Rumiko Handa, Associate Dean and Professor of Architecture, recently published a new book, “Presenting Difficult Pasts Through Architecture: Converting National Socialist Sites to Documentation Centers,” which explores ways to present the past through architectural design in a meaningful way. when applied to pre-existing buildings. and places.
Through four case studies in Nuremberg, Cologne, Berlin and Munich, Handa examines how these communities approached the establishment of documentation centers to share the history of German National Socialism and the Holocaust with others for posterity. . Her research is particularly relevant to designers today, as the industry grapples with its own design challenges when dealing with projects such as Civil War Relics, post-invasion Iraq construction. and many other sites of historical significance.
“In every community there is always a dark past which at some point needs to be addressed,” Handa said. “And I think we live in a time when we really need to question ourselves and think carefully about what we do with these places and sites. “
His book explores the different paths taken by post-war communities in Germany facing these sites and more recently the choices of designers and town planners and the way they presented the past through the creation of four different documentation centers. on these sites. Some post-war communities chose to demolish former Nazi headquarters and buildings in an attempt to erase and deny the past, some restored the buildings to pre-war conditions and others chose to show the scars of the past.
In the four case studies presented in Handa’s book, buildings in Berlin and Munich were demolished but remains such as foundations and neighboring buildings remained. However, in Nuremberg and Cologne the buildings remained standing. Each of these communities and their designers approached the creation of their documentation centers differently, each with its own unique circumstances and situations. Handa explores how each design team has used architectural design to present the past in a meaningful way.
Handa wants the reader to view these design cases and strategies as something they can consider applying to their own project as they explore the possibilities. She also hopes the book will initiate a discussion and be a historical resource as communities explore ways to present difficult and complicated stories.
“I’m not as interested in the cases themselves as I am in how the profession or discipline can apply the information presented in the book to real life situations,” Handa said. “I am not presenting anything as the correct answer. Of course it depends on the case, it depends on the place, it depends on the particular history of the site.
Handa is a renowned scholar of architectural theory, history and design and is the author of other architectural books, including “The Allure of the Incomplete, the Imperfect and the Impermanent: to conceive and appreciate architecture as nature “and” Conjuring the real: the role of architecture in Fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries.