The exhibition by Wiewiorra Hopp Schwark deals with their new extension for the tax office (Finanzamt) in Oranienburg, Germany, which is nearing completion. Although the construction task is a rather mundane one, the architects were faced with a special challenge. The tax office is located in the former administrative building of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, meaning that the new building is directly docked onto a historically “contaminated” substance. Given this context, the architects developed a design concept that connects the site as a source of inspiration to the idea of an illusion as a concrete creative medium.
In terms of planning, the new building makes no reference to the surrounding buildings. Architecturally, it is not visibly connected with the old building. And neither the entrance nor its structural levels are a focal point: the new building looks like an abstract object.
Going beyond mere abstraction, its unique presence is achieved by the special design of the façade. Wrapping around the two-level building are three façade bands with staggered openings, which seem to disrupt the parallelism of the horizontal lines. This optical illusion is also known as the “Café Wall-Illusion” and gives the new building the self-referential allure of an art object. The folded floor plan also creates reflections and transparency in the façade, which sharpen the perception of the building, both visually and metaphorically.
To illustrate these aspects, Carsten Wiewiorra, Anna Hopp, and Guido Schwark have designed a room-filling installation. In addition to addressing the building’s architectural parameters, its sculptural positioning in the gallery results in a spatial dialogue that generates an independent characteristic.
WHSA was founded by Carsten Wiewiorra in 1999. Anna Hopp has been a partner since 2004; Guido Schwark has been a partner since 2012. Their projects include the Plattenpalast (2009), Haus Blumenthal (2012), Schwules Museum Berlin (2013), and the Oranienburg Finanzamt (2018). Carsten Wiewiorra has been a professor for Interieur Design at the Ostwestfalen-Lippe University of Applied Sciences since 2010.