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A Contemporary Court - an integrated territorial plan to counteract the neo-feudal spaces of the German 'Mittelstand'

Part 2 Project 2013
Friedrich Gräfling
Architectural Association, UK
“A Contemporary Court” takes the form of two adjacencies within my project: the theoretical thesis, which later expands into a real action plan. Both propose and develop a network of courts in form of a contemporary development of the Royal Palace to link supply chains across a wider territory. This serves a re-establishment of local civic spaces, rights for the citizens and territorial networks - a mixing chamber where arts, humanities, science and government coexist, the architecture of government and bureaucracy.

My belief in the seemingly untouched, rural landscape beyond the metropolitan space intensified through the domination of `Mittelstand´ companies in nearly every single village. `Mittelstand´ companies are highly specialised, family owned, medium-sized enterprises, focusing on innovative and high-value niche products. This single economical, cultural and often political entity is turning the surrounded autonomous, rural cell structure that punctuates the landscape outside the metropolitan into neo-feudal estates. Such singular dependencies present a danger as they dilute the voice of the citizen and create irrevocable dependencies.

My investigations into Europe, through first an overview to detailed territorial studies, via meticulous analysis of more than 30 adjacent villages to on-site visits, commands a new view of the European space beyond the metropolitan that calls existing structures into question and explores its architectural potential. This is a new urban typography that challenges the traditional model of patronage and calls for wider social and cultural unity.

Triggered by recent newspaper articles questioning the use of the last remaining cultural and social building in Wiesen, a village outside the metropolitan stretch of Frankfurt, my thesis has actualised into a real, self initiated court scenario to revitalise the village and reconnect it to a wider territory. On-site interviews turned over the course into actual negotiations with local and metropolitan stakeholders. This initiated an alteration of the vacant building into a local civic space with an integrated branch of a metropolitan art space, which will not only cater for the local needs but moreover allow the metropolitan institutions to engage into experimental projects and finally re-link the isolated area through external knowledge production to a wider network.

Friedrich Gräfling


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