Open spaces - blank pages

University essay from Konstfack/Ädellab/Metallformgivning

Author: Emely Ahlsén; [2008]

Keywords: Ruiner; Husfasader; offentliga byggnader;


I stand in front of the remnants of a building. Braces and beams create a silhouette against the sky. The walls and roof are missing, but the windows remain, and the sheet metal doors. The structure frames the emptiness. This former building became a metaphor for man. Vulnerable in the face of a sudden turn of events, we lack protection against the world around us. Only our skeleton, muscles and naked skin hold us together. And just as eyes are said to reflect the soul, the leftover windows provide a hint of the former building’s life. The windows became the key to this building’s history. We are dependent on our buildings, just as the buildings are dependent upon us. In times of change, our social structures support us. Our life cycles are the course of events that allow us to move on, change, and be unique. Marks are left with the passage of time. Facades can be open, opened, forced, closed, covered, empty, or ready to be filled. Facades can be the time that passes. We are facades in transition, but stable in our foundations.Nothing is really alive until there is something missing, and the opportunity to place ourselves into a context arises. And in that aspect, the emptiness following the fall of the Twin Towers is therefore more telling than the buildings themselves.Everything we see in a building tells a story. In this essay, the story of Berlin’s House of Parliament is told. I reflect on how man mirrors his present in a building that is in a process of transition and how we are forced to confront ourselves with its history. I consider how a new dimension is created when something is opened, handing over the inside to reveal its past. How time can alter a symbol’s meaning. Today the dome on the House of Parliament represents democracy, as opposed to one hundred years ago, when it stood for power.Facades are in constant change.Does a facade need to be affected by transformation, deconstruction and destruction so that we can understand its whole, or are there other ways to penetrate its surface? Is the structure’s ability to evolve andadapt that which fascinates us and allows us to see its possibilities?Both man and building need “change” in order to illustrate their past and interpret their present. This is most apparent in the moment that the "facade cracks". In the vacuum that is created, it becomes obvious that the present is not forever. To exist in the present, is to be in a state of change.

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