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Reiseuni Report | Making Of European Architecture Dialogue
Reiseuni Report | Making Of European Architecture Dialogue

Vol:III Workshop Cluster • Cottbus

V:III_1. Workshop Cluster • Cottbus – Germany | Dagmar Jäger
V:III_1.1 [CBU] Dagmar Jäger: Transformation of Difficult Heritage
V:III_1.2 [CBU] WS1 [C1] Workshop Programme & Results "Transformation of the Buildings of the Ancient GDR Secret Service in Cottbus (Nordrand 45)"
V:III_1.3 [CBU] WS1 [C2] Workshop Programme & Results "Transformation of the Former Central Prison in Cottbus, Bautzenerstr."
V:III_1.4 Master's Thesis [CBU]: Cultural Transfer. Consequences of Tourism for Architecture & Urban Space in Europe: Transformation of the Former Central Prison


Cottbus | Until 1989, Cottbus held the status of energy capital of East Germany and was a hidden stronghold of state security (based on the number of agents per inhabitant). Its difficult built heritage of surveillance, large and grown 'cities within the cities', is disappearing from the map – either through demolition or privatization, often without any critical approach. The international group of students develops plural proposals for interpreting and transforming different sites of the 'young heritage', discussing issues like temporary interventions or hybrid programming of representations of political remembrance, experimenting concepts of artistic tracing or critical re-use, in dialogue with local leaders and the municipality.

Exemplary Transformation of the Building(s) of the ancient GDR Secret Service in Germany

V:III_1.1.1 Post War Heritage – Site Specific Research Context of Berlin-Cottbus

In 2009, the federal state governmental commissioned studio Stattbau asked me to think about the conversion potential of the former Ministry of the State Security of the GDR (MfS) in Berlin Lichtenberg – at that time in focus of the next town development programmes. Due to its political history of former dictatorship, the city within the city represented a specific problematic area within the formerly Eastern district of Berlin. I had the opportunity to work with 15 postgraduate students of my home university in Cottbus (Brandenburg University of Technology) about the future of the site of about 7,5 ha, one year before the start of the international Master's programme in autumn 2010 – during our preparation period. I did not hesitate, although no doubt it was a challenging task within my larger research field dealing with 20th century and difficult built heritage, as it promised to be a relevant focus for the cumulative research work within a series of workshops of the new Master's programme.

[Fig. 01] Transformation Stasi-Area (MfS) Berlin. Exhibition poster 2010 photomontage: Melike Ceyisakar
[Fig. 01] Transformation Stasi-Area (MfS) Berlin. Exhibition poster 2010 photomontage: Melike Ceyisakar

When I started to develop the research approach in 2009, the typology of difficult built heritage of the ancient state security ensemble did not explicitly appear on top of the discourse landscape of cultural monument preservation in Germany. The scientific community of Berlin had to consider the enormous built heritage of two dictatorships after the war and favoured mostly prominent places – objects of public interest, which have been transformed towards memorial places and historic museums of the Nazi time and GDR, like multiple wall museums or the wall as unique monument itself. If not yet part of political and public controversial discourses in times after the fall of the wall, an enormous amount of built heritages of the GDR, especially representations in Berlin, have been rapidly destroyed, sold or neglected until today.

After the fall of the wall – Exciting waste lands

The projects of former industrial or political built heritage I had to deal with as architect have been out of public interest, often ignored or even forgotten: When starting the activity – the research by design projects with students – we considered these built typologies as potential important architecture testimonies of a region, time and typology of younger history that should be recognized. Unloved, undiscovered or just out of focus, the difficult heritage often even was a burden for the responsible municipality due to missing visions or feasible transformation concepts but promising high costs of maintenance.

[Fig. 02] Alice weint. Christian Pieper, 2005
[Fig. 02] Alice weint. Christian Pieper, 2005

As Berlin based architect, I started my architecture studies in Berlin West in 1988. My professional orientation was strongly influenced by the experiences linked to the fall of the wall. I did not only move physically from West to East Berlin in 1990, but my interests also moved from concerns of Western Europe to problems of East Germany. The topics that came along with it in Berlin: Inner urban spaces characterized by empty waste land without functions, decades of increasing vacancy of the Gründerzeit-housing by neglect, especially in the Eastern districts of Berlin, due to housing policy of big panel apartment blocks built since the 60s in the sub-urban districts. During the 90s, the Eastern countries of the now federal community of Germany were accompanied by the acute topoi of missing future visions by interrupted biographies and difficult social contexts, due to the large scale and abrupt de-industrialization in the East. The acute depopulation of whole regions was caused by the unemployment of lots of people as result of the collapsing of major industries – immense abandoned industrial landscapes after the coal mining in Brandenburg and Sachsen-Anhalt (one of the new of in total 16 federal countries of Germany). Next to the destroyed cultural landscapes, the young and then useless technical heritage became an incredible charge for the responsible municipalities like the abandoned power plants or the large conveyor bridges of coal mining like the so-called F60, simply put out of operation after the fall of the wall.

[Fig. 03] Zeichnen im Kontext – Signs in industrial landscape. IBA Fürst Pückler Land. Photos: Dagmar Jäger, 2000
[Fig. 03] Zeichnen im Kontext – Signs in industrial landscape. IBA Fürst Pückler Land. Photos: Dagmar Jäger, 2000

University as critical think tank: Revitalisation of lost spaces

Of course, for young architects the industrial spaces as well as the mega-sized machines were aesthetically absolutely fascinating at that time. We did not want to save the complete world but instead of destruction, do something local and relevant for the revitalization and rescue of the lost spaces and objects. We discovered exciting materialized values – values tracing social life and individual remembrance, values of material representing technical knowledge, statements of important young, industrial history – lost spaces with a high potential of transformative power. In the consequence, to think about transforming the existing meant for me, to develop design research strategies within the field of difficult heritage – politically, economically, socially, spatially difficult – that might be investigated under the roof of the university. Profiting from the liberty of critical approach and interdisciplinary research contexts, the university landscape allows implementing multidisciplinary analysis and design strategies towards multi perspective scenarios, to be developed with students and in dialogue with people engaged in the local context. Around 1998, this has been my early choice after having realized some first self-defined architecture projects as student or young architect in this field already.

[Fig. 04a] Industriepromenade Hameln – Transformation of remembrance. Concept for an industrial area. Dagmar Jaeger + Christian-Pieper, 1996
[Fig. 04a] Industriepromenade Hameln – Transformation of remembrance. Concept for an industrial area. Dagmar Jaeger + Christian-Pieper, 1996

[Fig. 04b] Kraftwerk Vockerode, "Mittendrin - Sachsen-Anhalt in der Geschichte". Work within the existing and transformation of remembrance: Power Plant Vockerode, Exhibition design: Dagmar Jäger, Studio J. Steiner, 1997
[Fig. 04b] Kraftwerk Vockerode, "Mittendrin - Sachsen-Anhalt in der Geschichte". Work within the existing and transformation of remembrance: Power Plant Vockerode, Exhibition design: Dagmar Jäger, Studio J. Steiner, 1997

In 2008, the Reiseuni charter condenses these aims for initiating a joint activity together with a cooperative European lab: Investigation of relevant spatial urban problems throughout Europe; the provocation of open research by design processes to enable transparent, critical and heterogeneous dialogues with the local stakeholders, implemented in interdisciplinary team-work together with students and intensive studio work, realized under the condition of independence but in direct exchange with local experts, for the sake of initiating public discourses, exhibitions, design work processes to be placed in the middle of the problems, with the goal of knowledge and solution transfer between university and civil society, to create, to moderate and to inform constructive processes, developing problematic sites towards better social and economic conditions.

