Curating the Mainstream: The Case of the German Wettbewerbe Aktuell

Torsten Schmiedeknecht

Abstract


Launched in June 1971, the monthly German journal Wettbewerbe Ak­
tuell documents competition results from all over the country with a
wide distribution. Every month the results of six competitions are docu-
mented and published in detail; the prize-winning entries of ten other
competitions being shown in outline. Wettbewerbe Aktuell’s format, its
reference system and division of projects into functional building types,
together with diagrammatic drawings, presents the design of competi-
tion architecture as a logical operation. The layout of the competition
title pages and the overall «fact sheet» aesthetic suggest a desire to cat-
egorise architecture generated by competitions.
This paper is looking at what is perceived to be a reciprocal relationship
between the German evaluates system and the journal Wettbewerbe Ak­
tuell and assesses its influence by considering the role which the cata-
logue style, and particular publication format, plays in the development
of publicly funded German architecture.
The paper in particular examines the results of primary school competi-
tions published in the journal between 1983 and 2001, with a focus on
the use by architects of established types (and sub types). The findings
establish that four predominant types reoccur in the competitions stud-
ied and therefore support the hypothesis of the journal’s impact on the
way that architects approach the design of schemes to be entered into
architectural competitions.

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