07.03.2024 Betina Albrecht

Building with Natural Materials: Closer to Nature

View of the exhibition, Berlinische Galerie, 2024, © Harry Schnitger

The Berlinische Galerie presents the exhibition Close to Nature – Building with Fungi, Trees, Mud. Featuring three projects in Berlin, the show presents new approaches to natural building materials, that not only can serve as raw material, but also completely reshape the traditional city-nature conflict.

OLA – Office for Living Architecture, Competition „Haus der Zukunft“, 2012, © OLA

Nature vs. architecture

As the metaphor of the Primitive Hut shows, architecture developed in automatic competition with nature, but without nature, this sector could never have evolved. The exhibition therefore begins with photographs showing the relationship between humans and nature. Visitors can view 45 original plans and drawings, renderings, objects and models. These include, for example, a real model of a tree intertwined with a structural element.

Botanical facades

The tree sculpture is a prototype of a design proposal from 2012, which came third in the competition for the Futurium exhibition centre. At the time, OLA - Office for Living Architecture conceptualized the new exhibition building near Berlin Central Station, as a building surrounded by trees. The envisioned botanical facade would have grown together with the building's core and been accessed via a ramp. The trees were intended to provide a habitat for animals, absorb fine dust and save energy by providing shade.

OLA – Office for Living Architecture, Botanical Construction Tower, 2009, Detail 2011, © OLA, Cira Moro

Building with fungi

Furthermore, the habitable sculpture MY-CO SPACE by the MY-CO-X collective is on display. The 20 m² experimental fungi-based construction is covered with 300 panels made from a lab-recycled material. It is completely degradable, lightweight and insulating. The robustness of this design, including its resistance to weather and fire, is currently being researched.

View of the exhibition, MY-CO-X, MY-CO Space, 2021, Berlinische Galerie © Harry Schnitger

Modern rammed earth construction

The third Berlin project is the well-known Chapel of Reconciliation by Rudolf Reitermann and Peter Sassenroth with Martin Rauch. With its 7 m high rammed earth wall, the building is considered a pioneering achievement today. For the exhibition, Martin Rauch has designed an installation made of prefabricated rammed earth elements that demonstrates how aesthetically powerful the clay element can be.

Chapel of Reconciliation, 1996–2000, © Reitermann/Sassenroth, Foto: Bruno Klomfar

Beyond technical aspects

Fungi, tree and mud: three important areas of the current paradigm shift are covered by the careful selection of the projects. The aim of the exhibition is to present natural building materials beyond their technical development. By introducing the cultural dimension into a previously purely technical debate, the three project examples question the formal and conceptual principles of building design.

Exhibition: Closer to Nature – Building with Fungi, Trees, Mud
Exhibition venue:  Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur, Alte Jakobstraße 124–128, 10969 Berlin (DE)
Exhibition dates: 16 February to 14 October 2024
Opening hours: Wednesday to Monday, 10 am–6 pm, Tuesday closed

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