[Fig. 05] Schnittmuster Rückwärts, Open future of industrial heritage, transformation of remembrance: PATTERN BACKWARDS, research design project at BTU Cottbus, D. Jäger with students, 2000
[Fig. 05] Schnittmuster Rückwärts, Open future of industrial heritage, transformation of remembrance: PATTERN BACKWARDS, research design project at BTU Cottbus, D. Jäger with students, 2000

Critical transformation – Challenges for politically loaded young heritage

From 2009 to 2012, I was able to realize four sequenced projects together with students, colleagues and local stakeholders in the field of difficult built heritage of the state security estate of the ancient GDR in Berlin and Cottbus. The preparatory half year semester project on the inner-urban MfS complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg was followed by two interacting six-week workshops with the international student groups of Reiseuni_lab about different built heritage typologies of state security estates in Cottbus and finally the half year Master's thesis, deepening the knowledge of the previous workshop results within an European comparative setting of research.

There is no historic built heritage transformation or rehabilitation project to be developed out of political, aesthetic, social and economic conflicting interests and values of the concerned parties and members of the involved civil society. But in contrast to my previous experiences with industrial built heritage, the concerned mix of people – experts like historians, architects, urban planners and architecture historians or politicians, witnesses, offenders (not subject to prosecution), activists, all being part of the discourse landscape about state security heritage of the GDR and its nowadays reflection and memorial design, have been an explosive mixture, even more than 20 years after the fall of the wall.

V:III_1.1.2 "City in the City" – State Security in the Middle of Urban Contexts (1st Project)

The ancient Ministry of State Security [MfS] in Berlin Lichtenberg, the first project of the sequence, is situated in the planning area of Frankfurter Allee Nord which is one of the districts of Berlin, which – during this period – should become part of a social town development programme. This elaborated instrument of politics in Berlin is characterized by dialogue and open planning processes with local inhabitants. The urban block represents an incredible closed city within the city in Lichtenberg still until today. Decades of increasing surveillance within the block and total control on the urban built and social context have created an urban fabric of borders.

Complex, grown contexts needs profound analysis strategies of the given

During times of the GDR, the complete building complex of the MfS housed more than 1000 employees. The buildings of the complex date from different periods during nearly a century. The size of the grown block: about 3 historic blocks of Berlin's 19th century structure (Gründerzeit) have been grown together, with multiple architecture typologies from historically preserved or transformed housing estates of the beginning of the 19th century, pure administration buildings constructed in modular technique, representative multi-functional buildings with even cinemas, shops of all sorts and a special subway entrance. After the second world war, the ensemble has been built or adopted stepwise in the growing period of the state security over 4 decades till the 80th of the 20th century.

[Fig. 06] Analytic mapping of House 18 of the Ministry of State Security Berlin. Anne Dreher, 2010
[Fig. 06] Analytic mapping of House 18 of the Ministry of State Security Berlin. Anne Dreher, 2010

Starting research work, the grown and functionally connected ensemble meanwhile has been owned after the fall of the wall by 7 different owner parties – partly state partly privately owned. The task for the student research group was to develop future options for programming this piece of the city district Lichtenberg, together with the town planning responsible of the municipality of the district as also concerned parties. Owners, local stakeholders, the municipality and inhabitants could consider our proposals and recognitions raised from the analysis about the given context of history, the architecture re-programming, public space proposals and multiple scenarios of future developments.

First of all, we had to carefully investigate the architecture typologies and urban qualities of the plot and its surroundings, to find out the possibilities of the site, the interests of the stakeholder and the needs of the already installed institutions like the Stasi Museum, working in this context, to understand the urban, social, political and historical environment and contradictions of the project. The aim was to develop a set of multifaceted urban scenarios, to experiment adequate architecture programmes and designs integrating the needs of the district, the given substance and the inscribed history – the experience of the place. I invited the chair of architecture history of BTU to realize the project as a professor's team and included expert lectures on history and politics as well as dialogues with witnesses to inform our research process. The urban planner Constanze Cremer of Stattbau accompanied our project.

Scientific orientated mapping: Context knowledge genesis via group research

As we could work on the top of given knowledge of Stattbau on the districts' social and urban context and furthermore, an interdisciplinary expertise discourse was available to support the knowledge genesis about the architecture and political history of the site, our design research could start under the condition of a given fundament and our student's group was able to develop focused questions. The students' analytic morphological-geographical mapping dealt with topics like "positions of the cameras", "daily pathways of the officers", "case study of one single multi-functional building with about 20 different functions", "the chronology of the architecture history of the complex" or "the localization of the housing estates built for staff of the Ministry of the State Security as part of the complex". An in-between workshop of one week – I invited also external students to our research team for a short urban design investigation (Stegreif) – opened the discussion about the diverse opportunities with heterogeneous positions about urban scenarios and first architectural concepts. Proposals dealt the transformation of administration buildings in public schools, the opening of the borders of the block with the implementation of public urban places or the conversion of the mega-block into a hybrid urban landscape of a memorial typology. The reflecting publication documented the set of propositions.

[Fig. 07] Analytic Mapping: Space-Expansion. Anna Mezey, 2010
[Fig. 07] Analytic Mapping: Space-Expansion. Anna Mezey, 2010

Housing instead of spying

The public debate about the results was held in the frame of an exhibition at the Stasi Museum in Berlin Lichtenberg together with experts of the Birthler Behörde, Stattbau, with local governors and the university team. To which dimension the worked out and exhibited knowledge and design positions supported the further dialogue and solution finding for the sake of the future development of the site, cannot be measured quantitatively. In fact, the exhibition and debate brought unexpected encounter – local inhabitants and experts together - and was a fruitful contribution for the public discourse. The exhibition caused immediate reaction of the press (Berliner Zeitung): "Wohnen statt spitzeln", which means "Housing instead of spying". Indeed, the awareness about the given causes first needed reflection, in combination with new approaches and the imagination of new horizons opens the mind's towards new opportunities.

[Fig. 09] Exhibition & Public Debate: Stasistadt – Transformation of the MfS-Area, Photos: Christian Pieper
[Fig. 09] Exhibition & Public Debate: Stasistadt – Transformation of the MfS-Area, Photos: Christian Pieper

V:III_1.1.3 Political Built Heritage Transformed in Private Luxury Housing? (2nd Project)

The second project dealing with future options of post-war difficult built heritage of state security estate emerged on top of the first: The chancellor of BTU, who heard about the first project in 2010, put my attention to Nordrand 45 in Cottbus, which at that time (and still today) had been private developer land with the aim to establish private housing estates. In GDR times, this property, again a huge complex, has been the main administration of state security of the federal country Brandenburg, second place in the country after the Ministry of State Security in Berlin. As also the ancient main secret service district of Berlin, the historically grown and functionally mixed ensemble of Cottbus, contained a complex of multiple architecture typologies within a large and closed block, grown within the urban context for decades: next to mainly administration functions of state security also comprising a remand prison, a hotel-guesthouse, dwellings, a warehouse and a cinema. When starting the project, some buildings were already demolished and all resources of planning material and further knowledge or discourse results about the site had first to be explored. We concentrated our research on the main building of the complex to be understood within the context of the historic state security ensemble and its urban context.

Demolition and privatisation without public discourse

Approaching the task, first step is the preparation of the research framework, the organization of the process with the tool of a workshop programme, in order to define the aim and the research strategy, the schedule, the relevant disciplines, diverse knowledge fields and to contact the people to involve. Most astonishing was the missing public discourse concerning this political built heritage, located just in the neighbourhood of the young technical university BTU (founded after the fall of the wall in 91), home to lots of architecture, planning and history experts who have been especially concerned – for more than 20 years – about the young architecture heritage and the research topic of transformation of the existing. One of the most important research fields has been dealing with the industrial heritage and the rehabilitation of abandoned landscapes towards new horizons during a decade.

