The terms HOCH, TIEF and EBEN are applied to the extreme east
and west edges of the building, acting like a set of brackets. The
way the paths and roads are laid out means that viewers can see
only half the word as an abstract sequence of signs that only
turns out to be intelligible when walking or driving past. Formally,
this work is reflecting on peripheral rustication as a principle of
architectural articulation and design. The selected type size (half
character height approx. 1 m) corresponds with the proportions of
the architecture. Here the use of different typography invokes contrasting
architectural styles and epochs, thus also referring to the
building’s chequered history in war time and after wars, and then
again to its current use as a modern administrative facility.
The formal presentation of the words runs counter to the actual
meaning of the concepts HOCH (high) and TIEF (low). TIEF is
written in modern sans-serif capitals, and despite its size seems
weightless and allocated to heaven. HOCH, in Gothic lower case
and set from top to bottom, looks heavy and earth–drawn.
This contradictory quality also applies to the choice of material,
shiny V2A steel and rusted iron respectively. The third term, EBEN
(flat), executed in gilded aluminium in a roman typeface mediates
between the two extremes not just formally and geographically,
but also because of its linguistic significance.
At the back of the
former barracks, the main section was linked with three new
buildings, identical in ground plan, by fully glazed staircases. The
inner courtyards created in this way, with buildings on three sides,
were allocated to three different vegetation zones by a landscape
architect. Thus the gardens on the horizontal plane and the staircases
on the vertical plane create different areas of perception for
the building’s visitors and users.
These perception areas are interlinked and connected by a typographical
design on the glazed stairwells, developed from Wanderers
Nachtlied, a poem by Goethe. It is the most familiar poem in
the German language, and the one most frequently parodied and
assimilated. It is still decipherable even when broken down into a
collection of syllables.
In terms of content it is a poem of transitions: from top to bottom,
from inside to out. Thus it reflects the architecture and use
of the place in a very complex way. Letters and syllables, developed
vertically, on translucent sheet of different colours, detach
themselves individually, completely changing the context and
their meaning. This work playfully reflects building as a structural
linking of individual elements, and also language, as a higher,
necessary building material.
The typographical presentation (capitals about 80 cm high) and
the destruction of the syntax take away the text’s fussy, classical
feel and stimulates visitors to think about the analogy between
reading and building.