Licht Luft Scheisse -

Archaeologies of Sustainability

By: Sandra Bartoli and
Silvan Linden // Büros für Konstruktivismus)


Lecture held on January 29, 2021

An Environmental History of Architecture

“The ecological question is not new. Over a hundred years ago, conceptual models and practices were developed in reaction to increasing industrialisation and urbanisation, which still resonate with our current ideas of sustainability. These approaches reflected not only a systematic understanding of the interactions between humans and the environment, and between nature and technology, but also the growing awareness of a modernity that is depriving itself of the basis of life.” Licht Luft Scheisse - Archaeologies of Sustainability

In this lecture Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Linden give an insight into their latest book “Licht Luft Scheisse - Archaeologies of Sustainability” (adocs Verlag, Hamburg 2020) co-edited with Florian Wüst. Derived from their 2019 exhibition at neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) Berlin, the book compiles more than 170 ‘artefacts’ from the past two centuries that express kaleidoscopic ideas of sustainability. Sandra and Silvan present a selection of the artefacts, comprised of images, documents, texts, and artworks and explain their roles in the context of their respective times. Reminding us of the alternating nature and history of sites in former West Berlin, this lecture explores the variety of realms and beings that are (and ought to be) included in the poetry and functionality of the urban, as well as introducing a concept of sustainability that lies beyond the mere credo of green efficiency.

This is exemplified by the former railway station at Potsdamer Platz, which was – despite being situated in the territory of West Berlin – still subject to the GDR. In this situation the place remained inaccessible to human beings for almost thirty years, making it a rarity in urban biotopes. When the area was handed over in the context of a land exchange in 1972, plants and animals had taken over and transformed it into a unique habitat. West Berlin, the shrinking “green archipelago” was not only fertile ground for human escapees and alternative subcultures – with its dead ends, fragmented parts, fallow land covered in ruderal vegetation, pockets, and niches, it harboured a variety of unique habitats, which would inform and attract world-wide curiosity and foster a new discipline: Urban Ecology. 

Shifting to a smaller scale, the lecture also discusses the radical thinking and design of Ot Hoffmann through his tree house in Darmstadt. Hoffmann combined different experimental approaches to sustainability and created a green oasis in the middle of the city: from grey water recycling and electricity generation via his own wind turbine, to an interplay of targeted planting and the possibility of free appropriation by plants.

Length: 70:45 min


About Sandra and Silvan:

Sandra Bartoli is an architect and landscape architect and her research focuses on sites of the entanglement of nature and city, such as Tiergarten in Berlin, a transgressive example of place which leads to new definitions and models of what is “urban” under the challenge of the Anthropocene. Bartoli co-edited with Jörg Stollmann the book “Tiergarten, Landscape of Transgression” (Park Books 2019). During 2017 and 2018, Bartoli worked on her research theme The City’s Future Natural History as an Endowed Professor for Visionary Forms of Cities at the Institute for Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and is now professor at the Architecture Faculty of Munich University of Applied Sciences.
Silvan Linden is an architect and co-editor of the ongoing series AG Architekur in Gebrauch (adocs Verlag Hamburg), an architectural zine started by the office in 2014, in which “use” is explored as an aesthetic category that informs the development and transformation of architectural space. Linden is co-author of the book La Zona - Index (ngbk Berlin, 2012) and co-editor with Arno Brandlhuber of the architectural publication series Disko 1-25 (AdBK Nürnberg 2006-2011). He was guest-professor and substitute professor at Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg, he also taught at TU Berlin, the Greenwhich University in London, and TU Braunschweig.

Sandra Bartoli and Silvan Linden are the founders of the Büros für Konstruktivismus in Berlin.


[EN]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 was initiated by the Habitat Unit in cooperation with Projekte International and provides an open stage and platform for multiple contributions of departments and students of the Technical University Berlin and beyond. The project is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation.

[DE]   Berlin Brandenburg 2040 wurde initiiert von der Habitat Unit in Kooperation mit Projekte International und bietet eine offene Plattform für Beiträge von Fachgebieten und Studierenden der Technischen Universität Berlin und darüberhinaus. Das Projekt wird von der Robert Bosch Stiftung gefördert.

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