[Fig. 10] Coal mining landscape after the coal mining. Kulturbiennale Pritzen, Photomontage: Dagmar Jäger + Christian Pieper, 1995
[Fig. 10] Coal mining landscape after the coal mining. Kulturbiennale Pritzen, Photomontage: Dagmar Jäger + Christian Pieper, 1995

Taking into account the importance of a site-specific awareness about given architectural heritage and reflection thereof for the sake of a responsible civil society, a public debate needs the critical view for the transformation to an important political heritage – which is owned by the state – towards a private luxury real estate for the city's identity and dynamic future. The position of questioning the privatization process that has happened beyond public discourse, further informed the research strategy, the starting point for the studio project work with the international group. Due to the freedom of research within the university and with the responsibility to investigate a promising difficult typology hybrid as part of architectural built heritage, I decided to find out the qualities, the conditions of the project before and after the fall of the wall together with the international team, giving the students the freedom of character of their results. They decided individually weather to develop transformation concepts, re-programming of the existing or artistic comments about the retrieved historic representation.

[Fig. 11] Nordrand 45, Stasi main administration building in Cottbus, Brandenburg. Photos: Dagmar Jäger, Montage: Christian Pieper, 2010
[Fig. 11] Nordrand 45, Stasi main administration building in Cottbus, Brandenburg. Photos: Dagmar Jäger, Montage: Christian Pieper, 2010

Next to individual spatial experiences on-site, given conditions and the investigation of the plans about future developments of the owner, potential positions of co-activists about this heritage, diverse private interests, intentions of the urban planning department of the town etc. should be revealed, to think about interpretation, alternative designs or programming in transforming the existing. A citizen landscape that had one of the highest amounts of state security employees per inhabitant during the 80s short before the fall of the wall seemed to require a public discourse about the important political heritage and its opportunities for the city.

[Fig. 11a] 99 Ways of Deconstruction, Nordrand 45, 2010-12-16 WS1_4, Jose A. Pavon Gonzalez, José De La Peña, Elena Herwarth von Bittenfeld, Class-01
[Fig. 11a] 99 Ways of Deconstruction, Nordrand 45, 2010-12-16 WS1_4, Jose A. Pavon Gonzalez, José De La Peña, Elena Herwarth von Bittenfeld, Class-01

Investigation: Relation-building by tracing and mapping

The students of the first class had the task to develop an architectural or artistic interpretation and a scenario of the site. Together with some home students, they had the opportunity to immerge into the complex' main administration building of the 60s. The first step of the workshop and the mind opener of the process was a 1:1 approach to the site and allowed an emphatic and atmospheric experiencing of the site's characteristics. We initiated the design work with a artistic tracing of the existing to enable the affective appropriation of the context by each student individually. The artistic disputation should result in the realization of a built installation, an interpretation of the lost and found. I invited colleagues of the chair of sculpture to work in a team. Guest lecturers of art, politics, urban planning and further witnesses of the time informed the design research in order to give the students from 8 different countries a contextual, historic and interdisciplinary knowledge for their position finding process.

Experimenting new spheres of interpretation

The initial dialogue of the students with the building enabled a growing familiarity with the building's qualities by working on the spot itself, discovering the materiality and spaces of the building and its urban context and the neighbourhood during different times of the day. Our expectation of a strong concept as an individual position of each student or team on the one hand side and their freedom of choice in means, tools and resulting design concepts, initiated a strong dynamic in the international group. A large variety of concepts also dealing with installations, dialogical process designs and open comments resulted far away from traditional architectural typologies but entering in unknown spheres of investigations, artistic interpreting comments or interactive events.

[Fig. 12a] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Kaisa-Lasner, Class-01
[Fig. 12a] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Kaisa-Lasner, Class-01

[Fig. 12b] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Anne-Gross + Sebastian-Seyfarth, Class-01
[Fig. 12b] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Anne-Gross + Sebastian-Seyfarth, Class-01

 [Fig. 12c] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16  WS1_1 Hyungi-Jung, Class-01
[Fig. 12c] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16  WS1_1 Hyungi-Jung, Class-01

[Fig. 12d] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Eduardo-Magno, Class-01
[Fig. 12d] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Eduardo-Magno, Class-01

[Fig. 12e] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Raiko-Reinson + Jaan Kuusemets, Class-01
[Fig. 12e] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Raiko-Reinson + Jaan Kuusemets, Class-01

[Fig. 12f] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Pille-Noole, Class-01
[Fig. 12f] Analytic Mapping, 2010-11-16 WS1_1 Pille-Noole, Class-01

The answers for the future of the building ranged from an interdisciplinary investigation of multiple destruction methods and representations, regarding the enormous cultural history of building destruction throughout the 20th century, up to careful geographical mapping and artistic interpretation of the state security estates throughout the GDR, dismantling spatial organisation tools of state security practice during the decades of GDR oppression up to visually mapping of atmospheres.

The students dared a lot in sense of experimenting unknown strategies: They organized interactive evenings with the local inhabitants of the neighbourhood to discuss expectations concerning the future of the site; they developed interactive performances in dialogue with the building and its neighbourhood or transformative, participatory projects, sending pieces of original material from the building into letter boxes (of ancient apartments of unofficial staff members of the state security); or they enabled the looking towards new horizons for changing the perception of the building by interactive installations during the night, to provoke atmospheres or reactions of local walkers. The press of the city commented our exhibition with an article "Geschichte in 780 Briefkästen" (history in 780 letter boxes) the same day of presentation.

[Fig. 13] Press Commentary: "History in 780 Postboxes". Project: Pieces of Memory, 2010-12-16 WS1_4 Niklas Thies, Franziska Ganzer, Anna Heda Reuter, Class-01
[Fig. 13] Press Commentary: "History in 780 Postboxes". Project: Pieces of Memory, 2010-12-16 WS1_4 Niklas Thies, Franziska Ganzer, Anna Heda Reuter, Class-01

[Fig. 14] Selected Results of Workshop 1 at Cottbus [CBU]: "Transformation of the Building(s) of the ancient GDR Secret Service in Cottbus (Nordrand 45)", 2010
[Fig. 14] >>>Selected Results of Workshop 1 at Cottbus [CBU]: "Transformation of the Building(s) of the ancient GDR Secret Service in Cottbus (Nordrand 45)", 2010 >>>

V:III_1.1.4 Design Process in Dialogue with Ancient Political Prisoners (3rd Project)

On top of results and experiences of the first projects, both discussed through public presentations, commented in daily newspapers and exhibited in public spaces, the responsible of the just founded centre for human rights in Cottbus, Silvia Wähling, part of our presentation guests in 2010, invited me to think about the future programming of the biggest ancient jail of political imprisonment of the state security, situated in Cottbus, Bautzener Straße, together with the next international student group and within the frame of the workshop of spatial strategy in autumn 2011.

The GDR ministry earned a considerable amount of foreign currency by 'selling' famous political prisoners of this prison to Western Germany for their freedom and by selling export products that have been produced on the prison industry part by the inmates. In the end of 2010, when coordinating the research cooperation, the founded centre had just been in the preparation period of developing the transformation process, the re-programming of a political memorial and contemporary place of democratic education and debate. So, in this case, next to analysing the complex built heritage site, a hybrid and coherent programming of memorial, conference space, hotel, academy and exhibition had to be developed. Next to the historic and spatial, visible and invisible qualities of the urban and architectural context, inner-spatial qualities had to be investigated carefully for being able to design adequate and multi perspectival results.

The people engaged in the initiative were ancient political prisoners who had suffered under the conditions of the GDR imprisonment, knowing the prison of Bautzenerstraße in detail. The foundation members represent an exceptionally site-experienced expert ownership group with insider knowledge about the inscribed memory of the place.

