THOSE WHO SAW STIRLING ON SITE SAID HE HAD NEVER SEEMED SO RELAXED
In his 1984 review of Stirling's Staatsgalerie in the Architectural Review, Reyner Banham asked: 'How can so quintessentially English a Liverpudlian Scot as Stirling only 'nd architectural happiness outside his native isles?' Stuttgart agreed with Stirling. Those who visited him on site reported that he had never seemed so easy and relaxed, and the gallery remains his seminal work.
A couple of decades later, and a few miles down the road in Marbach, David Chipper'eld has found the architectural climate equally amenable. He is widely quoted as having said that the key difference between working in mainland Europe and the UK is that 'here you are not really expected to debate ideas', and the commission for the Museum of Modern Literature (see pages 25-37) is a case in point.
Having come fourth in the initial design competition, Chipper'eld effectively won the commission on intellectual grounds, persuading the client out of its concerns about the connotations of the proposal's Neo-Classical aesthetic. Cost was not the issue. Compare this to his relationship with BBC Scotland, where Chipper'eld won the commission fair and square, and consequently found himself edged out in favour of Keppie Design, as the client's initial enthusiasm for visionary design gave way to an unseemly scramble to curtail costs.
It is not that German cultural institutions are intrinsically more pro'igate than those at home, but rather that their understanding of value is less narrowly de'ned than our own.
As Banham put it all those years ago: 'Good budgets are a product of a will as well as af'uence, and tend to come from clients who want architecture, not just square footage of 'oor area. German culture, since about 1800, has seemed to want architecture, and to attribute to it almost magical powers, both in civic and cultural life, and in the Bildung of the individual being.'