Arno Brandlhuber’s intervention at the Berlinische Galerie was devised together with fellow architect Florian Hertweck and graphic designer Thomas Mayfried. The exhibition takes its cue from a book published at the same time, The Dialogic City: Berlin wird Berlin, with the display spaces echoing its seven chapters. Several thousand copies of the book stacked make a dazzling metallic wall and visitors are able to take a copy free of charge upon request.
Beginning from the principle expounded by the French philosopher Edgar Morin, who proposed that contradictions should be allowed to express themselves and to interact productively, Berlin – with its own history of division – is revisited as a city. The chapter Fiction & Reality addresses the role of the Berlinsche Galerie as the public architecture museum for the State of Berlin and its task of looking after the documents and models generated by architectural competitions in the city. By bringing in models from the depot to the exhibition venue, they are entered in the museum’s database before the visitor’s eyes, revealing a crucial aspect to the museum’s work which othewise is normally hidden from public viewing.
The exhibition allows us to not only imagine an alternative Berlin by reconstruction these competition entries; but they also illustrate a history of ideas that continues in unmaterialised form and can serve as an inspiration for today’s debates about the city. The models, along with a most thoughtful collection of architectural thoughts and beautiful drawings made for my favourite exhibition from the week. Not to mention how delighted I was when I later saw my freebie selling for 20 euros in a bookstore.