Contemporary memorial place: Hybrid programming of a historical site

Discovering the site, again we found a big and closed city in the city, a complex of diverse building typologies, housing not only the main typology of a cell-building prison architecture dating back to the 19th century (the first building from 1859), but also including younger post-war heritage of industrial production (export production), further administration buildings and even traces of a former church as part of the historic prison ensemble. The prison complex had grown during more than a century within one single complex prison typology with the main function of imprisonment, but encroached on political jail not only through the state security of the GDR, but already in the first decade of the 20th century under the Nazis. Different to the heterogeneous hybrid typologies of the first projects of the state security heritage, which have been converted stepwise during several decades towards the new function of the state security needs, the multi-functional composition of the prison complex from the beginning on had been developed within one architectural and functional concept and at the border of the historical city ring.

We had the opportunity to support the volunteer initiative of the activists with a research by design, the interdisciplinary university think tank, to first investigate historical and spatial qualities on-site and in dialogue with the insiders, find out inscribed experiences of the site to experiment concepts of transformation of the prison towards an open memorial and museum place within the city. We worked in cooperation with an interdisciplinary research team of the university, chair of architecture history, of art and architecture heritage, taught by expert and student lectures and invited witnesses.

[Fig. 15a] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Entrance Sequence
[Fig. 15a] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Entrance Sequence

[Fig. 15b] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Moving from Group Cell
[Fig. 15b] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Moving from Group Cell

[Fig. 15c] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Moving from Isolation Cell
[Fig. 15c] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Moving from Isolation Cell

[Fig. 15d] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Secret Communication
[Fig. 15d] Case Study Mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Antje Heymann, Marine Tillet, Class-02, Prisoner's Procedure, Secret Communication

Tracing and mapping experiences

In a solution-open process with the people engaged, all steps of our work – the investigation, development of functional programmes and design of concepts for a contemporary memorial place – took into account the special insider experiences, the subjective knowledge about the site, the former spatial rituals, regularities, informal life and individual (exemplary) experiences next to the former spatial and functional qualities. One of the long-run political inmates, the author Siegmar Faust, at this time already one of the very engaged political survivors of the torture of the GDR imprisonment and member of the management board, who has undergone a heavy period in the isolation cell, the "tiger cell" (S. Faust, who stayed there about 300 days), was one of the supporters accompanying our design research process, next to the director of the centre with important subjective remembrance for tracing and mapping the experiences in dialogue with the students, contributing to a very sage view about the young history towards the international group.

Opening of mind and discourse: Intercultural case study

The spatial character of this closed city in a city again presented us with one of the key qualities of the typology, a set of built border representations of fences, walls, open space compounds, iron bars etc. but even though with lots of traces of social life of imprisonment, especially hidden or visible traces of the prisoner's daily life.

In contrary to the first research group of the Nordrand 45 in 2010, which explored multifaceted case study typologies in accordance to their individual concepts and goals to inform their multi-disciplinary design processes, the second international group has been working within one cooperative design team, to develop the memorial typology but from different ends of the design tasks and scales towards one multi-perspectival picture of a potential solution. The first mind opener, the individual artistic tracing with freely chosen visual means, served for individual appropriation of the site's characteristic, showing individual views and discoveries and topics of potential concepts. The objectivised analyses of different mapping tasks about most possible relevant topics and scales have led to the teams building on urban, architecture, inner-spatial concepts and scales.

[Fig. 16a] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02
[Fig. 16a] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02

[Fig. 16b] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02
[Fig. 16b] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02

[Fig. 16c] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02
[Fig. 16c] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02

[Fig. 16d] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02
[Fig. 16d] Analytic mapping, 2011-11-15 WS1_2 Pierre-Broca, Gonçalo Ponces, Carlos Sixte, Class-02

One superordinate goal for the complete research group

The diverse approaches have been developed by different working teams but towards one collective aim: The investigation of the optional conversion of the complex towards a memorial and museum typology. For this goal, we defined one collective, superordinate concept: the interpretation of the inscribed experiences of the materialized site trying to incorporate the individual spatial experiences and memories of the inmates. Each student could choose individual case study examples for analysing built memorials of their home countries between Germany, France, Bangladesh, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Iran and Portugal: The presentation did not only reveal individual experiences within the research field, but opened the positions of each of the young people towards the others, coming from different cultural and political backgrounds, continents with heterogeneous historical contexts, dealing the history of dictatorships and its political reflection today. {During this project, I had to reflect also my biographical background with the topic: My father, educated and working as interior designer in East Germany, sought refuge in Western Germany shortly before the wall was built.}

To achieve the objective after only six weeks of work – the public exhibition and presentation of the results in the town hall of Cottbus with the municipality, local stakeholders and the board of the future museum –was a tough challenge for the international design group.

[Fig. 17] Exhibition at the town hall of Cottbus, 'Difficult Heritage', 2011
[Fig. 17] Exhibition at the town hall of Cottbus, 'Difficult Heritage', 2011

Multi perspective solutions – resulting from critical processes of cooperation

Starting a series of 8 project workshops during a 2-year Master's Programme with the topic of difficult, political built heritage has been indeed a challenge for all of us. The strong ambition of each member of the international group, the new social and professional circumstances of work and life context and the mixture of 8 different cultural backgrounds from 3 continents produce high expectations but also high tensions.

The resulting success of developing a multi perspectival position and design solution within the group together, after a hard period of six weeks work, endless debates, disputes and sometimes struggles, hard and critical roundtables and working days, has been a risqué but profitable kick-off project: Individual receptions and new perspectives, worked out knowledge about the history of the typology, about the spatial experiences of the inmates and horizons for a coherent concept of a possible architectural conversion with urban strategies and inner-spatial detailed proposals of exhibition design at the end we were able to discuss about.

In the meantime, and on top of our design process in 2011, the centre has established an open memorial, museum and conference space, with an accompanying vivid political discourse about Nazi and GDR dictatorships and a sensible place of political dialogue about democracy, focusing on victims of both political imprisonment periods, the Nazi time and the GDR time. This project gave the reason for a European Master's thesis topic choice of the previous, parallel class, which entered in the final period of their studies:

[Fig. 20] Press commentary: Cottbus prison memorial. Radio Berlin Brandenburg, 2011
[Fig. 20] Press commentary: Cottbus prison memorial. Radio Berlin Brandenburg, 2011

V:III_1.1.5 Re-discovery of an European Prison Typology of the 19th Century (4th Project)

While developing the adequate Master's thesis with the students and the professor's network of 8 universities of Europe in autumn 2011 with the tool of preparatory, multiple brain storming round tables, we discovered, next to the prison plot Cottbus Bautzener Straße, two comparable historic prison plots out of function – in Tallinn' s urban coastal harbour district of Kalamaja, the Patarei see-fortress prison complex and the Portuguese historic prison heritage in Lisbon's city centre of the 19th century, designed as final point of an important representative urban axis, expanding the city towards the north from the 18th century Baixa Pombalina district, partly still used as prison but perhaps in the meantime out of function.

Comparison of a European typology

The comparative investigation of 3 historic prison typologies of the 19th century promised to be a real chance, to compare a European architecture heritage to its different ancient and nowadays backgrounds of political and social conditions. Each built heritage represents one specific alternative of built design, spatial and functional organization within the historic but new typology during this period of enlightenment, a first step towards humanization of panel systems. We had to consider the public discourses and actual planning intentions of today with view to the future developments and visions of the citizens. 3 project and research teams in Cottbus, Tallinn and Lisbon focused the current ideas of the city, to understand the site itself, to develop site-specific and different design strategies while developing the transformation of the heritage in 3 independent research clusters, to discuss the alternative solutions with the group of international students and professors of the Reiseuni_lab after the first two years of the new Master's Programme.

