Community as a Model

Architecture is a part of the symbolic dimension of our society. The built figure has its own instrumental influence on the social activities in the space. The exhibition Gemeinschaft als Modell (Community as a model), curated by Jens Brinkmann, displays recent work of architecture firms that are part of the Institute of German Architects (BDA) in Berlin and that represent the topic community in different ways. Moreover, the exhibition underlines the value of the architectural model being an original of equal quality to the architectural drawing. Even in times of digital rendering, the three-dimensional physical architectural model, from the working model to the final presentation model, is still a central mean to represent spatial complexity. The exhibition took place in the BDA Gallery and was presented via livestream. The realisation was supervised by the artist Daniel Janik.

Gallery dialogue and curation of the exhibition, BDA Gallery, Berlin, 11 August 2020. (Image: Photo Daniel Janik)


The cultural programme Metrópolis of the Brazilian television channel TV Cultura in São Paulo reports the transformations, temporary usage and conversions of buildings in Berlin since the unification. Jens Brinkmann illustrates the history of the city from World War Two to its separation and reunion. On the base of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, the museum of contemporary art Hamburger Bahnhof, the Kunsthaus Tacheles, the Kulturbrauerei and the Brewery Am Pfefferberg, the Palace of the Republic, the Boros Bunker, the Uferhallen and the church of St. Agnes, he demonstrates the diversity of architectural projects that have led Berlin to be a cultural capital and that have given and still give the city its remarkable character.

Interview with Jens Brinkman, shooting of Metrópolis in the Uferhallen in Berlin-Wedding, 2016. (Image: Photo United Architektur)

Berlin-Brandenburg 2025 – Towards a New Metropolitan Culture

The story of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany is also a story of Berlin and Brandenburg reuniting. The historic unity between the two was also divided during the division of Germany and Berlin. Since 1989, architects and urban planners have worked on the process of merging Berlin and Brandenburg and have found many solutions to this challenge. While Berlin found its identity as the old and new capital, Brandenburg had to reestablish its own identity. In 2025, the metropolitan area of Berlin-Brandenburg will be one of the two regions with the highest population increase in Germany. This need for action comprises a major social and political potential for the formation of a future metropolitan culture.

Universidade de São Paulo, FAU, São Paulo, Brazil, 18 March 2010. [Graphic: Jens Brinkmann].

Thomas Florschuetz – Double Floor

The exhibition, Double Floor, portrays the multifaceted complexity of architectural space in its cultural and artistic form from the perspective of visual space. The large-format works by Thomas Florschuetz show everyday objects, architectural and urban fragments whose common features lie in the expression of a changed perception. The title, Double Floor, alludes on the one hand to the complexity of the photographs as compositions of colours, lines and surfaces and on the other hand to the representation of themes such as materiality and temporality. Thus, the viewer is invited to re-experience the overlapping of real and pictorial space in the field of tension of the gallery, which has been permanently changed by the one-year installation of FAKT – Office for Architecture.

Opening Lecture and curation of the exhibition, BDA Gallery, Berlin, 4 June 2019. [Image: Photo Olga Karatzioti-B.].

Hybrid Authenticity: Dresden

Jens Brinkmann discusses the question of historical authenticity within the old city centre of Dresden and compares it with the identity of Dresden’s present-day centre.  The damage due to the Second World War lead to a near complete destruction of the historic city structure. Since the division and reunification of Germany, different concepts have emerged with regards to the question of reconstruction and rebuilding. The presentation discusses the approach to urban and historic preservation by the German Democratic Republic and compares it with the reconstruction approach of the Federal Republic of Germany after 1990.

Universidade de São Paulo, FAU, São Paulo, Brazil, 18 March 2010. [Image: Dresden Neumarkt, Photo Jens Brinkmann].

The close-by and the elsewhere: Seasonal Living

Seasonal living is an urban phenomenon in the countryside. The city dweller wants to leave the overregulated civilisation from time to time. A yearning for the primal, the simple, lures him into nature. With the periodical adjustment of the centre of life, a form of living has developed here that should be called »seasonal«. Seasonal living puts the period of utilisation and its influence on architecture in the centre of consideration. Dualism, connection to nature, flexibility and reduction are major features of seasonal architecture.

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 28 April 2008. [Image: Casa na Barra do Sahy, Nitsche Arquitetos, Brazil, Photo Nitsche Arquitetos].

Spatial Concepts in Architecture: Entrance, Threshold, Interspace

The story of architecture is also the story of the threshold between interior and exterior spaces. The presentation draws a line from the Central European door and door symbolism to traditional Japanese spatial concepts as well as examples of modern architecture and presents the unique interaction between entrance, threshold and interspace.

Universität Potsdam, Postdam, Germany, 9 May 2015. [Image: Photo Jens Brinkmann].

Scales of Nature in Architecture

Jens Brinkmann speaks about the rich variety of forms, expressiveness and the diverse interaction between nature and contemporary architecture. Scales of nature in architecture such as wilderness, landscapes, garden and plants oppose terms such as »artificial« nature, decontextualisation, intensification, hybridization and redesigning of landscapes. This accompanies ecological considerations, climate-friendly building typologies, passive and active solar output as well as green roofs, geothermal energy and the preparation of rain/gray water

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 21 April 2011. [Image: Small Garden, Japan, Photo Jens Brinkmann]. 

Teaching Design Studio

Jens Brinkmann taught Design studio at the Chair of Housing and Institutional Buildings of Professor Bernd Huckriede at the Brandenburgische Technische Universität in Cottbus. He lectured as a guest at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, the Universidade de São Paulo (FAU-USP), the ENS d’Architecture de Paris La Villette and the Escola Superior das Artes Plasticas de Porto (ESAP). Brinkmann also initiated several research programs and conferences with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 2005-2012. [Image: Design Studio at BTU Cottbus, Final Project Presentation Martin Maleschka].

