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Krespel Houses

An exhibition by AU Workshop

Opening: 13.04.2022. 6 pm

On view until: 20.05.2022.

In one of the short-stories by the AU Workshop, an architect and a chef sit by the table. According to the story, they were chatting over a steaming soup,made by the chef. It was cold outside, and they were surrounded by mountain peaks covered in snow. The chef was talking about how he made the soup, how the boiling water in the pot, a neutral base became a tasty dish. The architect inquired about the recipe, referring to the fact that he’s also working from plans. The Chef was unable to provide the recipe, in fact, he never had it, only the taste that has matured over the years, the seasoning that changed all the time during the cooking process. It made the architect wonder: as an architect, is it his goal to create only the frame (the pot and the neutral soup base), or, as the chef, does he have to season his buildings himself? The chef went back to the kitchen to work, while the architect was staring out of the window. He watched the mountains in the distance, and he had never seen the landscape so stunning before.

The mountain landscape was discovered and made a subject of literature and painting by the Romantic art? The peaks of the Alpes became the topos of the sublime, the dreaded and desired nature in the northern Romantic, in contrast to the ancient and mediterranean depictions of nature, discovered by European art during the grand tours.

The gaze composed a landscape from nature, turning it into a kind of emotional landscape, into which the subject escapes and leaves civilization, in order to meet with themselves. The mountains are sacred spaces in lots of cultures, as well as in the German Romantic. Based on their geographical position, their inhabitants were considered to be morally prominent, and the mountains are also closer to the sky. At the outbreak of World War I, German expressionist architect Bruno Taut, had rather weakened his body by starvation in order to avoid the call for military service. Locked up in loneliness from the war, he was working on his utopist architectural plans, which he called Alpine Architektur.

He designed a sacral, crystal-town in between the mountains of the Alps. The buildings were made of steel and glass, bursting from the ridges of the mountains, growing out of the slopes of the valleys. With the transparency given by the glass-architecture, he dissolves nature into space, primarily light and air. Taut immaterializes all those things, he was fed-up with in architecture: function and materialism. According to Taut’s pacifist vision, the inhabitants of the Crystal Town were living by elated, mystical principles.

He envisioned the undisturbed existence of a community, a new quality of life, which he manifested in thirty watercolor paintings. The short stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann were born when the alpine-themed paintings of his contemporary Caspar David Friedrich came into life. As the landscape forms according to the soul, the personality of Hoffmann’s characters reflect in the places around them. His literary spaces are atmospheric, they do not function as scenery, but as shapers of the emotional world of the story.

Architecture-theorist Anthony Vidler, who deals with the architectural concept of the unheimlich, assigns an emphasized role to Hoffmann, as an artist, who creates spaces as a writer. His short story, Councillor Krespel, starts with the building process of Krespel’s new house, which, due to the lack of plans, transforms during the process of the building. Councillor Krespel lives and dresses according to peculiar principles, and he instructs the workers, with whom he works on the construction site with impulsive, constantly evolving ideas.

He only determines the foundation and the materials used, besides that, the builders are given a free hand through the process. The construction takes place in a cheerful atmosphere, and in the end they create an unusual, asymmetric, yet homelike building.

In the short story Master Martin, the Cooper, and His Journeyman, the barrel maker of the medieval town of Nuremberg, the leader of guild, master Martin wonders about his craft during a dialogue. According to the master his buildings are inhabited by wine, the noblest substance risen from Earth, while the building created by the master is only man, who can either be good or bad.

What is spice in architecture, what provides a character to the building? The people, building and inhabiting the buildings, or the materials, from which they are composed?

text: Anna Zoldos

translation: Dóra Szüle

Contributors to the exhibition: Luca Radler, Lili Gárdos, Dorka Füleky, Vencel Kustra, Zsombor Tóth, Madli Kaljuste