Jump to menu

Shaped to the Measure of the People’s Songs

Annual Series of Artistic Interventions in Public Space, in 2023 with raumlaborberlin


Inaugural pavilion designed by raumlabor. Photo: Nin Solis/HKW

Inaugural pavilion designed by raumlabor. Photo: Nin Solis/HKW

The method of building may be used, but you must strip from this method all the substance of particular character and detail, and drive out from your mind the picture of the houses that so beautifully fulfilled your desires. You must start right from the beginning, letting your new buildings grow from the daily lives of the people who will live in them, shaping the houses to the measure of the people's songs, weaving the pattern of a village as if on the village looms, mindful of the trees and the crops that will grow there, respectful to the skyline and humble before the seasons. There must be neither faked tradition nor faked modernity, but an architecture that will be the visible and permanent expression of the character of a community. But this would mean nothing less than a whole new architecture.
—Hassan Fathy, Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt (1969)

HKW presents a new series of annual temporary pavilions as artistic interventions in public space. With this architectural and programmatic expansion, HKW offers a new space of encounter and experimentation at the interface between its historic building, the biotope of the Tiergarten, and the surrounding context of Berlin’s urban and political fabric. Today’s continuing crises around the climate, housing shortages, and exclusionary urban infrastructures re-emphasize the need for a concrete examination of spatial issues when envisioning collective ways of living. 

The pavilion series embraces this impetus to critically consider space and to explore its various material and immaterial implications. Each year, a new pavilion takes on a creative translation and realization of the complex question of living together into spatial and material propositions. As a public, accessible, and open space, the pavilion is an artistic intervention and site of engagement beyond HKW’s main building, enabling visitors and passersby to gather informally around and beyond its programme activities. Its intimate scale encourages close contact amongst people, materials, and architectural elements. As an outdoor intervention, the pavilion also connects to the past and present activities, communities, and ecologies that populate the Tiergarten and its surroundings.

The inaugural pavilion is designed and developed by the Berlin-based architecture collective Raumlabor. Over the last twenty years, the collective has developed numerous experimental urban and architectural interventions based on collaborative forms of research-based design, including several at HKW. The basis for Raumlabor’s pavilion is Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map—an experimental imagining he first developed in 1943, which projects the global map onto a polyhedral surface and triangulates its geography into an expanded and interconnected matrix. This visual exercise pushes against a reading of the globe as a cluster of separated and distinct entities and insists on the inseparability of our global geographies that demand communication, care, and solutions on a collaborative planetary scale. 

Following its launch, the pavilion series continues with an annual open call for artists, architects, and other practitioners to respond to relevant and situated concerns, considering diverse approaches to the natural and built environment. The pavilion series marks HKW’s deeper engagement with architectural and spatial practices. What are the forms, materialities, scales, and measures of our social and spatial relations today and to come?

The title of the series Shaped to the Measure of the People’s Songs takes its cue from Hassan Fathy’s seminal book, Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt, in which Fathy reflects on the significance of spatiality, aesthetics, tradition, and the situatedness of architecture in relation to specific cultures, histories, people, and economic and climatic conditions.