We had the inaugural Architecture Lecture in the Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, delivered, very appropriately, by Professor Sir David Chipperfield RA.
He concentrated on three issues.
The first was the creation of an appropriate amount of public space in any building project, beginning with the terrace and colonnade outside the otherwise very internalised Museum of Literature in Marbach. The second was the creation of space for playing ping pong alongside his Jumex Museum in Mexico City, which reminded me of the public space underneath the podium of Lino Bo Bardi’s São Paulo Museum of Art. The third was the amount of public circulation above ground in the neoclassical colonnade of the James Simon Building in Berlin, soon to open.
The second issue was, and is, his reference to history. We were reminded of how the majority of German’s wanted a precise reconstruction of August Stüler’s monumental staircase in the Neues Museum, not a faint echo of it. But how Berliners queued round the block to see the newly reconstructed Neues Museum, once it was completed.
The third issue was the way architects have to attend to the detail of projects, including the different types of window frame in Mies van der Rohe’s National Gallery in Berlin. Should the original be maintained, in spite of the fact that it had, and would, leak ? Or should there be a modern equivalent ? Or an adaptation of the original ?
Chipperfield argued for an adaptation of the original on this and other occasions. A sensitivity for history and its legacy, but a freedom to adapt and re-invent it, when necessary. The spirit of Ruskin and the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites, which he brought so effectively to his work in Berlin, and now, more recently, to the renovation of Burlington Gardens.