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Eberswalde Library: Herzog & de Meuron

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Given its preoccupation with the skin of buildings, Herzog & de Meuron has been characterised pejoratively as a 'cosmetician', writes Andrew Mead ; though, in his recent article in the Swiss periodical du (May 2000), Jeffrey Kipnis uses the term positively in discussing the practice's work.

This preoccupation is nowhere more evident than in the Eberswalde Library, north of Berlin, on which Herzog & de Meuron collaborated with photographer Thomas Ruff. Here the entire building becomes a screen of images, applied to concrete panels as well as glass, by means which Gerhard Mack explains in this excellent addition to the AA's inexpensive 'Architecture Landscape Urbanism' series. He also interprets the iconographical scheme that governs these pictorial strata, supplies historical context (conflicting attitudes to ornament), and discusses other surface strategies of Herzog & de Meuron.

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