[Fig. 21] Historic plan material, illustration of Üllar Ambos, Class-01, Master's thesis cluster Lisbon, 2012-09-26
[Fig. 21] Historic plan material, illustration of Üllar Ambos, Class-01, Master's thesis cluster Lisbon, 2012-09-26

How to transform a political built heritage

The four-week workshop "Design methods. Reflection 2" has been preparing the research period and alternative strategies, investigating basic knowledge, plan material and literature about the European architecture typology, to analyse the material about the city plot. First collective analytic mappings of urban historic developments during the 18th and 19th century and of the specific urban contexts of the plots today have been worked out. The project design work was realized on site in individual research teams and under the supervision of the local professors of the 3 universities in Lisbon, Cottbus, and Tallinn, working in coordinated exchange and in debate about in-between results during the whole period.

Key questions from the beginning on have been: "How to programme a political heritage complex towards nowadays needs of urban contexts", "How to transform a political heritage with respect to the history and the experiences of the inmates", and "How to confront the conventional expectations with new approaches, strategies or opportunities of unknown horizons, perceptions and functional needs", and of course the question "about the adequate future strategy and programming of the cities within the specific cultural, local developments" of touristification in Lisbon, in competition to the existing, strongly elaborated memorial landscape in the eastern part of Germany, and in the context of dynamic economic architectural development of the city of Tallinn.

During half a year, the 19 research results of the class have been worked out seriously, showing urban and architectural analysis and project solutions, unfolding historic layers, complex contexts, developing hybrid programming, showing diverse architectural schools, individual different but strong positions, different aesthetic and political standpoints, which have been debatable and sometimes even amazing. The European Architecture Dialogue held in Berlin in 2012 with presentation, three days symposium and exhibition in the Academy of Art in Berlin, Hansaviertel, had a strong impact on the unfolding debate culture between members of the Reiseuni_lab with the Master's students and their fellow students, altogether uniting architects, professors and students from more than 12 nationalities.

>>>More Vol:III_12.3. [MT] Concluding Summary: Multifaceted Interfaces.

V:III_1.1.6 Epilogue – Cultural Appropriation Means Transformation

 "In the essence of these things, as places, lies the relation of place and space, lies the relation of place to man, too." [1]

The understanding of the world is a basic human need. The individual unfolds in dialogical action and comprehends. The design or interpretation of buildings or the programming of urban ensembles within the historical-political context presupposes the intellectual and material appropriation of the difficult history and its architectural substance as well. In the dialogical process between the individual, the team and the place, its physical, materialized history and his discovered traces, comprehension takes place. In the process of shaping the concept and at the same time in the process of increasing the individual consciousness, the place goes through the designer — in comprehensive appropriation — and becomes part of a transformation process. Through the thought process of developing a solution and through insights connected to it, a new, transformed perception of the place is brought about with a new way of seeing that no longer can be the old (or the first) one.

[Fig. 23] Adoption – Schnittmuster Strategie. Collage Christian Pieper, 2007
[Fig. 23] Adoption – Schnittmuster Strategie. Collage Christian Pieper, 2007

Tradition continues – aesthetic translation

The contextual transformation process in architectural design results in the sharing of discoveries between the different parties involved, flattening established hierarchies, expanding knowledge of the subject and democratizing the process. Through the transformation process of appropriation, an interplay and dialogue is established between the different team-members. Their personal associations, intentions and specific interests automatically lead to a multi-perspectival understanding of the subject, its history and layered context, as well as a sharpened perception of the place and its requirements. The partners in the dialogue profit from an expansion of their references and develop an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving and a broader understanding of the issues involved.

Tradition continues through aesthetic translation, nevertheless transformed by the perspective of the viewer. "Tradition is inherent in insight itself, as the conveying momentum of its objects" and insight "participates in tradition as unaware memory;" [2] thus it brings about a transformed continuity of what already exists: the past and present interdisciplinary context of the site, its genius loci becomes the object of reference of one who seeks a design position in order to "not abstractly negate tradition but criticize it non-naively according to the present condition: thus, what is present will constitute what is past." [3] The work of designing within the conditions of young built heritage and its historic difficult contexts, which are transformatively preserved or interpreted or modified, confronts the present and past in an interdisciplinary way.

Recognition by any artistic research method of tracing or scientific analysis and individual research by design is not possible without judgmental attribution of significance. Assessments are subject to experiences and traditions and thus part of valid generalizations. Valid generalizations are passed on for consensus as stereotypes in the historical process; as such they become commonly accepted, immovable and difficult to criticize. The selection of spatial and aesthetic points of reference from present and past creates the critical framework, in which to rediscover what respectively has been designed under intended priorities, to assess the existing and finally interpret the discovered context through developing spatial positions, transformation or conversion approaches, new programmes, critical comments, installations, insertions and new functions.

[Fig. 24] Round Table 'Schaffensprozesse im Dialog' at UdK Berlin, final discussion. Photo: Christian Pieper, 2009
[Fig. 24] Round Table 'Schaffensprozesse im Dialog' at UdK Berlin, final discussion. Photo: Christian Pieper, 2009

Research by design: (Self-) reflection in dialogue

The growth of knowledge and the initiation of a critical debate culture is a key task for universities. It is the purpose of research by design. Open discourse in universities facilitates engagement. The individual professor's concerns of research are verbalized in the workshop programmes and further answered in the design process in dialogue with the student teams; and in this way, in a first step everybody involved becomes overt. "To profess is to pledge oneself while declaring oneself," writes Jacques Derrida in his essay The University Without Condition. [4] In the best case, this means opening-up new spaces of thought, sharing knowledge, collectively developing new thoughts and projects and creating a knowledge network – in artistically influenced as well as scientific disciplines. In the university discourse, thought constructs are presented and questioned, criticism is expressed, and positions are defended. The discussion changes the mind-set and the level of knowledge, and it is capable of transforming the mindscape of individuals and their relationship to one another and between the specialist disciplines, between methods and subjects. A lively dialogue among all involved people and disciplines about insights and projects that are in the process of becoming creates knowledge – the needed stone for further building above.

[Dagmar Jäger, August 2014]

[1] Martin Heidegger, "Bauen Wohnen Denken", in: Vorträge und Aufsätze (1952), Stuttgart 1954, 9. Ed. 2000, (1952 Neue Darmstädter Verlagsanstalt), pp. 139-157.
[2] Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik. Jargon der Eigentlichkeit (1966), Volume 6 of the collected writings, Frankfurt a.M. 1990, p 63.
[3] Theodor W. Adorno, Ästhetische Theorie, Volume 7 of the collected writings, Frankfurt a.M., p. 68.
[4] Jacques Derrida: The University Without Condition, in: Derrida and Peggy Kamuf, ed./trans. Without Alibi. Stanford University Press, 2002, p. 215.

The epilogue is based on my reflections and key terminology, developed in: "Begreifen durch Transformation", in: "Schnittmuster Strategie. Eine dialogische Entwurfslehre". Reimer 2008, pp. 357.

Bibliographic Information:
Jäger, Dagmar, Transformation of Difficult Heritage. In: Reiseuni Report | The Making of. European Architecture Dialogue. Jäger, Dagmar (Ed.); Pieper, Christian (Ed.) et al.; Reiseuni_lab: Berlin, 2017; Vol:III_1., ISBN:978-3-00-055521-3, DOI:10.978.300/0555213,

Class-01: 08.11.-19.12.2010 Workshop 1 at Cottbus [CBU]
at Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus,
Faculty 2 - Architecture, Civil Engineering and Urban Planning
International Master's Programme A.S.G. / Reiseuni_lab, Module "Spatial Strategies"
Professor's Team:
V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger, programme director (workshop responsible), in cooperation with the dept. sculpture and space, colleagues of the faculty and invited guest lecturers of different disciplines.

Topic of the Workshop

For the international group of students, this first six-week project workshop in Cottbus in Germany (within the total sequence of eight different tasks and sites during 3 semesters) opens the opportunity, to experience and understand the specific young and mostly difficult history of Germany within a precise architectural typology, within a specific political landscape of the former GDR and within a given space and urban territory of a building complex in the 20th century city of Cottbus, in order to develop a concrete task of "transforming the existing":

The interpretation of the ancient office building as part of a complex of the former GDR-Ministry of Secret Service in Cottbus towards a new future of the plot.