Metropolis and Landscapes. Luanda

Jens Brinkmann talks about the conservation of natural compensation zones in fast growing metropolitan regions as a political instrument for improving regional quality of life, based on the example case of Luanda and Quissama National Park. The research project “Metropolis and Landscape, Luanda” brings into focus the situation in fast growing urban regions, which border on protected natural landscapes. The aim of this project is the strategic planning of information, education and land use concept for the Kwanza River Valley in the Quissama National Park as a model region for sustainable development.

Universidade Augostinho Neto, Luanda, Angola, 8. November 2010. [Image: Luanda Bay, Angola, Photo Jens Brinkmann].


The exhibition, Großraum (Big Space), portrays the multifaceted complexity of architectural space in its cultural and artistic form. It presents two diametrically opposed artistic approaches from artists Sonya Schönberger and Daniel Janik in direct juxtaposition. They question the influence of architecture on social space, countered by the investigation of real space through its densification as well as using the example of the residential high-rise building at Zingster Straße 25 in Berlin Neu-Hohenschönhausen. At the opening of the exhibition, actors Anne Ratte-Polle and Florian Anderer read an excerpt from the book »Zingster Straße 25«, by Sonya Schönberger.

Opening Lecture and curation of the exhibition, BDA Gallery, Berlin, 7 June 2018. [Image: Photos Sonya Schönberger, Jens Brinkmann].

São Paulo: Urban Scales

Jens Brinkmann looks at São Paulo from the perspective of different scales: landscape, cityscape and architecture. The continuing expansion and complexity of the urban space complicates analysis and makes it difficult to articulate a broader picture. The change of scale and shift of urban perception are phenomena which are of particular relevance in São Paulo’s evolution. Brinkmann presents the history, past and present of the successive urban layers and the exemplary architecture that has emerged from each one.

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA, 13 October 2010. [Image: São Paulo Pacaembu, Photo Theo Siqueira]. 

Projeto Tiête und Plano Diretor Estratégico 2013

The new »Plano Diretor Estratégico 2013« was established by Fernando de Mello Franco ( Councilor for Building and Construction between 2012 and 2016), as an important foundation for the city development of São Paulo. Jens Brinkman reports on the first steps of the implementation and the execution of the urban development competition »Projeto Tiête«, which should restructure metropolitan areas as well as provide new residential areas, public infrastructure and green spaces in São Paulo.

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 18 July 2013. [Image: Competition documents, São Paulo, Jens Brinkmann]. 

On Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Architecture, City and Nature

Jens Brinkmann worked in the office of Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos in São Paulo. In his lecture, he presents the work of this great Brazilian architect and the impact it has on today’s generation of young architects in Brazil. Mendes da Rocha’s way of working together with several young architectural firms led to a unique interexchange of concepts and ideas among the generations.

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 22 October 2008. [Image: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Jens Brinkmann, Christopher Burns].

Architecture as a Space of Social Interaction: The Centro Cultural São Paulo

In spite of the political situation, the Centro Cultural São Paulo was opened in 1982 during the Brazilian military dictatorship, as Brazil’s first cultural centre. From the beginning, the project of the then young architects Eurico Prado Lopes and Luiz Benedito de Castro Telles, was thought of as a multidisciplinary space. A hybrid spatial plan, in the form of an extensive cultural programme and the mixture of basic civic services, has resulted in a highly charged venue.

33rd Congress of the International Commitee of the History of Arts, The Challenge of the Object / Die Herausforderung des Objekts (CIHA 2012), Nürnberg, Germany, 20 July 2012. [Image: Centro Cultural São Paulo, Photo Jens Brinkmann]. 

Towards a New Architecture in Southern Africa

The contemporary architecture in Southern Africa (Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa) is informed by the wish to express a new national identity on the one hand and to represent international advancement and cutting edge technology on the other hand. Historical architecture in the cityscape and unique buildings of colonial modernity are threatened in many places or have already vanished. The presentation discusses this difficult development and presents examples of a new and hopeful generation of architects.

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 7 November 2012. [Image: Luanda, Angola, Photo Jens Brinkmann].

Housing typologies for the community

Jens Brinkmann speaks about the qualities of communal living. The Seminar »Berlin: Urban Typologies II« explores the clearly noticeable development in Berlin towards new collective urban typologies. Frei Otto’s flexible housing (»Wohnregal«), consisting of stacked single-family homes within a concrete framework which emerged as experimental housing in the International Building Exhibition IBA 1987 in the former diplomatic quarter in Tiergarten, is one of the earliest phenomenal examples thereof.

Brandenburgische Technische Universität, Cottbus, Germany, 24 April 2012. [Image: Flexible Housing Berlin, Architect Frei Otto, Photo Jens Brinkmann].

New Housing in Central Berlin

Against the background of demographic shifts, such as the aging of society and changes in lifestyles and workstyles as well as through political and city planning efforts, downtown Berlin has become an attractive place for everyday life and residence. In this lecture, Jens Brinkmann talks about the significant history of housing in Central Berlin and presents a series of innovative residential buildings, all of whose construction has been motivated by a wish to combine individualized living spaces with a sense of community and nearness to neighbors.

DAAD-Conference „Architecture and Identity. Berlin in São Paulo“, Goethe Institut São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 6 November 2009. [Image: Design Concept for an Apartment Building in Berlin, United Architektur].

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