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Last Friday (22.04.22), the architecture collective c/o now received an invitation to a round table with Petra Kahlfeldt. We would like to publish her reaction here.
Invited: "Young Architects", journalists of well-known and established German-language architectural media (online as well as print) and the new Berlin Senate Building Director Petra Kahlfeldt. The invitation calls for some topics worth discussing in an "open, direct, unbiased exchange." The host is the curator of the program on architecture and urban development of a "temporary art gallery" on Kurfürstendamm operated by SIGNA Real Estate - unknown to us so far.
As architects, we are always critically involved in the urban development discourse in Berlin and Brandenburg. We also try to pass on this critical view to future colleagues in our teaching, as is currently the case with the guest professorship we have taken on collectively as c/o now at the University of Art in Linz.
As planners and builders in the legal form of a limited company, we are a private enterprise. Here we work with public, but predominantly with private clients. This work is always based on mutual trust. Just as we as architects feel the obligation, beyond the mere offer of our services, to understand the "welfare of the general public" as a planning and action parameter, we have so far collaborated without exception with clients who feel just as firmly committed to this premise, which is laid down in Article 14, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, and who also act accordingly.
The invitation to us states quite correctly that "the appointment of Petra Kahlfeldt as Berlin Senate Building Director has not been without opposition". We, too, have publicly objected to this appointment, but we see above all the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and the Senator for Urban Development and the Environment Andreas Geisel (also SPD) as being responsible. We consider it an unfortunate circumstance that the Senate Building Director has agreed to a meeting with "young architects" of this city, who are "specifically invited", in a "Temporary Kuntshalle" of all places, which is run by a real estate company of which the invitation itself says: "SIGNA is also much in the press".
In principle, with few exceptions, we are prepared to enter dialogue with other positions, including real estate companies, whether they are in the press or not. However, we expect, especially from the Senate Building Director, that such an offer of dialogue takes place at eye level. In our opinion, this also includes a public, low-threshold accessible and, in view of the "Temporary Kunsthalle", ultimately neutral place, where as many, different actors as possible, who are or should be involved in the shaping of this city, can gather. The future of the city should be discussed in places that serve the public interest and not private economic interests. Otherwise, we run the risk of specific criticism being turned into a generality, or even instrumentalized by the organizers. If we abstain from any criticism, we may legitimize positions worthy of criticism simply by our presence.
We would therefore like to politely thank the curator of the program on architecture and urban development of the new "Temporary Kunsthalle" on Kurfürstendamm for the invitation, which we must, however, firmly decline.
We call on the Senate Building Director to emphatically seek contact with "young architects"; to become part of an engaged, public and not only for experts accessible and evolving culture of discussion; and to initiate such important, public appointments themselves, instead of leaving such formats to third parties!
We ask our colleagues, whether they are young, old or still studying, as well as our clients, out of solidarity with all our working and living conditions, but above all for the sake of the open and transparent discussion possibility of the future of this city, not to accept the invitation to such formats as this "Round Table" - whether as contributors or listeners!
c/o now, Berlin, 25.04.22