The Flower Shop in Oberbarmen - Wuppertal - Germany
A shrinking city becomes an instruction manual for the potential of built architecture. Specific everyday places are discovered and explored. What happens when we rethink and develop the dense layers of the established and quotidian?
In 2008 and 2009, Jörg Leeser and Urs Füssler organized two classes at the Department for Bauen im Bestand [Building within Existing Structures] at the University of Wuppertal: “Findlinge” [Erratics] and a studio project called “Dramatyp” [Dramatype]. In April 2011, in conversation with the magazine Candide: Journal for Architectural Knowledge, they explained their teaching approach and how the existing buildings serve as the basis of their “elaboration” and “refashioning” of the city.
The act of seeing was a central aspect addressed in both courses: “To superimpose the perceptible reality of a place with its own idea of a possibility of this place”. This “looking” is constructive, an integral part of the design process, which focused less on the insertion of new buildings than on the transformation of the existing structures. In this sense it is not “building within existing structures”, but “building with existing structures”. The students developed possible use scenarios with fictional clients for a post-industrial, shrinking city – which became all the more endearing, the more problem areas were discovered.