Bel, Germany

author: Jörg Leeser, BeL Sozietät für Architektur BDA
published: April 22, 2011,   recorded: April 2011,   views: 3585


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Jörg Leeser is a German architect and a founding partner of BeL, an architecture office based in Cologne, Germany, founded in 2000 by him and his partner Anne-Julchen Bernhardt. For us BeL is one of the most promising architecture offices in Germany of its generation; it is also one of the most unusual German offices we know. German Architecture is primarily obsessed with technology and functionality, it wants to be a 100 % reliable and eliminate all doubt. The success and tragedy of German Architecture is that often enough it also fulfils these goals. It is a success because it is not exactly bad to be in building that works; but if that’s all there is to a building, it is also kind of tragic. To overcome this germanic dialectics, BeL has built its practice upon the assumption that its possible to marry the rational and the surreal. They argue that if only you take the rational seriously enough, it will ultimately reveal a latent irrational counter side. Wilfully misreading the determinism of German Technophilia, they uncover a universe of almost mystic inexplainability. The logic of their actions is guided by a methodic double-bind: When they go to bed with Neufert under their pillow, they are prone to wake up with Schwitters on their tongue. If they strive for mathematical monosemy, they are bound to end up in ambiguity. To make architecture in Germany with such a twisted mindset is tantamount to asking for trouble. And so for years past BeL had to walk the stony trail of endless competitions, hopeless clients and clueless critics. But good-spirited as their names suggests, BeL have been patient and enduring, knowing their time will come. Over a period of 10 years of ceaseless practice they have crafted a unique way of making architecture, one which today luckily materializes more and more in buildings, too, and one which ultimately might help German Architecture to discover the virtue of the doubt. In 2011 they have been awarded the Kunstpreis Baukunst by the German Acadamy of the Arts.

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