One of modernism’s dreams was to create a better society by providing livable housing for everyone based on standardized construction practices and functional architecture. Architects like Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier disseminated the basic notions of new form of objective building around the world. They did the groundwork for the urban planners of the 1960s and 1970s in particular, who viewed prefabricated and high-rise buildings as promising ideal forms of dwelling.
In Proposal For The House Lange_Living Room = 89,19 m², the architect and artist Apolonija Šušteršič examines the development of the New Building style and the tension field that opens up in the process between utopia and reality. Sustersic implants the ground plan of a 3-room apartment from the so-called Mississippi Steamer into the ground plan of Haus Lange. The Mississippi Steamer was erected in the mid 1970s and is still the only high-rise apartment building in Krefeld. The 23-story, nearly 70-meter tall building with 252 apartments represents an extremely dense construction that otherwise does not exist in Krefeld’s cityscape. The otherness and self-contained nature of the architecture, the crowded building situation as well as the colorful mixture of inhabitants from many different nations, make the high-rise a puzzling, inaccessible place. Apolonija Šušteršič soberly shows the layout of one of its apartments. The ratio to the living space in Haus Lange not only reveals the different dimensions but also the diverse social structures inherent there: Haus Lange was built by an affluent, socially established family in accordance with its personal needs. The apartment in the high-rise building is planned to be a functional unit in which every centimeter is optimally used. In Haus Lange, by contrast, the space is tangible as an abstract entity—regardless of the function of each respective room. The character of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s architecture is essentially determined by the interaction of the human body with the open spaces and their materiality as well as with nature in the adjacent outdoor area.
With her interweaving of these ground plans, Apolonija Šušteršič condenses a far-reaching stylistic and social history of modernist architecture while also referencing the two conceptual site-specific works by Daniel Buren and Michel Asher, who in 1982 installed the ground plans of Haus Lange and Haus Esters in the respective other house. Apolonija Šušteršič thus simultaneously addresses the art historical dimension of this site. However, she breaks open the modernist space and points to misconceptions that are already invested in modernism. And she turns to the public urban space with its inhabitants. The Proposal For The House Lange_Living Room = 89,19 m² project, which the artist conceived as a poster that visitors can take with them, will be continued early next year in the high-rise building itself.
Apolonija Šušteršič (
*1965 Ljubljana, Slowenin) studied architecture at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and fine art at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. She creates social meeting places based on the questioning of architectonic spaces, societal contexts and institutional structures. Platforms emerge from the connection between architecture, design and art that inspire reflections on today and tomorrow. The places created in this way can be comprehended as a continuation of the artistic concept of social sculpture. She lives and works in Lund and Ljubljana.