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B12 Baumeister: Curated by David Chipperfield

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“Curating a BAUMEISTER issue brings us closer to understanding who we are.” 
David Chipperfield in an interview with Baumeister about the curated issue.

David Chipperfield is one of the true greats of the international architecture scene. The British architect has had building projects around the world — above all in Germany. His most important work includes the restoration of the Neues Museum and the James-Simon-Gallerie, the new entrance building to the Museum Island in Berlin.

In their curated issue of Baumeister, David Chipperfield and his colleague Alexander Schwarz discuss Gottfried Semper’s theory of Stoffwechsel. They explore the origins and cultural background of forms, along with the issues related to finding forms during the design process. David Chipperfield Architects also provide insights into their working methods and use architectural references to reflect on their own creations. In addition, David Chipperfield and Alexander Schwarz illustrate the creation of the James-Simon-Gallerie in an exclusive photo series.

Contents, Baumeister B12/2016 curated by David Chipperfield Architects

Profile: David Chipperfield

Sir David Chipperfield CBE, RA, RDI, RIBA, BDA

born in 1953 in London, Great Britain

David Chipperfield founded David Chipperfield Architects in 1985. He is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of German Architects (BDA). In 2004 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), and in 2009 was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2010, Chipperfield was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to architecture in Great Britain and Germany. He was the curator of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale and has received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for architecture and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association — both awards in recognition of his life’s work.

One of his most recent projects has been the James-Simon-Gallerie on Berlin’s Museum Island, whose construction is now complete and which was handed over to the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin during an official ceremony on 13 December 2018.

Portrait photo David Chipperfield: Ute Zscharnt

Profile: Alexander Schwarz

Alexander Schwarz, architect
Partner, Design Director, David Chipperfield Architects Berlin

born in 1967 in Ludwigsburg, Germany 

Alexander Schwarz studied architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and the University of Stuttgart after completing an apprenticeship as a violin maker. He has worked for David Chipperfield Architects since 1996. In 2006 he became a managing director and in 2011 a partner.

As Design Director, Alexander Schwarz is responsible for the design for numerous projects and competitions, including the Neues Museum and the James-Simon-Gallerie on the Museum Island in Berlin. In 2015 he took over the chair of the Institute of Public Building and Design at the University of Stuttgart.

Portrait photo Alexander Schwarz: Ute Zscharnt

Extract of the interview with David Chipperfield and Alexander Schwarz

Baumeister: Mr. Chipperfield, Mr. Schwarz, curating a magazine – what kind of experience is that for you as architects?

David Chipperfield: In our architectural work, two modes of production always run parallel. On the one hand, we are simply professionals. We perform to clients, keep deadlines, and so on. But then, there is another level on which we work. This is about creating a reflective environment for ourselves. It means constantly considering what we are doing. We have a responsibility to our intellectual ambitions. This does not come natural. In architecture, your own theoretical framework has to be created. Doing an issue of a magazine can help us do that. In this sense, curating a Baumeister issue brings us closer to understanding who we are.

Baumeister: Self-questioning as mode of existence?

David Chipperfield: Yes. You have to constantly check yourself. We try to initiate discomfort for ourselves. As an architect, if you want to be good, you have to work without and with doubt at the same time. In this sense, this magazine issue is an operation to collect thoughts and to deliberately create this level of discomfort, similar to when I directed the Venice Biennale four years ago.

Alexander Schwarz: What is interesting is the openness. From the beginning, we were very open as to where this cooperation would lead to. We can be in this position because we are doing this as dilettantes. As an architect, you feel responsible for your projects and clients, which takes away some playfulness. Working on a magazine, we can act more playfully.

Baumeister: Is there a basis for your design convictions?

David Chipperfield: Essentially, we often start with the physicality of architecture, its haptic, physical qualities. This point of orientation got lost during modernism and throughout postmodernism. During that time, it was difficult to talk about architectural style in England, especially with Prince Charles. But you could talk about material. This is what we did, like a poet reflecting on words.

Baumeister: Do broader audiences understand this approach?

David Chipperfield: Not always. It is a demanding approach, because it tends to collide with the market and the economic imperatives of the construction industry. It is a bit like with food. There is more synthetic food than ever in the world. But more and more people want real food. In food as in architecture, there is a need and a willingness to engage with materials.

The complete interview can be found in Baumeister 12/16, starting on page 70.

David Chipperfield at the Baumeister editorial office discussing concepts for the magazine. (Photo: Friederike Voigt)

David Chipperfield and Alexander Schwarz in conversation with Baumeister editor Alexander Russ and Baumeister Editor-in-Chief Alexander Gutzmer. (Photo: Friederike Voigt)

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