Philipp Oswalt

Philipp Oswalt (born June 29, 1964 in Frankfurt am Main ) is a German architect and Professor of Architectural Theory and Design at the University of Kassel . [1]

Oswalt is a son of the architect Alfred Oswalt (1910-1992), a great-grandson of the Frankfurt building contractor and building councilor Philipp Holzmann (1836-1904). Alfred Oswalt was arrested as a member of a German-Dutch resistance group in October 1944 and imprisoned in Berlin-Plötzensee prison. He escaped being sentenced by the People’s Court by a bomb attack on February 3, 1945, which destroyed the People’s Court building. [2] After being transferred to Bayreuth, he was liberated in April 1945 when American troops invaded. On his mother’s side, Philipp Oswalt is a grandson of the economist Walter Eucken and the writer Edith Eucken-Erdsiek . He is married to the historian and journalist Stefanie Oswalt and has three children.

In the early 1980s, Oswalt was involved in the citizens’ initiative against the West runway , in the peace movement and with the Greens . From 1982 to 1984 he was a board member and spokesman for the Green Party in Frankfurt, and during his studies in Freiburg in 1984 he worked on the editorial staff of Radio Freies Dreyeckland . He then studied architecture at the Technical University of Berlin and the Berlin University of the Arts from 1984 to 1988 . From 1988 to 1994 he was editor of the architecture magazine Arch+ . In 1996/97, Oswalt worked in Rem Koolhaas’ OMA office, after which he worked for MVRDV on the conceptual design of the Dutch Pavilion at Expo 2000 .

With his own office, founded in 1998, he won, among other things, first prize in the competition for the redesign of the memorial site of the former Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp . From 2002 to 2008 he realized the international research and exhibition project Shrinking Cities for the German Federal Cultural Foundation .

From 2000 to 2002, Oswalt was a visiting professor at the Brandenburg Technical University of Cottbus . Since 2006 he has held a professorship in the field of architectural theory and design at the University of Kassel. From March 2009 to March 2014 he was head of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation [3] and has been an Associated Investigator at the Image-Knowledge-Design Cluster of Excellence at the Humboldt University in Berlin since 2012 on the topics of Anthropocene cuisine and the Bauhaus logo.

Oswalt is considered a combative player in architectural debates, including as one of “ the most dogged opponents of the new Berlin City Palace ”. [4] However, he did not reject a new urban design on the site of the earlier castle, but warned against a historicist reconstruction, which ” should primarily serve to create new images “. [5] He criticized a reconstruction in the cubature of the former city palace and a reconstruction of the baroque facade. In this context, he conducted legal disputes with the Berlin Palace Association and its chairman Wilhelm von Boddien. Oswalt had repeatedly accused the association of opaque business practices and improper handling of donations. In the end, the district court of Berlin agreed with Oswalt in the dispute. [6]

On the other hand, as director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, he had Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Pump Room and several Masters ‘ Houses rebuilt by Walter Gropius . It was important to him “that the Masters’ Houses are a kind of reconstruction and that the historical interiors can also be understood”. [7]

In the Berlin architecture dispute of the 1990s, Oswalt first got involved in 1994 by criticizing the concepts of “Berlin architecture” and a “Prussian style”. In 2000, with the book Berlin – Stadt ohne Form. Strategies for a Different Architecture presents his own interpretation of the identity and shape of the city of Berlin. Using nine themes, he presented Berlin as a city that has essentially been shaped by conflicting forces and ideologies since the beginning of modernity in the 19th century.

Following on from this, he developed the European research project Urban Catalyst with Klaus Overmeyer , which they both managed from 2001 to 2003. Part of the project was a feasibility study for the cultural interim use of the Palace of the Republic (with Philipp Misselwitz), which led to the founding of the initiative ZwischenPalastNutzung. After lengthy debates and negotiations, the Volkspalast 2004 project was finally realized in the ruins of the Palace of the Republic, which Oswalt curated together with Amelie Deuflhard and Matthias Lilienthal. [8th]

In the period that followed, Philipp Oswalt and various partners presented several alternative plans for dealing with the ruins of the Palace of the Republic and the palace grounds, most recently at the 2012 Open Space Competition with the work Active Reconstructions – The Berlin Palace Environment as a Historical Drama .

Pump Room (reconstructed 2013)

House Moholy-Nagy/Feininger (reconstructed 2014)

House Gropius (reconstructed 2014)
Another focus of Oswalt’s work is dealing with shrinking cities. In 2001, together with Klaus Overmeyer, he published the study Less is more. Experimental urban redevelopment in East Germany for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, which led to the founding of the International Building Exhibition Saxony-Anhalt 2010 in the following year. For the German Federal Cultural Foundation, he and his office and several partners realized the international research and exhibition project Shrinking Cities from 2002 to 2008, which interdisciplinary researched the phenomenon in North America, Europe and Asia and also dealt with possible options for action.

As the successor to Omar Akbar and head of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation from 2009 to 2014, Oswalt opened the International Building Exhibition Stadtumbau Sachsen-Anhalt 2010 . He promoted Bauhaus tourism, cultivated the myth of the Bauhaus as well as the classic avant-garde in the tradition of the debate, in contrast to his predecessor Akbar advocated the reconstruction of the war-damaged Gropius director’s villa and the Moholy-Nagy semi-detached house in the Dessau masters’ house settlement (Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architects Berlin) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe ‘s drinking hall , published the Bauhaus magazine after 80 yearsgave up again, published important historical writings such as Siegfried Ebeling ‘s Raum als Membran and Laslo Moholy-Nagy , and supplemented the educational program of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation with fellowships, artist residencies and postgraduate studies, among other things.

