IBA SOCIAL HOUSING
Location: Berlin, West Germany
Proceeding without nostalgia or sentimentality, the project involves both making and unmaking previous hierarchies through a process of artificial excavation, superimposition, and substitution. The ground becomes an archeological site. The absent city wall of the eighteenth century, the foundation walls of the nineteenth century, the remnants of the twentieth-century grid as projected in the vertical walls of the existing buildings, and the Berlin Wall form a nexus of walls at different levels, which become a composite datum of memory. The Mercator Grid is superimposed as a second set of walls upon and among the historical walls. These artificial or “neutral” walls begin to erase the physical presence of the historical walls. It also renders them inaccessible by causing the ground plane to become deeply eroded; the ground now becomes a figure of its own history. The horizontal wrenching apart of the site leaves a gap between the site and the Wall. The vertical “wracking” of the site reveals the old Berlin grid. The walls of the Mercator Grid become the new horizontal datum: formerly man walked on the ground; now he walks on the walls. Equal in height to the Berlin Wall, they reduce its physical and symbolic presence to that of merely “another” wall in a city of walls.