Sometimes the lack of quality of the built environment is the consequence of a lack of regulations; sometimes its lack of vitality is the consequence of its overregulation. Arno Brandlhuber has been challenging the system from many angles, questioning while working the laws that govern architecture—artistic laws and legal laws. If anything, Brandlhuber’s work is powerful, brutal, and therefore vital. And this is particularly meritorious coming from Germany, a country that in its well-intentioned search for universal technical quality tends to suffocate the liveliness of architecture. Brandlhuber walks his talk. In the Antivilla he used architectural directness to resist the German energy-saving codes that were overregulating and overriding common sense. On the other hand, when he fought the city-stateofBerlinbecausetheyweresellingpublicly owned properties to the private sector, he asked for more regulation. When looking at his projects, it is evident that somebody who is comfortable with a window being undertaken quite literally as a hole in the wall is somebody who is ready to fight conventions. Laws are conventions. Sometimes it makes sense to obey them, sometimes they need to be challenged, sometimes (and this is less obvious, coming from a defiant architect) they need to be strengthened.


  • Rights: Photo by: Francesco Galli; Courtesy la Biennale di Venezia

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