The Berlin CirclePhotography as space structuring

Le cercle de Berlin – The Berlin Circle

In the centre of Berlin stands the Brandenburg Gate, built by Carl Gotthard Langhans between 1788 and 1791. This building has played in important role in German history through its different symbolic functions. It is here that the Nazi regime celebrated its seizure of power on January 30, 1933. After World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was the only surviving building in Paris square. Situated in the middle of the no-go area between East Berlin and West Berlin, it symbolized the cold war and the division of Europe until December 22, 1989, when it became once again a place of passage. Today, the Brandenburg Gate has an elegant and metropolitan architecture and symbolizes the newCentre of Germany, after the reunification of Eastern and Western Europe. This highly symbolic monument is the centre of “The Berlin Circle” project. In this project, an imaginary radius is drawn from the Brandenburg Gate to the town of the same name, situated 57 km from the monument. If “the Gate” is a symbol of profound historic change, the town of Brandenburg is itself marked by the turbulences of modern history. That is the framework. An area of 358 km delineates a periphery with the New Berlin at its centre. It is not a suburb of great oppressive estates, of urban sprawl, but a landscape deserted by man. This space contains exceptional historic and cultural markers, but also darker places. For example, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp falls within this fictional circle, as do old socialist industrial estates and military no-go areas. The architectural and urban landscape still bears the scars of this painful past. In this project, which took place over the summer of 2006, we identified buildings and houses earmarked for destruction, together with architectures “dreaming of a future”. Within the circumference of “The Berlin Circle”, you experience emptiness and abandonment. The space conveys a sense of loneliness and a certain skepticism. Silence reigns. Especially where people live. The project treks across the Brandenburg March in search of forgotten architecture and abandoned spaces. Every photo is marked with its GPS coordinates. Each image is classifiable and at the same time lost in the anonymity of satellite positioning, in which the peripheries of the big cities dissolve and fade.

La revue de l’école d’architecture de Versailles

eaV – numéro 13, 2007/2008

Directeur de publication : Nicolas Michelin, Chargés d’édition : Anne-Marie Châtelet, Michel Denès

20 euros – ISBN : 978-2-91545635-6

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