November 19, 2020 | "Ein Tag Böhm" Review

  Photo of St Hildegardis retirement home and claim "Ein Tag Böhm" Copyright: © Elke Wetzig (mod.)/AGes  

"Ein Tag Böhm". Gottfried Böhm's 100th Birthday

A Review by Anna Graff, Verena Hake and Caroline Helmenstein

On the occasion of the 100th birthday of the architect Gottfried Böhm, whose multifaceted oeuvre is currently being honored and celebrated in various ways as part of a veritable "Böhm Year", the Chair of Architectural History, in cooperation with the Chair of Building Typologies, organized a digital study day on October 30, 2020, along with an exhibition of student works. Scholars from Germany, Austria, Italy and Lebanon presented their current research methods and results on the works of the Pritzker Prize winner and discussed them with a large number of virtual participants from Paris to Cape Town.

Professor Anke Naujokat and Professor Anne-Julchen Bernhardt opened the day with a short welcoming speech, offering diverse perspectives on the external and internal approach to the works of Gottfried Böhm. The morning section was dedicated to his secular buildings and in particular to his masterful way of architecturally interweaving the tradition and the present. To mention just a few examples, the speakers highlighted (by examining the Diözesanmuseum in Paderborn, the Bergischer Löwe in Bergisch Gladbach and exemplary developments of historical castle sites and town layouts which are very typical for Böhm) the wide range and thematic complexity of the architect's designs, which are "comme il faut" in many ways but also often the subject of controversial discussions.

The afternoon section focused on the Cathedral of Our Lady of Neviges. The lecturers, who approached the building with in part completely different research methods and questions, were able to introduce the audience to the perhaps most important sacral building by Gottfried Boehm in an individual way, by making the architectural power and spatial intensity of this "animated monolith" tangible on different scale and program levels. The lectures dealt, for example, with the urban planning concept and contextualization, with aspects of creating atmosphere and with the physical comprehension and experience of the church interior.

The afternoon section was preceded by a guided tour through the virtual exhibition of the Chair of Building Typologies. Anne-Julchen Bernhardt offered an inspiring insight into selected works by 24 students who, in two analytical design seminars, subjected just an equal number of different buildings by Gottfried Böhm to a monographic analysis. The tools and results are three artifacts each: a photograph, a model and a drawing, which in many cases open up surprising and insightful new approaches to the architect's work.

Both the study day and the exhibition took place in a completely "un-böhm" manner due to the current circumstances, since they were executed solely in a digital way, thus non-haptically, non-substantially, non-physically. But what they were nonetheless: Intense regarding the contents and, not least of all, deeply human. Thus, despite the partially several thousand kilometers of spatial distance, the participants found themselves closer together in equally exciting and profound discussions than expected before. In the end, despite quite different positions on individual aspects, they were united by their deep admiration for the lifework of the centennial architect. The event came to a special conclusion in the form of a lecture by Jan Pieper, who provided very personal insights into his years of apprenticeship with Gottfried Böhm, whose long-standing employee and assistant he had been.

By the way: The website set up for the study day will remain online. Visiting this website, you will not only have the chance to explore the virtual exhibition, but also to watch the recordings of the lectures held by our international speakers.



Recordings of the Lectures

Organization Study Day

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Naujokat
Dipl.-Ing. Architektin Verena Hake
Dr.-Ing. Caroline Helmenstein
Felix Martin M. Sc. RWTH

Organization Exhibition

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anne-Julchen Bernhardt
Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Zeh