Vol. 8, No. 2 (March 2004)    


___Ulrike Rose
___Ullrich Schwarz
  Moving towards a Federal Foundation for Building Culture



In spring 1999, the Bundesarchitektenkammer (Federal Chamber of Architects) and the Bund Deutscher Architekten (Federation of German Architects) proposed an “Initiative for Architecture and Building Culture”, which was launched by Mr. Klimmt, then Federal Housing Minister, in autumn 2000.

A steering committee consisting of representatives of the various chambers and associations, local authorities and Länder followed the development of the initiative and met regularly to exchange experiences.

A number of events were held under the heading “Building Culture Initiative”; these included the Architecture Quartet in Berlin, diverse exhibitions, symposia and congresses.

In spring 2002, the Federal Minister of Transport, Communication and Housing presented the first report on “Building Culture in Deutschland” by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gert Kähler, Hamburg.

The report analyses the current situation of building culture in Germany and makes concrete recommendations to the state, public and private clients, planners, the construction industry as well as schools and other educational establishments.

The Federal Government accepted the report and submitted it to the Bundes­tag. In summer 2002 and autumn 2003, parliament held a remarkably positive debate, which transcended all party differences, on the question of building culture.

The “Initiative for Building Culture” inspired the idea of establishing a Federal Foundation for Building Culture in order to focus more attention on building culture and give it more weight in public debate.

People often ask us whether we really need “another institution” in the form of a Federal Foundation for Building Culture.

The reply to this question at the Convent of Building Culture on 4 April 2003 was unequivocal:

“A Foundation for Building Culture cannot simply do what many others have been doing for ages now with great involvement and with no little degree of success.

A Foundation for Building Culture must do what nobody or no organisation has done or been able to do up to now.

The Foundation must be:

a seismograph,
an alarm signal,
a discussion-promoter,
a communicator – and perhaps even a troublemaker.

The crucial precondition for such an organisation is that it must be independent and maintain equal distance to all parties involved in building. Only in then will it be able to speak with its own voice and be taken seriously.”
(Ullrich Schwarz, 2003)

What will be the duties of the Foundation?

The Foundation’s work will be based on six instruments. It is not intended to function as a sponsor but, first and foremost, to promote communication.

The instruments of the projected Foundation for Building Culture are:

  1. The “Network Debate”: to provide a platform where all of the different establishments presenting architecture across Germany can exchange experiences and draw the public’s attention to interesting local and private initiatives.

  2. The “Report on the State of Building Culture”, drawn up by an independent council of experts. It advises the Federal Government on developing the general conditions for a building culture.

  3. A “Black-and-White Book”, penned by a number of independent authors. It is intended to present the quality criteria required by a building culture, to encourage debate and controversies, and to stimulate discussion.

  4. The competition “The Capital of Building Culture” is inspired by the popular European Cultural Capital and the German Garden Show. There is one difference, however: this competition aims to promote sustainable development for a specific city/region and to focus the public’s attention on building culture.

  5. The “Experiment in Building Culture” aims to promote exceptionally innovative building projects that will also attract attention internationally. Among other things, it is intended to stimulate research and experimental town development. One example is Jörg Schlaich’s solar tower.

  6. The “Building Culture Quality Offensive” aims to draw greater attention internationally to planning and building achievements here in Germany, e.g. through exhibitions or contributions at the Architectural Biennial in Venice.

Who supports the establishment of the Foundation?

The development of the Foundation is financed from project grants from the Federal Ministry of Transport, Communication and Housing, grants from Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Verbände der Planer und Architekten (Federation of Planners’ and Architects’ Associations) and from membership fees of the sponsoring organisation.

Peter Conradi, President of the Federal Chamber of Architects, Karl Heinrich Schwinn, President of the Bundesingenieurkammer (Chamber of Engineers), Achim Großmann, parliamentary undersecretary at Ministry of Minister of Transport, Communication and Housing and Karl Ganser, the former director of IBA Emscher Park will be presenting the Foundation and assuming responsibility for promoting the project.

The presenters will be supported by a “circle of founders”, comprising 125 people who came together to discuss the main content of the Foundation in 2002 and sent out invitations to the First Convent of Building Culture.

The Convent of Building Culture meets every two years and offers the Foundation expert advice.

Members of the Convent are winners of the most important national prizes awarded during the last five years in the following areas:

  • Landscape planning/landscape architecture,

  • Town development,

  • Civil engineering,

  • Architecture/interior design,

  • Architectural criticism,

  • The preservation of historical monuments,

  • Clients/the banking and housing industries.

Permanent guests to the Convents are the institutions awarding the prizes, jury members and clients.

The Convent continually rejuvenates itself since new generations of prize-winners take part, whilst older ones retire.

In April 2003, the First Convent on Building Culture was held in the former Plenary Chamber of the German Bundestag. Speakers included German President Johannes Rau, Minister Dr. Manfred Stolpe Minister of Transport, Communication and Housing and parliamentary undersecretary Christina Weiss. The Convent discussed the aims of the Foundation for Building culture and approvingly noted the tasks and instruments of the planned Foundation.

Furthermore, a number of papers were presented on main issues affecting building culture. These included:

  • Communication about and within building culture.

  • The avant-garde, innovation and experimentation.

  • The culture of civil engineering works.

  • The landscape.

On the second day, the Convent members held discussions and reached a decision to elect a committee.  

In autumn 2003, the Convent’s 490 members elected a twenty-member committee from among their ranks by postal vote. Participation was 81 per cent. The committee, which has twenty members and met for the first time in November 2003, will continue to define the tasks of the planned foundation. The committee comprises the following members: Jörg Schlaich, Werner Sobek, Christoph Ingenhoven, Christiane Thalgott, Werner Durth, Michael Krautzberger, Werner Sewing, Ingeborg Flagge, Thomas Sieverts, Manfred Sack, Peter Kulka, Kaspar Kraemer, Hartmut Häußermann, Gottfried Kiesow, Florian Nagler, Louisa Hutton, Meinhard von Gerkan, Wolfgang Kil, Markus Allmann and Bernd Hunger. Angela Bezzenberger was co-opted for the area of landscape architecture, bringing the number up to twenty-one.

In October 2003, all architects and engineers were informed in general about the foundation and asked to offer their support in the form of a personal contribution.

The next steps towards establishing the foundation will be to accompany the legislative procedure required to establish a foundation, to prepare the content for the Second Convent of Building culture and to monitor the themes of the next report on building culture.

The law establishing the Foundation (and hence the actual establishment of the Foundation) is expected to take effect in spring 2005, coinciding with the second Convent on Building culture.

The process of est
ablishing a Federal Foundation for Building Culture will be followed and supported by the sponsoring organisation, the Federal Foundation for Building Culture e. V., which has its headquarters in Berlin. The board members are: Ullrich Schwarz (Chairman), Kaspar Kraemer, Engelbert Kortmann, Klaus Bollinger, Jörg Haspel, Bernd Hunger, Ulla Luther, Teja Trüper, Julian Wekél and Engelbert Lütke Daldrup.

For further information:
www.bundesstiftung-building culture.de




Vol. 8, No. 2 (March 2004)