In a conflict over the location of the new museum building he proposed and demanded in 2009 [9] , Minister Stephan Dorgerloh (SPD), Chairman of the Foundation Council, decided to fill the position after the first five-year term, which led to international criticism. The scientific advisory board of the foundation resigned in protest. The media consistently criticized the decision. ” In fact, the Minister of Education seems to understand the director at the Bauhaus as a subordinate of his sovereign authority, ” wrote Ronald Berg in the daily newspaper. [10]The Left Party in the state parliament spoke of an “outrageous event”. “Anyone who is uncomfortable and openly represents their own positions obviously has to leave Saxony-Anhalt, whether they are ministers, state secretaries or now the director of the Bauhaus Foundation Philipp Oswalt,” said Stefan Gebhardt , spokesman for culture and media policy at the time . [11] Subsequently, deputy board member Gunnar Schellenberger also criticized the non-renewal of Oswalt’s contract. [12]

After leaving the foundation, he founded the “projekt bauhaus” initiative with partners, which has been dedicated to the potential of the Bauhaus for the present since 2015. Philipp Oswalt also conducts research on the history and present of the Bauhaus at the Humboldt University in Berlin (project Bauhaus image mark) and the University of Kassel (Hannes Meyer arcaded houses).

In December 2016, Oswalt resigned from the Evangelical Church in protest against the reconstruction of the Potsdam Garrison Church. In a letter to the Berlin Superintendent Ulrike Trautwein , he accused the church, in his view, of being “ too closely linked to the state ”, among other things “ false statements about its own church history ” and wrote: “ The idea of ​​peace and reconciliation is not only exploited, it is also thwarted. Because with the project one consciously accepts that it will cause discord in the city and church. [ 13]

In an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper , he sharply criticized the role of the Protestant church in the reconstruction of the Potsdam garrison church. [14]

Fonts (Selection)
Philipp Oswalt (ed.), with the collaboration of Susanne Rexroth: Well-Tempered Architecture , CF Müller, Heidelberg 1994, ISBN 978-3-7880-7533-0 . Awarded the prize of the German environmental foundation “Read for the environment”
Philipp Oswalt for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (ed.): Lázló Moholy-Nagy: Seeing in motion. (German edition of the book Vision in Motion ) Spector Books, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-944669-32-8 . Awarded the German Photo Book Prize Silver 2015.
Philipp Oswalt: Berlin – city without form, strategies of a different architecture. Prestel, Munich 2000, ISBN 978-3-7913-2440-1 , Italian edition Berlin – Citta senza Forma , 2006 Meltemi
Philipp Oswalt (ed.): Shrinking Cities, Volume 1. International investigation. Hatje Cantz 2004, ISBN 978-3-7757-1481-5 , English edition Ostfildern 2005, Chinese edition Shanghai 2012 (Tonji University Press)
Philipp Oswalt (ed.): Shrinking Cities, Volume 2. Action Plans. Hatje Cantz, 2005, English edition 2006.
Philipp Misselwitz, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Philipp Oswalt (eds.): Fun Palace 200X. The Berlin Palace Square. Demolition, new construction or green field? Martin Schmitz Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-927795-35-8 .
Philipp Oswalt and Tim Rieniets (eds.): Atlas of Shrinking Cities. Hatje Cantz 2006, (German/English), ISBN 978-3-7757-1714-4 . Awarded as one of the »most beautiful Swiss books« 2006.
Philipp Oswalt (ed.): Bauhaus dispute 1919-2009. controversies and opponents. Hatje Cantz 2009, ISBN 978-3-7757-2454-8 , English edition 2010.
Philipp Misselwitz, Philipp Oswalt, Klaus Overmeyer (eds.): Urban Catalyst: Developing the city with temporary uses. Actar 2011, ISBN 978-3-86922-244-8 , English edition: ISBN 978-3-86922-261-5 .
Kerstin Faber, Philipp Oswalt (ed.): Spatial pioneers in rural areas – New ways of public services. Spector Books, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-940064-58-5 .
Philipp Oswalt for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (ed.): Dessau 1945: Modernism destroyed. Spector Books, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-944669-57-1 , bpb edition ISBN 978-3-8389-0453-5 .
Guest editor Arch+ magazine, No. 222, March 2016: Can design change society? project bauhaus issue 1
Thomas Flierl , Philipp Oswalt (eds.): In the dispute of interpretations: Conflicting Interpretation. Hannes Meyer and the Bauhaus. Spector Books, Leipzig 2018, ISBN 978-3959051507
Philipp Oswalt (ed.): Hannes Meyer’s new Bauhaus teachings: From Dessau to Mexico. Birkhäuser, Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-035617-24-5 .
Birgit Jooss , Philipp Oswalt, Daniel Tyradellis (eds.): bauhaus | documenta. vision and brand. Leipzig 2019, ISBN 978-3-959052-99-3
Philipp Oswalt: Bauhaus brand 1919-2019. The triumph of iconic form over use . Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich 2019, ISBN 978-3-85881-620-7 .
Web Links
Commons : Philipp Oswalt – Collection of images, videos and audio files
Literature by and about Philipp Oswalt in the German National Library catalogue
Works by and about Philipp Oswalt in the German Digital Library – Homepage of Philipp Oswalt
Website of the Department of Architectural Theory and Design at the University of Kassel
Philip Oswalt – Website of the Shrinking Cities project – Website of the research group Urban Catalyst
[1] – Website of the cultural use of the Palace of the Republic – Website of Projekt Bauhaus – Blog by Philipp Oswalt on the reconstruction of the Berlin Palace
Deutschlandfunk (DLF) cultural issues. Debates and documents from May 6, 2018: The new Frankfurt old town “fake aesthetics” in public space? , Philipp Oswalt in conversation with Ludger Fittkau
WDR 3 (West German Broadcasting) Mosaic. Conversation on Saturday , February 2, 2019