Actually, the Nordrand 45 building complex is out of function, empty and in the process of destruction by the time of being un-used, mostly by vandalism. Nowadays, the ancient representation of the state security administration and non-democratic power forms the part of a private investor's housing project, homing luxury apartments and single-family houses on the ground of the ancient state security site. The student's individual artistic perceptions and multi-faceted architectural positions shall enrich the nowadays non-existing critical discourse of the city about "difficult heritage" at the time of the workshop, to discuss the future of an exemplary politically architectural heritage of the city with the international group and their open-minded view towards the site and its future opportunities, with local activists and responsible people of the town and the university.

The first understanding of the given building out of function as a pure and lost space with its specific qualities of space, material, construction, urban context etc., starts by an individual "Spurensuche" as a strategy of perception and discovery – search for traces on-site – with all possible, physical means. This first step represents the starting point to enable the dialogue and process of getting in touch with the building and its atmosphere and surrounding, to create and develop individual interpretations from the given, in scale 1:1 and through first on-site installations. Then, on top of the emphatic understanding of each member of the group, the different and optional proposals will be developed at all scales as results of selected teamwork processes.

The strategy of the workshop is organized in 4 different periods and integrates artistic and scientific methods of analysis to enable the students the investigation of the history of the site and it's traces; we experiment multiple approaches of spatial, aesthetical and programmatic transformations and discuss design in the fields of history, of political and sociological structures and with selected case studies, as well as a various range of exemplary artistic works which will be introduced by guest lecturers – to enable the primarily first artistic strategy of "Spurensuche", the individual search for traces of history and second the formulating of an architectural position as commentary of the existing or as a concept for a temporary or long distance new function. In this methodological frame, we will examine the reflection of spatial, political, historical and socio-cultural components of the building and its immediate surroundings.

The final task for the students is to develop an optional spatial and architectural future of the building – without monetary interests or given limits but with the expectation of "dealing with the existing", resulting from a specific investigation and individual understanding of the "found"; the solutions or answers might range between destruction up to a new programming or architectural concepts; all approaches and answers of the students are allowed as far as the arguing and understanding is based on a strong and discursive concept, its visualization with the adequate means and a clear individual position to be discussed by the team of students and professors in the final presentation.

11 Lectures MFS

We 10.11.2010

V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger: "Ministerium für Staatssicherheit; Transformations, Berlin Normannenstraße"
V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Schwarting: 'Building Space as Ressource of Research'
Sigmar Faust, Author and Prominent member of Menschenrechtszentrum Cottbus

Tue 16.11.2020

Yvonne Wahl (Artist) with Jörg S. (ancient unofficial informant IM) 'About the work of the Stasi in Cottbus'.

We 17.11.2010

Gerd Mielke: Project developer and director of Quattrohaus GmbH & Co. KG, Cottbus

Tue 23.11.2010

Hans-Christian Trapp (Student BTU): Joseph Beuys

Tue 30.10.2010

Lageegal. Pierre Granoux, Artist, Berlin: Duchamps and the physical & virtual traces

We 01.12.2010

Prof. Karen Eisenloffel (Architect & Engineer): Dieselkraftwerk. Constructive transformation of the existing (cancelled)

Tue 07.12.2010

Dipl.-Ing. Elke Richter (Alumni BTU): Memorial prison Hohenschönhausen, Berlin. Report about the Master Thesis

Tue 14.12.2010

Dr. Christian Halbrock, Birthler Behörde, Berlin: Research on Stasi-Buildings and Functions.

Architectour 6-9:

Excursions around the topic, case studies and the German architecture (Berlin Hohenschönhausen, Bautzen). Details at Reiseuni-calendar.

Team of Professors and Lecturers:

V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger (responsible) in cooperation with the department of sculpture and space, Prof. Jo Achermann and Yvonne Wahl (assistant professor), with guest lecturers Stephanie Kaindl, architect Berlin, Carola Ebert, architect and lecturer Berlin/Kassel, Barbara Ludescher, architect Studioberlin, V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Schwarting, chair of history of architecture, Dipl.-Ing. Eva Krapf, chair of building structures and structure systems, Pierre Granoux, artist Lageegal, Berlin.

Programme "Spatial Strategies": 4 Phases


1 _ First Reading of the Building

Introduction week: Lectures. Site visits. Readings of traces.
TASK 1: 1st reading of the building: Site-specific installations 1 : 1 _ "Find something you are interested in and visualize a story out of it. Fictional, real, political, autobiographical, whatever.."
Outcome (1): 1:1 Installation on site. Photo documentation
16.11.2010: Presentation


2 _ Site Analysis & Design Concept 1

Individual work on site, reading of plans, research of information, collecting and focusing topics in accordance to the concept and found traces. Focusing the individual objectives.
TASK 2: Formulate a topic / concept within the individual position towards spatial performance, installation or architectural or urban project or research.
Outcome (2): Presentation with models, objects, plans, all sorts of sketches
26.11.2010: Presentation with the professors' team and guest lecturers


3 _ Research and Programme

INBETWEEN SUMMARY & REFLECTION to define personal standpoints and interests, to reduce the range of possibilities and questions towards teams and research clusters, and to describe your objectives within the workshop time limits.
TASK 3: 8h Programme: Write down (1) the title of your work / approach & describe in one sentence your individual topic / question, (2) write a short description of the 1st reading, (3) and short description of the necessary research fields, sketch the programme of your concept and (4) name your objectives and means of your result(s).
TASK 4: Work out your individual research field in accordance to your topic and towards the final position and presentation of workshop 1.
Outcome (3): Text max. one page, max 500 words (4) Presentation in the adequate means.
01.12.2010: Presentation of Text.
07.12.2010: Presentation of the research Results.


4 _ Concept 2

TASK 5: In accordance to your individual topic, concept, programme and your objectives precise and realize your spatial / aesthetic / architecture standpoint towards the future of the building.
Outcome (4): Near or long-distance spatial or programmatic concepts or interventions, or theoretical or aesthetic commentaries, choice of all necessary means of visualizing the process & results.
16.12.2010: (5) Final presentation with the professors's team & guests of the city
Details about daily schedule: see online calendar

Literature recommended:

The students will select literature and case studies in accordance to their individual focus, after the first "reading of traces"

[Programme: V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger, Cottbus, October 2010]


Class-02: 07.11.-16.12.2011 Workshop 1 at Cottbus [CBU]
at Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus
International Master's Programme A.S.G. / Reiseuni_lab, Module "Transformation & Design"
Faculty 2 - Architecture, Civil Engineering and Urban Planning
Professor's Team:
V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger, programme director and workshop responsible, with Christiane Fichtner, Artist, Bremen; in cooperation with the department of history of architecture, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Rheidt and a team of interdisciplinary guest lecturers.

Topic of the Workshop

The former central prison in Cottbus is located near the railway station on the inner beltway and represents an isolated, uncomfortable place in the middle of the city. Since 2007, the Centre for Human Rights in Cottbus – a foundation whose members are former political prisoners of the Secret Police (Stasi) and inmates of the prison – has been trying with great commitment to transform the biggest political jail of the GDR into a place of remembrance of the state terror under dictatorships, as well as a place for encounter and political education.

The building fabric dates back to a first prison erected here in 1859 and was repeatedly altered due to war destruction, demolitions, as well as due to new constructions and conversions. Political prisoners were housed here from 1933 to 1945 and from 1945 to 1989. In 1945, following the destructions suffered during World War II, the prison was reconstructed by the administration of justice with contingents for 600 inmates but was at times occupied by up to 2500 prisoners. In the late 60s and 70s, out of the 800 to 1200 inmates, approximately 600 were political prisoners. In the 80s, the inmates were used almost without exception for forced labour in shifts and were assigned inhuman workloads. The various functions covered by the prison and the treatment of the prisoners have left behind visible traces on the complex plot, which should be understood, documented and integrated in concepts for a memorial place.

