Pool From the Plan Archive

, Photo: Jan Bitter

Photo: Jan Bitter

It’s like an American songbook: Every author takes a piece from it, interprets, varies, changes it and places another, new piece back into the ever growing archive. And yet every piece was invented at one point…

Using this metaphor, Annette Spiro describes the progressive occupation that pool has with the subject of housing construction. Though the basic patterns and their building blocks are always the same — particularly in cooperative housing projects — , every new situation also demands new approaches to solutions. With this expectation, the Zurich architects consistently work out every project so that new variations always result; even when it seems like cooperative housing does not offer much leeway to work in. By applying this strategy in their 15-years of work, pool has compiled a comprehensive trove of experience in housing typologies that can be read like a family tree (Annette Spiro). The floor plans are adapted from project to project for as long as it takes until an independent solution develops. The consistent execution of this approach also means, however, that there is no formal signature to the architecture: Every building turns the existing situation into the subject in its own way.

pool takes this procedural method as the subject of their first Berlin exhibition: a collage of execution drawings, floor plan typologies and diagrammatic summaries decode this type of typological plan evolution. The execution drawings in 1:50 of all of the constructed projects to date, thus form the central element dominating the exhibition space. They not only illustrate the spatial detail of the work, but also show its creative implementation. The plans are complemented by a comparative survey of various plans that pool has developed over the 15 years of its existence. This knowledge repository is made complete with information sheets that colleagues, or others who are interested, can use as an instrument to develop new typologies — in the sense of Open Source. With these ideas the exhibition thus makes a conscious contribution to the current debate about housing in Berlin.

pool first started out in 1994 as a discussion platform for architecture and urban planning. In 1996 it began to work as an architecture practice; in 1998 it was ultimately established between eight equal partners: Dieter Bachmann, Raphael Frei, Mathias Heinz, Philipp Hirtler, David Leuthold, Andreas Sonderegger, Mischa Spoerri and Matthias Stocker. The partners are also the cofounders of the Architektengruppe Krokodil, working on new solutions for “Switzerland’s urban future”. pool is currently chairing a design studio at the TU Berlin.