A Terrace on the Isar – The »Future Four« Talk About Gasteig Sendling

A Terrace on the Isar – The »Future Four« Talk About Gasteig Sendling The architects from the Gasteig’s »Zukunft« (»Future«) department: Tobias Jahn, Julia Grosse-Frie, Anna Mochnac and Georg Glas – seen here with the head of »Zukunft« Benedikt Schwering (from left to right) Gasteig München GmbH

In charge of the future: architects Julia Große Frie, Anna Mochnac, Georg Glas and Tobias Jahn. As the Interim team of the »Zukunft« (»Future«) department of Gasteig München GmbH, they are responsible for the planning and construction of the Gasteig interim quarter at Sendling. In this interview, they tell us about the challenges their role has in store.

You spend a large part of your working time in meetings, on the construction site or in the Gasteig, with the resident institutes, partner organizations, architects, building contractors, the city’s politicians and many more. What’s the biggest challenge for you at Gasteig Sendling?
Tobias Jahn: One particular challenge, which also makes the project so exciting for me, is to identify the many wishes, issues and needs of the various institutes and users, to communicate them clearly and effectively and, above all, to square them with what can be realized with the new premises.
Anna Mochnac: If, for example, as we were told only this morning, the general contractor for the Interim Philharmonic Hall cannot implement something that the architects had planned because of the existing structures, we have to renegotiate with everyone who is affected by this change. Due to the sheer number of stakeholders, this means a lot more communication than in other construction projects that we’ve been involved with in the past. But even questions like »Will my sink be on the left or right side of the room?« or »What colour will the door handle be?« can present a challenge if they cannot be planned yet, and this, too, needs to be communicated.

Plenty of steel for the construction of the Philharmonic Hall

So you are also mediators …
Julia Große Frie: Yes, you could say that. What’s new for me here, above all, is the politics. Time and again, we must bring politicians on board since the city carries the costs. Ultimately, the city council decides on the budget and on what can and cannot be done. This is a new experience for me, which makes it all the more challenging. In other construction projects, the clients are often individual proprietors, managers or company owners, who are the sole decision-makers while also financing the project. With the Gasteig, we have many independent institutes that are all on the same level in the organizational hierarchy and which understandably each have many wishes and ideas but which do not have to bear the costs.
Tobias Jahn: Yes, with so many user groups, there’s a lot of input that needs to be well communicated to all the other groups. That’s a level of complexity that I’ve never experienced before either. How do you deal with that? How do you represent the stakeholders effectively? How do you »sell« a project of this kind to the city? – these are all important questions for us.

What’s your impression of this cooperative venture?
Georg Glas: All stakeholders are taking a keen interest and are cooperating, also with site owners Stadtwerke München (municipal utility company) and the existing tenants on site. The idea has been floated, for example, of utilizing the Stadtwerke training workshops located on site. If they can do the occasional welding job for us, it will save us having to bring our own welding equipment along. These are important practical issues.

Construction progress on the Philharmonic Hall (in the background: the listed transformer hall)

What surprises have sprung up along the way?
Julia Große Frie: Especially the transformer hall, which is over a hundred years old and is listed, always yields challenging discoveries as the construction work progresses. For example, we found that the floor slab in the original drawing was missing, or parts of the roof turned out to be rotted. The result is always the same – change of plan. But it also means that plans must be kept simple. For example, trucks delivering stage sets for the Philharmonic Hall will park immediately in front of the hall so that the organizers can unload directly onto the stage. This must work without any complex arrangements, without stage lifts and special delivery access and with only a roofed unloading area, because there is no room for more.

Talking of the Philharmonic Hall, what can we expect to see?
Anna Mochnac: Dark-stained wood, separate, dimmable stage spots – the atmosphere of the Interim Philharmonic Hall is to become more focussed and mystical. This is a challenge for the lighting designers, who must create a mystical atmosphere in the auditorium while ensuring that the musicians on stage have enough light to read their sheet music. These interior details are what we are looking at right now. We are building a model of a complete section of the hall on site, more or less in full size, which our architects and technicians, the acoustic engineer, the Munich Philharmonic and many other stakeholders will then inspect. They’ll be asking questions like: Will the light be sufficient? Will the ventilation in the hall work? Are foam and fabric the ideal materials for the audience seating in terms of the acoustics? Is the seat fabric correctly woven? And perhaps the mayor will even want to try the seating himself …

… and at some point it will be ready: the Gasteig Sendling finished at last! What are you looking forward to most of all?
Julia Große Frie: I’m most looking forward to the transformer hall and the outside space – with the [river] Isar next door and the site’s existing tenants, from the tyre dealer to the yoga studio and the car paint shop. It will undoubtedly have a pleasant atmosphere – a place to spontaneously drop by for a coffee or a good book; a beautiful big terrace overlooking the Isar! But this site could also be well suited for events like open-air cinema or new festival formats with mobile food stalls and the like. It’s going to be exciting!
Tobias Jahn: I am also looking forward to the surprise effect that the space being created here could have. A partly derelict area is being turned into a creative space with an inviting vibe, where people like to spend time, be it to drink a beer on the banks of the Isar or to attend a concert. The creative heads that have been inhabiting the site for a long time and that will be able to get involved, and the Gasteig with its cultural diversity as a new resident – there are not many places like this in Munich.

You can watch the construction progress of the Gasteig interim quarter in our time-lapse video of the building site. For an artistic perspective of the building site, take a look at our »Gasteig Sendling – Photo Art in Episodes« series. Click here for the latest episode!

Interview and text: Judith Ludwig
Photos: Gasteig München GmbH

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