The workshop will develop and propose various spatial concepts for the future commemorative and educational work of the foundation for open and public discussion, with particular respect to the experiences of the place in the 20th century. The building ensemble, with its history and the traces of its inmates' destiny, should constitute the framework for diverse concepts for dialogue, memory, awareness building and historical interpretation. Multifaceted spatial configurations should create free room for creative and critical activities.

For this purpose, it is necessary that the imaginary prison cells, production sites and empty courtyards are analysed in order to be transformed into places for lively, discursive and heterogeneous juxtaposition with the more recent German history. Another central topic will be how to deal with the authenticity of the built fabric and how to identify the traces of the past. The opening of a place of confinement, where political prisoners were tortured under the dictatorships of the NSDP and GDR regimes, with its control mechanisms and instruments that could be found even in the structure of the building, requires a well-balanced overall concept. The spatial plans must make reference to the history of the building; the elements that are no longer visible should be thematically identified and emphasized; new functions and individual areas for exhibitions and various other activities should be defined; guidance and crossing points between all the participants involved in the project should be integrated in the overall concept.

The international team of students will start with individual investigations and perceptions, to deepen one selected concept with different teams of interest, to investigate different options within the concept, within different scales (from urban to the exhibition scale), different aspects and conclusions of the concept and different options of the collective final project within the whole research group. The results will be presented in the town hall and finally discussed with responsible stakeholders and activists of the city & the foundation.

Key Context

  • History of the GDR and the former Secret Police (Stasi)
  • Genius Loci: Town, site, building complex
  • Punishment and imprisonment (architectural and social history and built typology)


  • V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger, Director A.S.G., Design Methods  (responsible)
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Rheidt, Department Architecture History, BTU
  • Christiane Fichtner, Artist, Bremen (Guest lecturer BTU)
  • Pierre Granoux, LageEgal Berlin, French Artist (Guest lecturer BTU)

Guest lecturers

Programme "Transformation & Design" – 4 Phases

  • [E1] Subjective Reading of the slot, Plan reading (Individual work)
  • [E2] Case Study: Memorials and educational establishments / exhibition and museal concepts / architecture-built examples of rehabilitation (Individual work)
  • [E3] Urban concept, (interior) spatial concepts for pathways and guidance (1:2500)
    Group Work: the best result will be chosen for the next steps
  • [E4] Architecture Project: design approaches for the transformation of existing buildings and new functions / for additional buildings, inner spacial concepts, pathways and squares (1: 200-50); teams of 2-3 students will deepen selected elements of the urban concept
    (Details of the schedule, rooms, times, lecturers, see calendar)



Mo 7.11.

11 am-3 pm: Side Visit Bautzener Straße (with Marcel Gruber)
4-5 pm: Introduction Workshop and [E1] (Dagmar Jäger)
5-6 pm: Lecture: Cottbus and the Stasi (Simone Wendler)

Tu 8.11.

9 am-1 pm: Studio Work [1] & Desk Crits (Christiane Fichtner)
2-4 pm: Lecture: Urban History Cottbus (Klaus Rheidt)
4-6 pm: Lecture: Transformation of MFS Heritage (Dagmar Jäger)

We 9.11

9 am-1 pm: Studio Work [1]
5-6 pm: Lecture: Architecture for a human imprisonment (Jörg Kühn)

Thu 10.11

9-11 pm: Studio Work [E1]
11.30-1 pm: Lecture: Urban Strategies (Frank Schwartze)
2-3.30 pm: Lecture: Future Concept of the Owners (Sylvia Wähling)
4-6 pm: Presentation [E1] (with Guests S. Waehling)

Fri 11.11

Day: Studio Work [E2]

Sat 12.11

Field Trip: Bautzen Memorial (Christiane Fichtner, Siegmar Faust)


Mo 14.11.
9-4 pm: Studio Work [E2]

5-6 pm: Lecture: Prison Research (K. Rheidt about Seminar Results)

Tue 15.11.

9-1 pm: Studio Work [E2]
2am-6pm: Presentation [E2] (with Guests S. Waehling, S. Faust)

Wed 16.11.

11 am-1 pm: Brain Storming / Discussion: Urban Concept [E3]
2-5 pm: Field Trip new Prison Cottbus (Jörg Kühn, to be confirmed)
5-8 pm: Studio Work [E3] Desk Crits (C. Fichtner)

Thu 17.11.

11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: Designing & building in historic context (I. Baller)
Day: Studio Work [E3]

Fri 18.11.

Day: Studio Work [E3]

Sat 19.11.

Day: Field Trip Berlin: Stasimuseum / Mauergedenkstätte ao.


Mo 21.11.

9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E3]
11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: Designing and building in historic context, temporary use (Luise Rellensmann)
2-3 pm: Lecture: Contextual artistic strategies (Pierre Granoux)

Tue 22.11

9 am-1 pm: Studio Work [E3]

2-6 pm: Presentation [E3] (with guests S. Waehling, S. Faust)

Wed 23.11.

11-1 pm: Brain storming concepts [E4] (D. Jäger, C. Fichtner)
2 pm-7 pm: Studio Work [E4] Desk Crits (D. Jäger, C. Fichtner)

Thu 24.11.

9 am-6 pm: Studio Work [E4]
Afternoon with Desk Crits (C. Fichtner, P. Granoux)

Fri 25.11.

9 am-4 pm: Studio Work [E4]

Sat 26.11.

Day: Field Trip Berlin: Jüdisches Museum, Top. d. Terrors a.o.


Mo 28.11.

9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E4]

Tue 29.11.

9 am-6 pm: Studio Work [E4]
Afternoon with Desk Crits (D. Jäger, C. Fichtner, K. Rheidt)

Wed 30.11.

9 am-1 pm: Studio Work [E4]
2-3.30 pm: Lectures 9: Working about flexible Spaces (Stephanie Kaindl)
2-6 pm: In between Discussion / Results [E4]

Thu 1.12.

9 am-6 pm: Studio Work [E4]
Afternoon with Desk Crits (C. Fichtner, P. Granoux)
11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: City development and Memory: The Wall in Berlin (Dr. Axel Klausmeier)

Fri 2.12.

9 am-6 pm: Studio Work [E4]

Sat 3.12.

Day: Field Trip Berlin: "Trotz alledem und alledem" a.o.


Mo 5.12.

11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: Ruins and Archaeological Sites (Leo Schmidt)
9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E4]

Tue 6.12.

Day: Studio Work [E4]
2-6 pm: Studio Work with Desk Crits (C. Fichtner, P. Granoux)

Wed 7.12.

9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E4] Afternoon Desk Crits (Jäger, Fichtner, Franke)
2-3 pm: Lecture: Exhibition Design (Vera Franke)

Thu 8.12.

11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: Creating Heritage: Archaeological Explorations of Berlin's Recent Past, Berghain, Techno and the Cyber Punks (John Schofield, Wayne Cocroft, Luise Rellensmann)
9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E4]
Afternoon with Desk Crits (C. Fichtner, D. Jäger)

Fri 9.12.

9 am-7 pm: Studio Work [E4]


Mo 12.12.

11.30-1 pm: Lecture WHS: Uncomfortable Monuments: Peenemünde (Leo Schmidt)
Day: Studio Work [E4]

Tue 13.12.

Day: Studio Work [E4]
2-6 pm: Desk Crits (C. Fichtner, D. Jäger)

Wed 14.12.

9 am-1 pm: Studio Work [E4]
2-6 pm: Studio Pin up of Results (C. Fichtner, D. Jäger)

Thu 15.12.

