Friday, July 6, 2012

En Route

June 28-30, 2012.

My marathon land journey from Poland to the UK had three stops- in Berlin, Cologne, and Brussels.

Last time I was in Berlin I had avoided Daniel Liebeskind's Jewish Museum, thinking that his idiosyncratic style, which is easily recognizable no matter what the site, was an example of the gratuitous, textureless form-finding I am fighting against. This time, I went in, and I surprised myself by liking it. The muted expression of concrete feels very appropriate and respectful, a calm acknowledgement of a turbulent history.

Also in my wanderings around Berlin I visited the Chapel of Reconciliation by architects Reitermann and Sassenroth. The rammed-earth chapel is a wonderful space, bright and cool.

There were pieces of pottery and brick embedded in the layers. I had just visited the Berlin Wall memorial, right next to the chapel, and it made me wonder how much rubble from the site was used in its construction.

At 6:30am the following morning, after having slept fitfully on the night train, I marched across Kรถln with all my luggage just for a glimpse of one of my favourite buildings, the Kolumba museum by Peter Zumthor. I was rewarded by the sight and feel of the wall, still retaining the night's coolness, but lit by the early sunshine.

I wanted to give myself a break from brick, since for the past few months I have been living and dreaming (literally...) about brick, but it's a hard thing to escape from. In Brussels, there was a fair amount of red brick, alternating with a kind of stone, perhaps limestone, which is soft enough to cut easily.

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