Table of contents:
Architecture as dialogue by Mechthild Stuhlmacher
Things, other things by Mark Pimlott
Works and projects:
Single-family house in Aggstall
Facade refurbishment, Berlin
Balconies for a residential building, Munich
Fröhle House, Eichstätt
Munich Re Group executive management offices, Munich
Building Information Centre, Munich-Riem
Theresienhöhe social-housing apartments, Munich
Multi-storey car park, Munich-Riem
Alter Hof housing and offices, Munich
Social-housing apartments on Lohengrinstrasse, Munich
BFTS, Bavarian Research and Technology Centre
for Sport Sciences, Munich
Social-housing apartments on Stockholmstrasse, Munich-Riem
VIP box in the Allianz Arena stadium, Munich
Exhibition design for the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich
Pschorrbräu Beerhall, Munich
Refurbishment of Hohenkammer Castle, Hohenkammer
Martin Tschanz. Cladding
Three facades in Hamburg, Bad Reichenhall
On architecture and contamination.
Letters for late summer by Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl
Excerpt from the introduction:
‘Architecture as dialogue
by Mechthild Stuhlmacher
The first time I heard and saw Andreas Hild, it very quickly became clear to me that here was someone who loves to talk. Not someone who loves just his audience and topic, but speech itself, with all its nuances, little gags and gestures that make up a language. Not someone who just gives a lecture, but someone who can give his audience the feeling that it is personally involved in a conversation. The unusual thing is that I feel much the same way about the architecture of HildundK. It’s an architecture of gestures and allusions and, to be more precise, one that invites the observer to join in the dialogue and continue the story with one’s own associations.
Andreas Hild comes from a family of advertisers. In his parental home the main theme was communication. One practised simplifying, illustrating and clarifying facts in order for them to be coherent. To this day the desire to express themselves in an understandable way still captivates Andreas Hild and his partner Dionys Ottl, and it has shaped the entire creative work of the practice from the very beginning. Their buildings and interiors speak a language that is sometimes direct and immediate, sometimes cryptic, a language that can spring from one reference to another, that evokes memories, makes unexpected connections and permits very different kinds of interpretations.
Since the premature death of his first partner, Tillmann Kaltwasser, Andreas Hild has run his practice together with Dionys Ottl who, ever since the founding of the office, has been closely involved in all projects. He comes from a family of craftspeople and construction workers from the picturesque Upper Bavarian village of Murnau. This particular background has not only shaped him but also shapes the work of the practice. Dionys Ottl still feels tied to the decorative craft traditions of the region, which he has introduced as a rich—and still very useful—reference into the joint work of the office. Since that time the theme of folk culture has played an important role in their search for an accessible architectural language.
Despite their love of language, both Hild and Ottl avoid all manner of written declarations. The work, they believe, should speak for itself. It is only in conversations or lectures that they tell anecdotes or give any background information. In this area it is generally Andreas Hild who takes the lead (Dionys Ottl takes care of getting the ideas built) and takes his listeners with him on a seemingly evident yet highly individual train of thought. In these conversations there are two notions Andreas Hild returns to time and time again: the ‘world of buildings’ and the ‘world of things.’
The world of buildings
Among architects, Robert Venturi is the closest to the opinion that architecture must speak a language accessible to everyone. Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl regard it as imperative to escape from an architectural discourse that is purely internal. In their view architecture must also be comprehensible to the layman if it is to survive as a discipline. Andreas Hild saw in Venturi’s writings and drawings, with their resemblance to advertising, a usable theoretical framework that promised to bridge the distance between observers, end users and architecture itself at a time when precisely this gap seemed to be growing ever wider. Venturi legitimised differing historical and contemporary references and made popularity acceptable.
‘Essentially what Venturi is saying is that everything around us that we see and experience can be taken as a source for architecture, and with this ‘everything’ he means the banal and ordinary or trivial. We like to take this ‘everything’ even more literally and use it to mean really everything, not only the banal, and not only things, but also our built surroundings. We think it important to remain in the ‘world of buildings’ and only very sparingly, if at all, to gather references from the ‘world of objects.’’
