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Saturday, September 11, 2010

N-Berg

Nuremberg, like the other cities in Germany we visit, has a rich but dark history. Deemed one of the three favorite cities of Hitler and the Nazi party (Berlin and Munich being the other two), it was a major rallying ground and propaganda area for the country. Much of the city had been bombed out in WWII and left many of the buildings needing to be restored or even rebuilt from the ground up. They really did a nice job in keeping the buildings looking from an earlier area even though most had major work done. One of the most interesting buildings we visited was a museum that had been converted from a headquarter building of the Nazis. A lot of plans had been set forth to change Nuremberg into a strong hold and this building, made in heavy stone, was constructed mostly out of forced labor and built as a fortress. The archtitect does a nice job in cutting through large sections of the building with a radical design, symbolic of the change in thinking that took place from then and now. Most of the exhibits take you through the original building, but these cuts, visible from the oustide, guide you through it. There are also several times where the path brings you outside to see large courtyards where rallies were once held. It's really amazing to see these huge chunks cut out of the heavy stone construction and this modern steel skeleton breaking away.


We also had a chance to meet up with a local architect from the city who once attended Tech. He took us to his job site still in the construction stage. This building was going to be in the older part of the city but he wanted to give it a more modern look while keeping some of the same program of the surrounding area. These were to be apartments that started at 600,000 euros in rent, but were right on the canal system. He also gave us a tour of his office/home which was very modern and nice. We had dinner there that night and talked about his practice with some serious architecture discussion and where it was headed. We also talked about vampires, one of the running joke on this leg of the trip, where one of the girls has apparently been mistaken as one by some kids on the subway. One teacher has actually been making a lot of them, bragging about asking the subway ticket window for one vampire ticket and how she couldn't find one. I of course chimed in with "she was probably looking in the day tickets". It got a lot of laughs and I was pretty much done for the night because I couldn't top that.

Another one of the buildings we looked at was the Neues Museum which is a very modern building, still in the walls, although you wouldn't know that unless the walked down the ally. The view from the street looks just like any other on the block with the gift shop entrance doors are visible there. When you turn down the ally however, a curved wall of glass stretches into the plaza behind it and showcases the modern interior and large spiral staircases. There were a few interesting exhibits in the museum, including one of famous chairs and the impressions they made on a womans bare backside. My favorite part of this concrete building was the spiral staircase that winded its way to each gallery in its pure neutral colors. What you see is not what you always get and this building was exactly that. Just walking by the front gives no sign of what happens around the corner.
Neues Museum
We just wrapped up our first full day in Munich and we have a few more until we hit the road again. We didn't see a lot of big buildings in Nuremberg and the scale was a lot smaller, but it was a nice change for a few days. We have already seen a lot of large scale buildings, including stadiums, in Munich and have a few more to go.

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