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>> Welcome to "25"
>> Hall of Fame englisch
>> Interview with Ariane Grigoteit
>> Visionary Spaces: Zaha Hadid

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Visionary Spaces:
Zaha Hadid’s Exhibition Design for the Deutsche Guggenheim

"25" at Deutsche Guggenheim, atrium, Photo: Mathias Schormann

A spheric interior landscape, organic and technical at the same time – the interior of the Deutsche Guggenheim has been radically redesigned for “25”, the anniversary show for the Deutsche Bank Collection. The brains behind this futuristic exhibition design in Zaha Hadid, whose creations are among the most exciting that modern architecture has to offer. A portrait by Ulrich Clewing

When a critic once asked Zaha Hadid if her buildings were about the “destruction of reality,” she gave an interesting answer. In the first place, she said, it depended on what reality he was referring to. And in the second place, gravity was “still architecture’s greatest challenge – the fact that objects always have to ‘land’ at some point.” Which goes to prove two things: on the one hand, Zaha Hadid has a hard time accepting alleged certainties; when in doubt, she prefers to pose a counter-question. On the other hand, she is quite clear that the basic laws of physics apply to her as well.

Exhibition design for "25" at Deutsche Guggenheim
Photos: Mathias Schormann

Only this Iraqi-born, London-based architect could have come up with the visionary exhibition design for “25”. Zaha Hadid, who in 2004 became the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Prize , the “Nobel Prize for Architecture,” has also conceived something highly unique for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin – a design that goes well beyond the usual framework of exhibition design. For this anniversary show, she’s designed a biomorphic, architectonic complex reminiscent of a system of communicating tubes or pipes, and which also incorporates the neighboring Deutsche Bank Unter den Linden. It reflects the unusual concept of the exhibition: 25 godparents chose their personal favorite works from the Deutsche Bank Collection – from Classical Modernism through to recent contemporary art.

The godparent’s selections are complemented by the Curator’s Choice section, which takes at look at the future of the Collection. The interior design for the exhibition provides an appropriate framework for this lively, multi-faceted network of art. For Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, director of Deutsche Bank Art, the relationship between exhibition design and the art itself is part of the concept: “We found it Zaha Hadid’s design especially interesting in view of the conditions at the Bank, where the art has to react to the existing architecture and the daily work environment. Zaha Hadid very skillfully transferred this constellation to the exhibition situation. Her symbiosis of workplace and exhibition space challenges the art while also protecting it.”

Exhibition view, "25" at Deutsche Guggenheim, Photo: Mathias Schormann

For Deutsche Guggenheim, Hadid created an interior landscape that alternates between the organic and the inorganic, the natural and the highly artificial. Hadid says, “Visitors will have the feeling that they are entering a foreign, somewhat bizarre world, which, like an obstacle course, invites one to transverse and explore it.” The dominant motif of the exhibition space is the concave inward curve, extended and stretched, drawn out like a hose or contracted and tugged around – the visitor is everywhere surrounded by dips and curves, smooth transitions, niches and rounded-out shapes on which the paintings of the anniversary exhibition are hung like precious jewels.

The architecture is then continued into the atrium of the building in a kind of inversion. Here, concave cones, irregular pyramids, slender shafts, and rotund growths rise up, the very forms from the additions of the architectonic “body” in the exhibition hall. Zaha Hadid’s concept is so complex that it would have been unthinkable without the aid of modern technology. Only ten years ago, a design of this kind would never have come about simply because the necessary programs hadn’t yet been written; nor did computers exist that were capable of handling the vast amounts of data.

Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein
Photo: Hélène Binet

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