The Humboldt Forum in the Stadtschloss, Berlin, has been in the focus of the public since the original idea phase at the turn of the century, and it has sought for many a heated internal debate among the cultural sciences. The Forum and the Museum Island are intended to bind art, culture and science together, through collections, libraries and event rooms. The Museum Island illustrates European culture and the Humboldt Forum provides a platform for non-European cultures.
Only time will tell whether or not this juggling act between the contemporary understanding of culture and the historical scientific perspective of the Humboldt brothers, Alexander and Wilhelm, after whom the Forum is named, is likely to succeed.
However, as part of the reconstruction of the Stadtschloss, the Forum is not merely a colonialism controversy. It is also affected by considerations regarding historical architecture and city planning (New construction or reconstruction? Historical kitsch or self-assured advocacy of traditions?)
Beyond this controversy, it is undoubtedly a master achievement in terms of construction and technology, in which the use of Cobiax has played a major role.
The premises used for a museum must fulfil one requirement in particular: They must be changeable. Depending of the intentions of the exhibition organiser, various room layouts and divisions are necessary. Slab props or weight-bearing pillars and columns limit the freedom of design. At the Humboldt Forum, this has been avoided to a large extent, thanks to the Cobiax voided flat plate slabs.
The result is wide, open spaces, which offer room for ever-changing exhibition concepts and collections. The room caters to the intentions of the exhibitor, and not the other way round.
The large entrance hall was designed for cross-themed events. It appeals to a large audience. This mimics an idea – also historically-scientifically notable – by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz: the “Wissenschaftstheater” (Science Theatre), which presents scientific knowledge in an especially prepared, dramaturgical, didactically optimised form.
The size of the hall, despite the modest depth of the slab, is also a result of the Cobiax voided slab technology.
Images: © Franco Stella
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