[en] Architektur Galerie Berlin

Cover photo from “The Tube”

The Tube An Architecture Utopia

Welcome: Ulrich Müller

Introduction: Michael Fehr

In the early 1980s, Günther L. Eckert developed an architectural utopia: a colossal above-ground tube spanning the globe as a living space for the entire human race. With a technically detailed design, he wanted to prove that the whole of humanity could live in prosperity on Earth without further exploiting and destroying it. Unlike other utopian concepts, however, Eckert did not plan it with a place or a time in mind. Instead, the tube known as the “continuum” was intended to bring together all the technologies that had been developed to date into a closed loop. However, Eckert was not primarily aiming at an architectural and technical construct but hoped that people would be able to give up their “I” in favour of a “we”, in order to agree on a project supported by everyone.

It has been almost half a century since Eckert developed his idea. In view of climate change, finite resources, and political upheaval, it is shocking to realise that his ideas have lost none of their relevance and are timelier than ever. Against this background, the “Tube” illustrates all the more the dimensions of the changes that we must develop towards our relationship with nature as the source and basis of our lives.

At the same time, questions of current developments in architecture and urban planning emerge: What role do utopian concepts play in the present? In view of the diverse problems and solutions, shouldn’t so-called micro-utopias take the place of a single great utopia (as Elon Musk is pursuing with Space X, for example)? How should large-scale projects such as “Neom – The Line” – a 170 km long, 500 m high and 200 m wide building for nine million people in the Saudi Arabian desert – be regarded? In all these questions, one must bear in mind that the world’s population has doubled since 1980. While Eckert was still able to conceptualise the “Tube” as a practical, feasible utopia, today it appears to be a dystopia, a construction into which we will have to retreat if we do not fundamentally change our way of life as soon as possible.

The exhibition shows 60 pages of the 100-sheet manuscript with handwritten texts, sketches, drawings, and calculations. The collection is accompanied by an overview of the most important urban utopias from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Günther Ludwig Eckert studied architecture in Munich from 1947 to 1951. From 1954 to 1980, as a private architect, he built numerous single-family homes, residential and office complexes as well as churches. He became known for the residential tower block and the now heritage-listed cafeteria at the Munich Olympic Village (1967-1972). The construction of the high-rise was the first time that Eckert’s “building kit method” was applied, which allows for individual interior fittings while having a highly rationalised construction method with prefabricated elements. Eckert also invented a wet room made of synthetic material (1967), in which all the functions of a bathroom are integrated. In addition to his work as an architect, Eckert was also an illustrator and a painter and made films together with the writer and director Werner Prym. From 1978 onwards, he worked on the idea of the world-spanning continuum. Günther L. Eckert died in Munich in 2001.

Curator: Michael Fehr
In cooperation with Werkbundarchiv – Museum der Dinge