Als die Architektur tanzen lernte: Stefan Behnisch

The 1960s were a groundbreaking era for architecture. “Architecture was learning to dance”, as Stefan Behnisch summarizes − and we could add that Detail was learning to walk as well. On the occasion of our 60th anniversary, we recap the past with Stefan Behnisch and take a look into the future.

What is the legacy of 1960s architecture?
The architecture of the 1960s, at least here in Germany, was characterized by upheaval, particularly in southern Germany. A fine, light aestheticization began in architecture. This was easy to recognize, especially in public buildings and in certain subsidized apartment houses. It seemed that we had taken control of the rebuilding phase, and society slowly emerged from the dark, narrow-minded 1950s, from the trauma of the National Socialist period. Architecture was learning to dance, in a restrained way of course, but a “spring” was discernible. Openness, lightness, light and shape became significant factors from then on.

When did you first encounter Detail?
Detail first encountered me with an issue about the Solothurn school surrounding Max Schlup and Fritz Haller. I still have it. Fritz Haller was my professor, a formative one, an outstanding character and a great teacher. I bought the magazine so I could better understand the Solothurn school. Detail made a lasting impression on me as clear, rational, technical and very informative. This may be connected to the fact that for me, the magazine is always linked to that one issue: my first.

Where do you see architecture 60 years from now?
Anyone who can answer this question should please give me a call. I hope architecture will again gain more cultural significance as a special artefact that shapes our environment and public space, and that we will get off the wrong track of seeing it as a “commodity”. Architecture defines our towns and history, and it reveals the cultural capabilities not only of today’s societies and cultures, but of those long forgotten as well. What buildings express about us, not how we construct or plan buildings, should take centre stage.

Stefan Behnisch (*1957 in Stuttgart) studied philosophy, economics and architecture. In 1989, he established his own studio in Stuttgart, which has been operating as Behnisch Architekten since 2005. Further studios have opened in Los Angeles (1999), Boston (2006) and Munich (2008). Stefan Behnisch has taught in Portsmouth, Nancy, Austin and other cities, and has been a visiting professor at the Yale School of Architecture, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, TU Delft, TU Munich and other institutions. In 2007, he was distinguished with the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture; in 2013 he won the Energy Performance + Architecture Award.

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