City of Tomorrow – revisited
a film by Michaela Schweiger 2005
Man: The story is simple. I am looking for the quarter that was planned for the generation of the future.
It was basically built for my generation, because we hadn’t been born yet.
Woman: Today I’ve been thinking about the time of reconstruction here.
We all had packed suitcases - nobody would have dreamt of taking out a loan.
The expanse of rubble and ruins from which we came: ”What, investing in the future? It never even crossed our minds”..
Man: There was building going on here in 1957. There were high hopes of being re-admitted into the international community - and I was making progress with Elisabeth.
Architect: We must circulate our ideas amongst the people (make our ideas heard by the people).
Man: They have been up for 50 years.
Off: The door.
Woman: Well, the residential area (housing estate) here is a little like an island. You can imagine what it is like to have groups of people ushered through here every day (day by day). You really feel special when hundreds of pairs of eyes look at you.
Man: ......Unbelievable what aesthetic problems people who live here have to put up with.....
Woman: Klaus, but you must say.....(admit...)
Man: In some parts of the building there is still the original linoleum. Can you believe it?
Young man: Some send in whole teams of builders before they move in. And then they put down parquet, because they don’t like the linoleum somehow.
Woman: This is still the original linoleum, it is great. I don’t understand all this fuss about a bit of floor covering. I have started to clean it up.
Man: We have had everything repaired, even the elevator, at our own expense. I had this done because I cannot bear it. Seeing holes in the floor gives me herpes. Can’t bear it.
Woman: I can just imagine what it’d be like when visitors come. They’d already feel like leaving before they even entered the hall - that worn linoleum.
Young man: And our tilt-widows, still the original ones. That’s how Volvos were built at the time. They are really the Volvos amongst tilt-windows.
Man: The door.
Older man: I built walls to separate the open plan living area. It proved far more practical with the children if you can occasionally shut the door.
Woman: Although it is nice and modern, it is in the wrong surroundings.(location).
Woman: And with the new neighbourhood, the federal president for example, it is not surprising to see a tank parked on the academy parking lot when the political situation is a little unstable.
Man: Do you feel threatened by it?
Woman: No, not really threatened, more like protected, although, should the situation arise, we’d also kick the bucket.
Woman: I’ve been telling you for 25 years that I won’t accept that.
Man: And I’ve always agreed with you.
Woman: That’s just it, the way you are so cowardly.
Man: And what are we going to do now?
Woman: Don’t ask me that.
Man: You, I’ll never ask you anything again. Nothing at all!
Man: The door..............the door.
Woman: Although they wanted to plan a settlement (community) and thought: a shopping centre, a kindergarten, a school, a library and a church, that does not go to make a town. But at the time they knew nothing about Feng Shui.Man: No urban planner would ever do anything like this again. What Scharoun must have envisioned (thought) with his city-landscape.
Woman: But Klaus, you must admit, there was nothing but rubble and ruin here before.
Woman: Why is there so little room for that?
Man: Yes, there is much too little room for that.
But what was visionary was the layout design. There had never been anything like it before. And then they showed the possibilities that it held.
Woman: One flat is planned (designed) for a four person family. The father is a designer, the mother a journalist, the 20 year old daughter a photographer and the 18 year old son a pupil at a commercial art school. Every member of the family also wants to be given the opportunity of doing their work in peace at home and also to be able to receive (invite) colleagues (and friends). This was taken into account in that the apartment was designed with a combined bedroom and study for each member of the family to fulfil their personal needs and requirements.
Another flat is designed for a three person family. The father is a businessman, the family often receives visitors at home. The son is still of schoolgoing age (has to go to school). The design of the flat took the couple’s representational functions into account. A sliding partition wall between the living room and parent’s bedroom allows for enlargement of the living area.
A third flat is designed for a businessman and his wife. The couple has no children and can use the living space in a free and open room design. The flat is thus well suited for a sociable life and for the pursuit (unfolding) of personal interests.
Young man: It is incredible.
Man: Social background/origins, abuse of power, cultural shaping. It is all nonsense, I say. It’s all in the genes, they determine our destiny/fate.
Man: Don’t tell me about the powerful (oppressive) state. That was mother
and father in one.
On the one hand they watched over you, on the other they kept you in a state of permanent childhood. There was no free will, (Hard-headedness)and over on the other side it was even worse.
Now things are getting lively. Everybody is becoming a doer, a mover, a shaker- upper, regardless of whether they sort potatoes or write software. And that type of entrepreneur, the real one, the creative one, can solve the world’s problems faster than they can occur(arise). They see every (don’t miss a) clod of dirt in the garden of the future.
Man 2: And there is so much variety.
Woman: Turn down that damn bush music! How often must I tell you that?
Man: The idea of being single is ideal for certain age groups. They seem unable to image a life beyond this active time of life.
Woman: Well, thank God that they can’t.
Man: Well, I’ve been married for 50 years.
Woman: Oh, go on, little Klaus.
Man: Well, nowadays people don’t seem to need others, do they?
Man: Well, I recently saw something about a quarter on television – a few parts of streets were shown where there were still lots of shops.....
Woman: Things are still in order there.
Woman: Where we lived before there was a real collective.
Man: And the shops in the small shopping centre here shut down, and what comes in their place....(?)
Man: Where I lived before people put much more out in the streets.
Woman: What do people put out in the streets?
Man: Furniture, of course.
Woman; we also put everything out in the streets.
Man: The street was the great trade centre.
Woman: And all the community surfaces that were planned here?
Woman: Community surfaces?
Man: Yes, over at Niemeyer all that had been planned.
Man: They weren’t accepted at all.
Woman: Everyone had their family and plenty of everything else. You didn’t need a community as well.
Man: Nobody meets over here, except if they are friends. Otherwise nobody meets
Woman: But it should work. In Brazil he built a similar building, and it works wonderfully.
Woman: Well, one thing I learned in America was networking, that is, community building. JFK, that is John F Kennedy once said: Don’t ask what the state can do for you, but ask what you can do for the state.
SONG: I like to be in America / Okay by me in America / Everything is free in America/ For a small fee in America.
Architect: That’s enough