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Exhibition view “The Great Repair”
Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 2023, Photo © David von Becker
Exhibition view “The Great Repair”, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 2023, Photo © David von Becker

“The Great Repair”, they say, “is an oxymoron”. In the title, two seemingly contradictory principles collide: “The revolutionary ambition of radical system change, a characteristic of great solutions, collides with the evolutionary act of repair. For despite all justified (postmodern) scepticism about revolution as a figure of thought of rupture, we must not give up the claim to profound change.” The background to the debate about repairing instead of tearing down and rebuilding, throwing away and buying anew, which is also intensifying in this country, is the current ecological and social crises. The project takes its cue from the prevailing narrative of “a green, growth-oriented transformation” that promises to “tackle the climate and resource crisis with the help of technological innovation alone”. Such visions “with their promise of efficiency and consistency”, we read, are technology-fixated and not really capable of overcoming “the extractive paradigm”. Especially since it has been shown “that the various ‘smart’ solutions are often well compatible with different forms of state and corporate conservatism”. In architecture, at any rate, “the technofix narrative implies the demolition of buildings and their replacement with only apparently sustainable new buildings”. Consequently, we are “condemned to repair”, which is not a surprising realisation in view of a world that is ageing and passing away every moment.

The exhibition “The Great Repair” presents more than 40 positions from art and architecture as well as spatial practices in which repair is to become tangible “as a new design paradigm” at the Akademie der Künste on Hanseatenweg in Berlin until 14 January 2024. The exhibition, they say, starts with the Akademie building and makes processes and spaces of maintenance and care visible. Das Spektrum reiche „von Alltagspraktiken der Sorgearbeit bis hin zu Beispielen für eine Baupraxis, die statt Neubau auf die Arbeit mit dem Vorhandenen setzt“. Mit der Ausstellung führt die Architekturzeitschrift Arch+ in Berlin gemeinsam mit ihren Projektpartnerinnen (Akademie der Künste, ETH Zürich und Universität Luxemburg) die Auseinandersetzung fort, die sie als Teil des Kurator*innenkollektivs des deutschen Beitrags auf der diesjährigen Architekturbiennale in Venedig begonnen hat. Im Zentrum des Projekts steht die Erkenntnis, dass das gegenwärtige Wirtschaftssystem „miThe spectrum ranges “from everyday practices of care work to examples of a building practice that focuses on working with the existing instead of building new”. With this exhibition, the architecture magazine Arch+ in Berlin, together with its project partners (Akademie der Künste, ETH Zurich and the University of Luxembourg), is continuing the discussion it began as part of the curatorial collective of the German contribution to this year’s Architecture Biennale in Venice. At the heart of the project is the realisation that the current economic system “with its emphasis on innovation, growth and progress has led to a ruthless exploitation of people and nature”. Architecture has no small part in this system, “as the statistics on greenhouse gas emissions and construction and demolition waste prove”.t seiner Betonung auf Innovation, Wachstum und Fortschritt zu einer rücksichtslosen Ausbeutung von Mensch und Natur geführt hat“. Die Architektur habe an diesem System keinen geringen Anteil, „wie die Statistiken zu Treibhausgasemissionen und Bau- und Abbruchabfällen beweisen“.

Accompanying the exhibition curated by Florian Hertweck, Christian Hiller, Markus Krieger, Alex Nehmer, Anh-Linh Ngo and Milica Topalović, two issues of ARCH+, Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, have been published. The first volume (No. 250, Politiken der Reparaturgesellschaft, December 2022) serves as a theoretical introduction, the second, bilingual volume (No. 253, Praktiken der Reparatur) presents corresponding practices.

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