9 am-6 pm: Print of Results
Exhibition Concept and Transport of the Works (C. Fichtner with students)

Frid 16.12.

9-12 am: Preparation of Exhibition in town
2-6 pm: Final Presentation
All Participants are invited to discuss the results with the guests.

More details: see Reiseuni-calendar.


LG2d 1st floor


Mondays 11.30 LG1b  HS3 (Lecture WHS)
Thursdays 11.30 LG 2bBU.17 (Lecture WHS)
Others: LG2d room 107 or 207



Carlos, Jule, Nabila, Araceli, Gonzales, Benoit

3 different and exemplary urban designs, under respect of the task and the programme (to coordinate with group 2) and first next step toward specific 'rules of the participation game'


Pierre, Paulina, Asif

  • Functional programme text (work out of result of last week - e.g. more differentiation of exhibition part etc.)
  • Examination of functions and their interdependence (ca. 3 different diagrams with alternatives)
  • Model of different spatial qualities within the site 1 : 1000 / 500 / 200 (see what is adequate)
  • Model of different functional organisation in alternatives (2-3)


Melody, Pedro, Mehdi, Urbano, Gregor

  • Develop a characteristic logo of the site and its historic and new function (first investigation, concept)
  • Develop a concrete pathway from the town to the site - important route (from the parque, the station, the historic city centre) - plan scale: adequate
  • Investigation of special placing of objects for information in town / on site (Mehdi in contact with Michal - views..)
  • Design concepts for information objects (free standing objects, info panels etc. - concerning formal and material language, what has to deal with the task, function, programme - see group 2 and 4)


Antje, Marine, Michal

  • Investigation of the real prisoner's entrance sequence and first reflections concerning careful design strategy towards a significant pathway of the visitor (Antje, Marine)
  • Investigation of transit / motion areas within the buildings and their visible qualities within the existing - and their potential development towards instrumentalization for needed functions (see group 2 - exchange ideas).
  • Investigation of the whole site towards specific and exemplary, characteristic views - from inside to outside and from outside to inside and first concepts of interventions, only if necessary in sense of placing of info objects etc.

In-between presentation - Delivery

  • Analytic mapping
  • Completed presentation of your first 'creative tracing' - Spurensuche (first week results in one presentation)
  • Case study: one a3 poster (horizontal 420 x 297) per object - horizontal / vertical plans, photographs, short concept description /
    Legend: name of project / place / date / architect - in case of developments - stepwise posters
  • Concept of group work / to be deepen in the following last 2 week

Analytic plan mapping (Group Research)

  • Building context (Melody):
    Plan 1: 5000 / 1: 1000 (scale in accordance to necessity - reference buildings for the site)
  • Water-street-infrastructure-flow (Benoit)
    Plan 1: 10 000 / 5000 / 1: 1000 (scale in accordance to necessity - references towards the site)
  • Historical layers of site (Pedro, Jule)
    Horizontal sections 1 : 200 / 500  first building period (around 1865, and last period GDR 1985)
  • Visual references (Mehdi)
    Plan localization in horizontal sections and photographs (or sketches)
  • Entrance situation (Gregor)
    Horizontal / vertical sections 1: 200 -50 - and exemplary more detailed if possible / necessary
  • Functions site / buildings (Asif)
    Horizontal / vertical sections 1: 200 / 500
  • Facade studies (Urbano)
    Horizontal / vertical sections 1 : 200 / 500
  • Walls & fences (Nabila)
    Horizontal / vertical sections 1 : 200 / 500 - and exemplary more detailed if possible
  • Strolley yards (Araceli)
    Horizontal / vertical sections 1 : 200 -50 - and exemplary more detailed if possible / necessary
  • View inside-out / outside-in (Michal)
    Plan localization in horizontal sections and photographs (or sketches)
  • Prisoner's pathway 1 (Antje)
    Plan concretization in horizontal sections 1 : 200 (or other, if adequate)
  • Prisoner's pathway 2 (Marine)
    Plan localization in horizontal sections 1 : 200 with regard to flow, corridors, stairways, moving spaces (scale to decide adequate)
  • Prison cells 1-3 (Pierre, Gonzales, Carlos)
    Plan 1 : 50/20 - horizontal / vertical section / development drawing of the walls

In-between Presentation timeline

  • 2-2.30: "Spurensuche" Traces – one pdf  - one student is describing (one sentence per observation)
  • 2.30-3: Case Study – one student names the projects and the focus
  • 3-3.30: Analytic mapping 1-7 (3 min. per person)
  • 3.30-4: Analytic mapping 8-13 (3 min. per person)


Group Works:

15 min. per group presentation / 15 minutes discussion

  • 4.30-5: Group 3, Guidance System
  • 5.30-6: Group 2, Programme
  • 6.30-7: Group 4, Pathway
  • 7-7.30: Group 1, Scenario

Literature recommended:

  • English Prisons. An Architectural History. Swindon, English Heritage 2002;
  • FOUCAULT, Michel: Überwachen und Strafen. Die Geburt des Gefängnisses. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp,1995;
  • GRAUL, Hans-Joachim, Der Strafvollzugsbau einst und jetzt, Düsseldorf, Werner-Verl. 1965;
  • JOHNSTON, Norman, Forms of constraint. A History of Prison Architecture. Urbana, Univ. of Illinois Press 2000;
  • KITTAN, Tomas, "Das Zuchthaus Cottbus", 2. Aufl. 2010;
  • Prison Architecture. London, The Architectural Press 1975;

[Programme: V.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Jäger, Cottbus, October 2011]

Bibliographic Information:
Jäger, Dagmar, Workshop Cluster • Cottbus – Germany. In: Reiseuni Report | The Making of. European Architecture Dialogue. Jäger, Dagmar (Ed.); Pieper, Christian (Ed.) et al.; Reiseuni_lab: Berlin, 2017; Vol:III_1., ISBN:978-3-00-055521-3, DOI:10.978.300/0555213,


During the six months' elaboration of the Master's Thesis, complex challenges about "Cultural Transfer" have been delved into within six different cumulative research fields across greater Europe. In cooperation with the international professors' team, 19 postgraduate students have been focusing future opportunities of sustainable architecture and urban design in the field of heritage transformation: Three ancient prison plots of the 19th century have been transformed in Tallinn, Lisbon and Cottbus; the touristic territory of Costa del Sol has been investigated as a cultural landscape; neglected urban typologies in Tel Aviv have been analysed and pushed towards new futures. This final research period is conceptualized as 'individual teamwork' in Germany, Estonia, Spain, Israel and Portugal, from both a practical and a theoretical point of view. The final results have been discussed in the European Architecture Dialogue, the final symposium in Berlin.

>>>V:III_12 [MT] All about the Master's Thesis – Objective & Frame, Conclusions, Topics–Sites, Results

>>>V:III_12.4 [MT] Transformation of the former Central Prison in Cottbus, Bautzenerstraße

Professors' Team:

Prof. Dr. Dagmar Jäger (Cottbus, responsible for the cooperative Thesis), Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Inken Baller & Prof. Arch. Chris Burns (teacher's team of Design Reflection 2, Cottbus) together with the local professors of the Partner Universities, Prof. Arch. Irina Raud & Prof. Arch. Rein Murula (Tallinn), Arch. Ayala Ronel (Tel Aviv), Prof. Arch. Flavio Barbini & Prof. Dr. Ricardo Carvalho (Lisbon), Prof. Dr. Mar Loren (Sevilla), Prof. Dr. Maria Schneider (Innsbruck) and Dr. Arch. Izabela Mironowicz (Wrocław, In-between review), Prof. Dr. Riklef Rambow (Cottbus, 1st Thesis). These professors constitute the jury board during the Master's thesis portfolio evaluation, in-between and final presentation / examination in September 2012.