It was a cool autumnal day when I toured the Mies van der Rohe House Lemke and its courtyard garden. On the banks of Obersee, about 10km north-east from the city centre, the brick house was completed in 1933, whilst Mies was director of the Bauhaus, for a couple, Karl and Martha Lemke and their small family. They lived there until 1945 when the Soviet army gained control of east Germany and they were forced to leave their home.
The house fell into disrepair over the years and then in 1977 it was put under state protection but it was not until 2000 that extensive renovations began in earnest, a lot of the brickwork around the windows and the corner facades had to be replaced.
The house is a simple L-shape single storey courtyard house with a very uncomplicated floorplan. It demonstrates the many design ideas we know to be typical of Mies’ buildings, unfussy fenestration and facade treatments and detailed to make the most of the materials.
The house wraps around a tree in the courtyard which opens out from the living spaces. The house provides views into the garden and a view down to the lake from the main bedroom. The simplicity in the materiality and detailing creates a serene residence sitting within a still and lush suburban garden.
At the time of my visit was an exhibition titled Dekor und Deformation showing the work of glass sculptor, Julius Weiland. The minimalism of the glass pieces was in harmony with the architecture of the house.
I spent 100 days of those 6 months sketching the city, thanks to the lovely Katherine Geppert, who suggested a group of us try out the Instagram 100 Day Project. Armed with a notebook and pencil I sketched urban scenes from October through to January.
As well as being a good reason to explore the city, practising my sketching was another thing on my to-do list. What I’ve learned from the 100 days is definitely practise, practise, practise. I might compare some sketching in the summer to see how different the urban scenes would be.
After a three year hiatus from this blog it’s probably a good time to start this whole wandering architects endeavour again since Tim, Edie and I have moved to a new city. It’s now been 6 months living in Berlin, most of it feeling homesick for Glasgow where we’ve left some wonderful friends and a three-quarter renovated flat. We’ve also spent the time making this new city our new home; learning a new language and exploring the many wonders this energetic and complex city has to offer. It’s been exploring architecture, history, public transportation, play parks, city parks, cafe culture, bar culture (not so much these days), markets, museums, galleries, and so forth.
6 months and I’ve barely covered any great breadth of this city. I guess starting this blog up again would ensure I made a concerted effort to get my arse out of P-berg and see parts of Berlin I haven’t seen before.
Exhibited at Loop – a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day
The recognition of 100 significant female architects. How many [female] architects can you name?
E-1027 is a modernist house that sits on the edge of the sea in Roquebrune Cap-Martin, France; completed in 1929, up until recently its design was attributed to Jean Badovici, a contemporary and friend of Le Corbusier. In actual fact the house was predominantly the work of Eileen Gray, his partner at the time. Gray was generally more renown for her furniture design, less known for her contribution to architecture. This is not an isolated incident – female architects often struggle for recognition and commissions within the industry.
Architecture as a profession has been around for centuries however women have only been allowed to practice architecture for less than a century. Following the passing of the 1919 Sex Discrimination Act women were first allowed to become architects. Prior to that women had found it necessary to practice in secret, as was the case with Elizabeth Wilbraham (1632-1705) who may have designed many notable buildings in the seventeenth century but without the records to establish proper attribution for her designs, her name lies in obscurity. Even the Bauhaus design school which was reputed for it’s forward thinking and embracing of modern ideas still would not admit women into it’s architecture school when opened in 1927. The school had defined roles for the “beautiful sex” most female students restricted to the textile crafts, few permitted into sculpture or other areas deemed for the “stronger sex”.
Women are now able to make a name for themselves in architecture these days, and the recognition of their contribution increasing with high profile names such as Zaha Hadid and Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA. However inequalities do exist in the architectural profession today, and it is still regarded as a male dominated profession, with very few women reaching high managerial roles, the glass ceiling within the profession is still a serious concern. Studies have shown the number of women that stay in architecture are relatively low. Women make up 38% of the architectural student population however only 13% of the practicing profession. The long hours and family commitments, and general pressures of a “macho” industry are considered to be reasons for the lack of progression of women architects. This work acknowledges the numerous women and their contribution to the built environment, not satisfied in just taking up the traditional crafts.
D-Day is approaching rapidly, knitting is popping up in all sorts of unexpected places across Glasgow , and indeed the world.
My work – one of the 100 events showcased at Loop at the Tramway on the 8th of March is getting there if a little behind schedule – knitting machines are complex beast and Hermione and I are only just getting to know each other properly 😉
We managed to squeeze in quite a few trips to Edinburgh to catch the festival action this year. A lot of our interest centred on the visual arts, including a visit to the newly opened though somewhat underwhelming Jupiter Artland.
The highlight was a performance by the Royal Ballet of Flanders of Return of Ulysses which was mesmerizing, powerful yet stark. Scottish enfant terrible Michael Clark’s New Work – was suitably mad yet lack coherence and felt forced and overly stylised.
As per usual most fringe acts didn’t seem worth the entry price although Kristen Schaal of Flight of the Conchords fame was quite entertaining!
Our good friend Debbie Andrews had a reading as part of the launch of Volume 1 of the not very imaginatively titled Brown Williams Journal: Triangle. Held at Kibble Palace on a warm evening it was a delightful atmosphere with some good writing and a slightly cheesy band. Overall we were definitly left with impression that writers need to get out more!