.
The architectural inheritance of Modernist architecture - ideas, experience, trends
The first day of the event addressed the architectural inheritance of Modernist architecture and the place in architectural history of the Weissenhof housing estate from various points of view. Jean-Louis Cohen, Paris, described the launch into Modernism around 1925 in various countries. Karin Kirsch, Stuttgart, contrasted Traditionalism and Modernism in Stuttgart. Norbert Huse, Munich, reported on the still new area of preservation of the epoch-making buildings of Modernist architecture.
A second cycle of presentations was dedicated to the experience of contemporary architects, their biographies and their debt to the architecture of Modernism. First, Werner Durth, Darmstadt, gave an overview of trends in Modernism and pointed up various positions. Developments after WWII were brought to life by personally coloured contributions from Günter Behnisch, Stuttgart, Dietmar Eberle, Zürich and Matthias Sauerbruch, Berlin. Paul Kahlfeldt, Berlin provided a counterpoint.
A parallel event dealt with the current circumstances of historical preservation of Modernist buildings. Four project reports, from Helge Pitz, Berlin, Simone Hain, Hamburg, Winfried Brenne, Berlin, Joris Molenaar, Delft and Bertholt Burkhardt, Braunschweig described the refurbishment of outstanding buildings of Modernist architecture: the Einstein tower in Potsdam (Mendelsohn), Tugendhat house, Brünn (Mies van der Rohe), Meisterhaus Muche/Schlemmer in Dessau (Gropius) and Sonneveld House, Rotterdam (Brinkmann/Van der Vlugt).
Future of the city - challenges and opportunities
On the second day, the focus was on the urban architecture dimension of Modernism. Taking criticism of the unhealthy metropolises of the 19th century as a starting point, Franz Pesch, Stuttgart, scrutinised critically the housing estate models of the 20´s, and their relevance for the city in the 21st century. Kees Christiaanse, Rotterdam, presented new concepts from Holland of dense urban population while Marc Angélil, Zürich/Los Angeles, took up the theme of urban entropy in rampantly rhizome-like metropolis structures. As replacement for Oriol Bohigas, Barcelona, who was unfortunately unable to participate due to illness, the organisers were able to secure Jury P. Volchok, Moskau, at short notice as "surprise guest", who spoke on the avant-garde architecture of Moscow and the problems of its preservation. The expert presentations were considered in more depth in discussion rounds, moderated by Hanno Rauterberg, Hamburg, Ira Mazzoni, München and Peter Conradi, Stuttgart.
Architectural excursions and supporting programme
The third day offered the opportunity to become familiar with the history of architecture in Baden-Württemberg in five excursions. Excursion 1 concentrated on Günter Behnisch´s work in the Stuttgart area. Excursion 2 presented new technologies in connection with unused existing buildings, with the Centre for Art and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe and the European Media and the Event Academy in Baden-Baden. Excursion 3 dealt with the large-area conversions on former military sites in Ostfildern and Tübingen. Excursion 4 focused on important civil engineering works and innovations in light-weight construction. Finally, excursion 5 was dedicated to a tour of panoramic views from the hills surrounding Stuttgart and the special topography of the conference location.
This technical programme was integrated into a range of supporting events. On 18 July, 2002, an exhibition on the Weissenhof housing estate was opened in the Stuttgart City Gallery, to great public interest. It remained open until 6 October, 2002, and constituted the first large-scale presentation of the Weissenhof housing estate for a broad public. On 19 October, 2002, participants in the congress were able as part of a reception to view the whole of James Stirling and Michael Wilford´s building complex shortly before its completion. As well as the completed part, including the New State Gallery and the first phase of the College of Music, construction site visits were possible to the second phase of the College, the History House (Wilford/Schupp Architects) and the extensions to the Old State Gallery (Steib Architects). The Congress programme was rounded off with the convivial party of the Baden-Württemberg Chamber of Architects in the Zeppelin-Carré, a trend-setting urban renewal project near the central station.