Architects not architecture in München. Foto: Irene Osei-Poku

Architects, not architecture. A conversation about architectural mediation

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We don't know about you. We, for one, have been waiting a long time for a format like Architects, not architecture. Because we, too, have long been preoccupied with the question of how architecture can be communicated to a large audience in an entertaining way.

This format plays so wonderfully lightly with the themes of architecture by deliberately not letting the protagonists talk about their projects. The focus is always on the planners themselves. What sounds strange at first develops an unexpected and valuable dynamic. Above all, the principles and convictions of the creators shine through. This often provides the listener with more food for thought than lengthy lectures on individual projects and their details.

We talked to Fermín Tribaldos, the mastermind behind "Architects, not architecture", about how his format came about, what he hopes to achieve with it and what visitors to his events, which are now also taking place outside Germany, can look forward to.

Hello to Hamburg! Fermín, can you please introduce your format again yourself in a few words for those who have never been there?

Fermín Tribaldos: Hello back! "Architects, not Architecture" brings to light what is unfortunately too rarely seen, but which has a very great influence on the projects: the person behind them, their career, the attitude and the decisive experiences. In other words, everything that has shaped this person and their architecture and is reflected in their works. If you only know the projects, you only perceive the public side of architecture, but not the decisive facets behind it. In addition to these inspirations, the aim was also to "celebrate" architecture to a certain extent.

The program is always the same: We invite three well-known architects who are not allowed to talk about their projects. Each architect gives a 20-minute talk, followed by a ten-minute interview, and then there is a discussion round with all the speakers and questions from the audience.

Your events, which have been running in five major German cities since 2015, have been hugely popular. How did you actually come up with this unusual idea?

Fermín Tribaldos: Whew! I actually came up with the idea of doing this event because I find the topic very exciting overall. Originally, I just wanted to organize one or two events with the most important architects in Hamburg. I hardly had any experience with events, but I was very curious and interested. And I had nothing to lose! (laughs)

So establishing a series of events throughout Germany was not my goal at all. And I never thought I would get the opportunity to export the format abroad! It just happened little by little.

Munich Edition 01 Photo: Irene Osei-Poku
You are an architect yourself, you studied at the Bauhaus University in Weimar and worked in Hamburg. What excites you personally about architecture?

Fermín Tribaldos: Apart from my own biographical aspects, I am simply fascinated by what good architecture can achieve - its positive emotions and changes. And at the same time, the enthusiasm that is necessary to realize these improvements.

There is architecture that simply changes places. Either projects that are at rest within themselves, such as Kenzō Tange's St Mary Cathedral. Or those that positively influence their surroundings like the Oslo Opera House Snøhetta. When concepts like that work, I think it's great. What I also love are the fine details in the realization. You can feel this passion for the small and well-made details when you spend time in a space. I think of Japanese architecture, for example, or the interior design of John Pawson.

What are the most fascinating moments for you in your events?

Fermín Tribaldos: I love it when the speakers, who of course I have already met before an event, tell me something on stage that I absolutely would not have expected. Of course, I have studied them intensively beforehand, I know their projects, I do research in lectures and interviews.... and still you can never know what will happen on stage!

When my guests open up, embrace the format and fill it with life, the result is an absolute "bomb". Then it can only be highly interesting, grandiose and very funny.

Which famous landscape architects* have you already had on the podium and what impressed you?

Fermín Tribaldos: From the beginning, I had planned to invite not only structural architects but also urban planners and landscape architects, whose work I really appreciate. After all, the disciplines have a lot in common and also points of contact in their collaboration.

So far I have had the pleasure of meeting the landscape architects Hinnerk Wehberg from WES LandschaftsArchitektur and Andrea Gebhard from mahl.gebhard.konzepte. Both have an exciting, almost adventurous (professional) path behind them. Hinnerk Wehberg was originally a painter and sculptor and Andrea Gebhard studied sociology and geography before she came to landscape architecture.

All the more reason for me to look forward to the upcoming event with Regine Keller, who also has an incredibly exciting CV!

Munich Edition 03. 17 October 2018, Gasteig Munich

One of the guests will be Prof. Regine Keller. She also came to landscape architecture in a roundabout way. After studying, training and working in the field of theatre, she first completed an apprenticeship in GaLaBau before studying landscape architecture in Munich. In 1998 she founded her office. Since 2005 she has also held the chair of Landscape Architecture and Public Space at the Technical University of Munich. Her working method is correspondingly interdisciplinary: in dialogue with architects, urban planners, artists and engineers. Further Information

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