Zeche Zollverein, opened in Essen in 1932, Schupp & Kremer

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 5:30pm

Jaffe B-17

Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Professor of Art History, University College Dublin and Scully Visiting Professor, Yale University

"Remembering Modernism in Recent German Architecture: Berlin versus the Ruhrgebiet"

Since 1989 Berlin has served as the locus of discussions of memory in German architecture.  This ignores the degree to which memory has also been a key feature of architectural culture in the Ruhrgebiet.  In both areas, adaptive re-use has juxtaposed historic structures with infill inspired by the modern movement of the early twentieth century.  While in Berlin the point has usually been to commemorate the Holocaust or preserve the scars of war, in the Ruhrgebiet it has been to convert industrial into cultural infrastructure.  This glosses over the centrality of these sites to the Third Reich in the hope of reviving a rustbelt economy through marketing the region to buisness as well as to the tourists who are also a key audience for Berlin’s memoryscapes. Comparing the Landschaftspark in Duisburg and the Zeche Zollverein n Essen with the Reichstag, Neues Museum and Topography of Terror in Berlin nonetheless illustrates the similarity of means, if diversity of purposes, employed to construct contemporary German identity out of memories of modernism.