Mar 16, 2007


March 2007
Pilotprojekt Gropiusstadt, Berlin

Over several decades, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the restructuring of social housing policies, the population of Gropiusstadt has varied greatly, both in numbers and diversity. Nowadays, Gropiusstadt accommodates an extensive immigrant community for whom Walter Gropius is probably just a random foreign name despite the fact that it can be found all over the neighborhood, from the fast food restaurant next to the Lipschitzallee subway station to the massive shopping center on the other end of the residential complex.

The proposal intends to question the overwhelming presence of Gropius in the neighborhood’s history and identity, even when his direct participation in the design of buildings was minimal and his relationship to the community who would later live there uncertain. At the time planning for Groupiusstadt began, Gropius had already relocated to the United States and passed away before the residential complex was built to completion.

Sitting atop one of the largest buildings in the area is an illuminated sign that reads GROPIUSHAUS. An oversized light switch would be installed in the street below it, each of its ends controlling the words GROPIUS and HAUS, allowing the public to switch on or off either of those words at discretion. By encouraging the public to interact with the sign, the project offers the possibility of conceiving, if only for a short while, a Stadt (city) or a Haus (house) of their own.