The vast referential world the practice of HildundK operates in gives credence to the quote. The ‘everything’ lies in the specific conditions of every single project that the architects embrace anew each time as the starting point for their architectural thoughts, be it precious or cheap, conventional, or even vulgar or exquisite. For Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl the referential ‘world of buildings’ is as diverse and heterogeneous as their wide-ranging clients, tasks and budgets and their different spatial and cultural contexts. References may be made as much to the mediocre ornamentation of postwar reconstruction architecture as to the baroque expression of the brothers Asam; the architectural art of Richard Serra can be taken as a point of departure for an architectural intervention just as much as the conventional shapes and structural necessities of a rural farmhouse; or the architects can become deeply involved in the commercial, shallow glamour of the world of football, the stiff formality of representational Bavarian interiors, or even the highbrow architectural discourse on modern housing as heroically addressed by the IBA exhibition of 1957 in Berlin. Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl pay their respects to all of these ‘worlds of buildings’ and comment on them in their work: at times ironically, at times with provocative bluntness or just skilfully and amicably.
The discovery of ornament: a bus stop in Landshut.
Probably the most important project of the early years was a tiny and at first glance thankless commission. Andreas Hild and Tillmann Kaltwasser were asked to design a bus stop on a central square in Landshut. They wanted to answer this all-too modest request with an all-too expansive gesture that seemed to be the appropriate way of liberating the small commission from its banality. They conjured up the idea of a sculpture resembling the work of Richard Serra and started to work on a design made of solid curved sheets of rusted steel. However, the client found the blank areas of wall unacceptable and demanded perforations. The architects looked for patterns to be cut in the plate material by modern laser technology. The fact that neither the structure itself nor the chosen technique imposed any formal or technical constraints meant that the architects were confronted here with an unaccustomed freedom. They finally picked a Biedermeier garland from a book and enlarged the pattern to use as a mould. The architects kept using the material they had originally chosen, had the selected flower pattern cut out of the steel sheets and, where necessary, covered the sharp-edged rusty material with glass. And so, quite literally, the ornament became the structure of the project.
What was initially intended as a provocation (and reaction to the conventional preconceptions about the commission) had an effect that even the architects themselves had not reckoned with: the small bus stop mutated into a beautiful object that was, quite simply, a source of delight. One did not need to know anything about its history or the architects’ sculptural ambitions. The elegant filigree object entered into a playful and friendly, yet contemporary, relationship with its historical location, thus achieving something that a serious Serra sculpture could never have done. All at once the ideal of an architecture that was popular and understandable but yet not banal appeared to be realistic and achievable. But perhaps even more important was the discovery that architecture can be enjoyable and that beauty and ornament can play a decisive role here.
The world of things
Although Andreas Hild and Dionys Ottl state their preferences most clearly, they repeatedly explore those intermediate areas between things and buildings where their most interesting designs are produced: what does it mean when buildings from past eras introduce references from the world of things (for example textile ornament) to the world of buildings? Or how should one deal with traditions of form that inherently contain references to the world of things? What should one do when things determine the world of buildings, pushing the buildings themselves into the background, such as, for example, the obligatory chestnut trees and the green painted benches in a beer garden? Does the change of scale that, in the manner of Claes Oldenburg, determines the appearance of the bus stop in Landshut not transport the entire structure into the world of things and then transport the thing back to the world of buildings? And does the mahogany print on the facade panels in the housing building in Kempten not create confusion between the furnishings and the external skin? And as for the render facade in Berlin, which in its original state was naturally a part of the world of buildings, through its abstract reconstruction and absurd scale, does it not become a thing that only the context can bring back to the world of buildings? Does the check facade of the BFTS not recall the pattern of washed tea-towels, only to insert itself seamlessly in the long series of buildings in Munich with flatly ornamented facades that recall techniques used in textiles such as weaving or embroidery? And does the brick facade of the house in Aggstall not go a step further through the striking similarity of the solid external skin with a coarse monochrome knitted pattern? (…)’