Mass, Public Space, and Response: Berlin Workshop

By Margarita McGrath and Catherine Ludwig.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We will present student work from a brief workshop held in Berlin in early March, 2010 which sought to make visual the movement of people in space. The workshop was led by a multi-media artist and her architectural photographer partner, and organized by an architect/educator. Participants included graduate and undergraduate architecture students, an industrial design student, two international art and design students and a political scientist.

The proposition given to the students was to capture how people behave in public spaces; the on-site challenge was that it was -4 degrees Celsius. Working together over four days (one of which was a seminar), five groups documented occupations on sites in Berlin ranging from the new main Bahnhof to the Holocaust Memorial. Most of the work was surprisingly site specific: neither generic nor transferable to another city. Certainly a portion of the specificity has to do with the memory of this place in history. Nevertheless, time constraints compelled these pieces to be improvised directly on site as “practices” rather than as concepts planned and deployed from the studio. What resulted was a poignant portrait of Berlin in use as a contemporary habitat, and how that habitat configures its users.

Keywords: Form and Function in Space, Tracking Movement, Photography, Design Pedagogy, Habitats

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.205-218. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.176MB).

Margarita McGrath

Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Design, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

Traveling and working abroad have defined Margarita’s professional career. She completed her internship and worked as a project architect at various firms including Cesar Pelli and Associates (now Pelli Clarke Pelli), Atelier Hermann Czech, and Junglim Architects. Her first teaching position was at Kyonggi University, in Seoul. Margarita has given lectures, workshops and served as a visiting critic at institutions in the States and internationally. Her shared practice (with Scott Oliver), noroof architects, has received community, national and international recognition, including features in Sanctuary (2009), dwell (2009), wallpaper*(2008), the New York Times (2006), The New Modern House (Bell and Stathaki, 2010), Tiny (Zeiger, 2009), Brooklyn Modern (Lind, 2008), Contemporary Design in Detail: Small Environments (Chan, 2007) and numerous awards including two New York City AIA merit awards for design excellence. Current sponsored research includes participation on a multidisciplinary team to develop curriculum for teaching design in technology-laden environments, with specific emphasis on Human-Computer Interaction. Margarita holds an MArch II from UCLA, and a 5-year BArch from Rice. She is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture and Design at Virginia Tech.

Catherine Ludwig

Multi-Media Artist, Vienna, Austria

Catherine Ludwig was born in Bavaria. She studied communication design (FH) in Germany and transmedial art at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (Diploma–chair Professor Kowanz). Catherine has received prizes and participated in several exhibitions in Europe and Asia. Her interests are mainly exploring and “do-commenting” mass leisure-facilities and the dependence on the spatial structures and control mechanisms that impact leisure in public. Brief statement: “I am ‘docommenting’. I am not restricted to only one medium to express my ‘do-commentaries.’ Moreover, I am working intermedially–using the means of photography, conceptual painting, space, sound, video and slide installation.”