Spherical projection

Spherical projection

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BERLIN HIMMELPLATZ

2009

Inspired by the flattened historical perspective of ostalgie, this project looks back to forms of spatiality developed under the Eastern Bloc which have since been abandoned as useful design paradigms. Specifically, it revives an excess of unaccounted space – typified by communist parade grounds, monuments and palaces, where space was scaled to the mass rather than the individual – to propose that this form of spatiality could have new relevance for democratic capitalist programs today.

The design relocates the Neubabelsberg Film Studios to the center of Berlin to bring production back to a site suffering from cultural over-exposure. By integrating the studios with a vast public plaza, new possibilities for experimental media and public participation emerge. Public plaza and back lot become one and the same. The location provides film makers with a readily available supply of backdrops (cropped views to different parts of the city) and unpredictable extras, while the expansive blank field of the plaza encourages a new subject: a spectator-producer, someone who produces and consumes content in a continuous feedback loop.

Unlike Schinkel’s Altes Museum next door, the plaza’s bowl shape forms a non-panorama: it elevates the horizon, blocking out the immediate context and scale while producing a spatially expansive field of vision by juxtaposing much larger elements: the vast concrete basin below and the open sky above. The city is shut out acoustically, visually and historically, leaving an intense focus on movements and actions of people on the surface. The multiple valleys within the plaza create the possibility for disparate simultaneous attractions. These centers are eroded from below and connected to the exterior by cavernous vomitoria, which immediately immerse the new visitor in an expansive field of activity. The elements of distraction that form the plaza require a more extreme peripheral emphasis – a constant awareness and reading of other possible locations for action.

Spherical projections are an experimental technique for this new mode of peripheral viewing. They are synchronic views that are inherently a collection of multiple perspectives over time. They collapse plan, elevation and perspective into a single drawing by looking everywhere at once. Likewise the project, in its manifold mechanisms of representation, becomes a screen for a continual projection of public desires through an excessive multiplication of reality.