Lecture & Talk

ARCH+ Feature

Dare to be big! On the future of the ICC

By opening and filling the ICC with the programme for ‘The Sun Machine Is Coming Down’ visitors will experience physically what might be possible in this building that has been the subject of controversy for many years. As a magazine for discourse in the fields of architecture and urbanism, ARCH+ wants to use this space of possibilities in order to advance arguments in the search for its prospective future. What function can this architecture have for Berlin and how can civic society reclaim it for itself in order to have a say in its future?

A computer-generated image of the high tech building International Congress Centre (ICC) combined with a “ARCH+ feature” lettering.

Montage: ARCH+ Feature, Visual “The Sun Machine Is Coming Down”: Visual concept and motion design: Eps51, CGI: bus.group

The ICC is generally talked about as being hi-tech architecture. But what does that mean, and what guiding principles for this discussion did the architectural historian Bruno Schindler describe here in ARCH+ No. 89 "Schauplätze der Macht" from the year 1987: these examples of architecture “show everyone quite clearly what essentially matters: reclaiming a credible architecture parlante by placing a building’s necessary features on the outside and using the space that is made free inside it for euphoric introversion.” (p. 68)

The ICC can therefore be understood as a form of speaking architecture – one that from today’s viewpoint demonstrates less a faith in technology than the dependence of such large-scale structures on equipment and installations, in other words: their vulnerability. Finding a balance between this critical content with the ICC’s future potential is the task that faces us. Can we reactivate this space “of euphoric introversion” for civic society?

The guests: the curator Oliver Elser from the German Architecture Museum will ground the discussion in the specific construction history of the site and within the over-arching re-evaluation of post-war modernism, and of brutalism and hi-tech architecture in particular. What significance does size have in terms of Rem Koolhaas’s “bigness”? The cultural scholar Thomas Flierl will not only contribute his expertise on the architectural and urban history of the GDR and the East in general, but as a former Berlin Culture Senator he can connect the architectural debate about the ICC to political discourse. The architect Regine Leibinger / Barkow Leibinger has thought about the future of the ICC on an architectonic level as part of design studios with her students and will present these for discussion. The architect Frauke Gerstenberg of the collective raumlaborberlin will put forward the Haus der Statistik project (in whose reclamation raumlabor played a significant role as part of a broader initiative) as a model that offers a view of how one might approach the ICC. How can a process of this kind, that activates and includes civic society and for which raumlabor were awarded the Golden Lion at this year’s Architecture Biennale, also be successful here? The panel will be chaired by Anh-Linh Ngo, Editor in Chief of ARCH+.