Inside the Density of G. B. Piranesi's Ichnographia Campus Martius
reenactment architectures 10.3
reenact 2 : to act or perform again
In conjunction with my "Inside the Density..." paper for Belgium, I will compile a list that further reflects my thinking vis-ŗ-vis the next urban (architectural) paradigm being cities (and architecture) as reŽnactments (sometimes even of themselves):
1. Schinkel's Altes Museum
2. Le Corbusier's Palais des CongrŤs ŗ Strasbourg as reenactment of the Villa Savoye
3. Philadelphia's museum complex atop Fairmount as a reenactment of the Athenian Acropolis
4. Philadelphia's Logan Circle as a reenactment of the Place de la Concorde, Paris
5. Hadrian's Villa
6. Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown's Franklin Court and Welcome Park, Philadelphia
7. Louis Kahn's reenactment of the Ichnographia Campus Martius
8. Las Vegas
9. the Disney Lands
10. Ludwig II of Bavaria's Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee
11. James Stirling's reenactments of Schinkel's Altes Museum
12. New Urbanism's reenactment of Fascist town planning
13. Collage City
14. "The Arbors of Arbor Street"
15. Ichnographia Ottopia
16. India as a reŽnactment of Africa
as dense as architecture can get?
The last paper of the "Thinking Density" session at Inside Density was presented by Kai Vöckler (a kind of new universal man from Berlin -- architect, painter, writer, publisher) and entitled "Monument of density: Albert Speer's 'Grosbelastungskörper'". This Grossbelastungskörper was the punctuation point for both of Inside Density's days--Kai's presentation was the last on Thursday, and Mark Wigley incorporated the Grossbelastungskörper into the conclusion of his keynote address which ended the colloquium on Friday.
The Grossbelastungkörper is this enormous solid concrete cylinder about 4 stories high with a diameter about four times its height. It sits in Berlin along the middle of what was to be the great north-south axis of Speer's Third Reich plan for Berlin. The Grossbelastungkörper was actually a 'structural' test to see if the ground in that part of Berlin could withstand the weight of the enormous triumphal arch proposed for the midpoint of the grand axis. This thing, which is best described in terms of its present context as something that is just there without being able to be gotten rid of, weighs 152,000 tons, and, albeit only slightly, measurably sinks as each year goes by. When all the presenters of "Thinking Density" were together on stage, I referred to the Grossbelastungskörper as this great inverted monument, in that, as big and impossible to remove as it is, it's now just a big nothing representing an even bigger [architectural] non-event.
That night I found my self wondering, given it current rate of sinkage, how many years it would take this thing to reach the Earth's core. Of course, I quickly realized that the geological/physical changes this thing would go through as it sunk deeper over time meant it would never actually reach the core in one piece, if at all. So I limited my speculating to wondering how many years it would take for the top of the Grossbelastungskörper to become even with Berlin's ground plane.
Perhaps the Grossbelastungskörper is precisely the design that proves something in that it is a big something that proves the eventual existence of the big nothing.