Lesesaal

Showing architecture, except when architecture is showing itself, is both difficult and challenging.
Presenting architecture, the act of exhibiting, showing, demonstrating – whatever you like to call it – the specific achievements of an architect or an architectural practice, raises a problem. If the simple presence of the architecture itself on its particular site is left out of the equation, you have to find a way of coming to terms with the difference between the architecture as such and the various objects that represent it. This can happen subconsciously: you fall back on tried-and-tested illustration or representation devices in the broadest sense – by exhibiting things like models, photographs, drawings, plans, sections, simulations etc. – or consciously: you make this problem of the architecture’s absence as such into one of the themes of the exhibition. This is a theme that alongside its purely theoretical explosive quality also has direct architectural connections and can be handled using architectural resources.

The Reading Room is a kind of architectural installation that enables visitors – it would certainly not be enough to call them viewers – to approach the work of the HildundK practice both concretely and abstractly. Concretely, in that visitors have to involve themselves in a space that is deliberately designed to present essential creative elements of the architects’ work, brought into focus in an economical and reductive form. Abstractly, in that the architects present only textual interpretation by outsiders as a means of approaching their work.
Visitors can get closer to HildundK’s architecture in the Reading Room by reading – though we should not attempt to conceal the fact that the texts themselves contain quite traditional references to architecture like pictures, illustrations etc. The production of books is controlled only to the extent that the act of going to press itself was a creative activity that the architecture practice undertook, whereas the texts as such assimilate existing buildings by the HildundK practice by commenting on them, or providing a reflective accompaniment to them, from a whole range of points of view (architectural criticism, art history, cultural history, philosophy etc.). The texts show that architecture has to create a form and prove its worth in terms of interpretative appraisal as well, beyond its concrete location. And they also show that architecture can demand a mental presence beyond its physical presence, and the proof of this is precisely not in the conventional presentation of objects that represent the buildings themselves.

And so in the best possible case the Reading Room can momentarily “condense” the pursuit of the whole structural, creative and intellectual work of architects to an extreme extent, demanding that all the conscious and unconscious senses are brought into play. And at the same time this form of presentation facilitates a specifically architectural contribution to the difficult subject of exhibiting architecture. Thus the Reading Room, despite – or precisely because of – the apparent lack at first sight of architecture by the HildundK practice, is a genuinely architectural project that displays the basic principles of the practice on a wide variety of levels.