ARCH+ features 15: Arno Brandlhuber and June 14
Arno Brandlhuber describes the St. Agnes Church Centre which he converted together with June 14 – Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge & Sam Chermayeff – for gallery owner Johann König as an "extremely successful complex". The two architectural bureaus staged a presentation of the sympathetic building complex renovation project in the Church's community centre. At the same time, the architects talked to the editors of ARCH+ about forms of living in the urban context. Quoting the example of Tokyo, where Meyer-Grohbrügge and Chermayeff lived in Ryue Nishizawa's Moriyama House, the discussion dealt with the transformation in the relationship between inside and outside and the on-going renegotiation of boundaries.

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The St. Agnes Church Centre completed in 1967 in Berlin-Kreuzberg was constructed according to plans by Werner Düttmann and can be seen as a typical product of the Brutalism movement. A variety of functions are grouped around an inner courtyard. The central space is the church's impressive nave, the future exhibition room. Its walls are finished in the same rough rendering as the outer facade. Brandlhuber did nothing to change the characteristic roughness of the building. His intervention in the church nave is "relatively sensitive although optically drastic": Inside, Brandlhuber brings in what he calls a "table" precisely at the same height as the former chancel. Beneath it is the show location, above it the gallery space. By dividing the space, the "Godly, upward-looking perspective is turned into a horizontal, almost square perspective," comments Brandlhuber. June 14 turned the inner courtyard into a "much cuter form" as the new spiritual centre of St. Agnes.
Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge and Sam Chermayeff entitled their contribution on life in Ryue Nishizawa's Moriyama House in Tokyo "Negotiating boundaries". It was here that the two of them worked for SANAA. Moriyama House distributes its functionality across different structures, while dispensing with a focal centre point and clear demarcation from its environment. As they explained: "Using the house as a tool, we had to mediate the relationship to the outside and to each other. It acts as a catalyst between things and people". The enclosed character of rooms here in our culture is the culmination of a process of historic evolution, not their purpose, according to Meyer-Grohbrügge and Chermayeff, who clearly recognized a need for new residential models in Europe too: "Architecture can offer opportunities instead of being a sealed enclosure."
Blurring the boundaries: "We did weird things like sleeping with the door open to the street, turning it into part of our bedroom… The other neighbours who were also part of our world did the same thing."

According to Nikolaus Kuhnert, different forms of living and life in Tokyo are typical of a culture which embraces external influences and develops them into something else. The rapidly transforming construction methods used in Tokyo, where a building is replaced on average after 26 years, provides a number of interesting avenues of thought for European building culture: According to Ngo, there is a "primitive future" in store, as to date improved technology in buildings has meant that ever more and advanced technology is required – which has to be a finite process. Kuhnert describes the process of moving living functions outside of the home as "heuristic functionalism", which will lead to a "culture of access": Not everybody will need to own everything themselves. Instead, collaborative utilization will increase. This applies increasingly to spaces too.
Kuhnert presents the example of the "Antivilla" from Arno Brandlhuber in Krampnitz near Potsdam to illustrate new forms of flexibility. The overall building is broken down by Brandlhuber into different climate zones with a warm core in the centre and increasing exposure towards the outside. "A focal question is whether we need to go on producing everything always under the same conditions", says Brandlhuber. He proposes a different model: In winter, only the warm core of the building is lived in. As the environment begins to heat up increasingly, the living area extends out towards the peripheral areas. The building and its environment enter into a differentiated relationship.
The spirit of the sixties: The St. Agnes community room.
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