Category Archives: landscape
This mountain, piled up after World War II from the rubble of the city, stands as a memorial to the victims and a warning to the living.
— plaque at Birkenkopf
Allied bombing raids on Stuttgart during World War II destroyed at least 45% of the city, including nearly all the city center.*
In the mid-1950s, 1.5 million cubic meters of the resulting rubble were moved to a hill in the southwest of the city — raising it by about 40 meters and making it the highest point in central Stuttgart.
This is the Birkenkopf or Rubble Hill, which we visited two weekends ago. It is sometimes also called Monte Scherbelino or Mount Shards.
A wide spiraling asphalt path leads walkers, runners, and cyclists up through the woods that have grown over the debris. At the summit, a semi-circular berm of broken concrete and ornamental stonework forms a terrace or shallow amphitheater facing a spectacular view of the city.
There are many post-WWII rubble hills (aka Schuttberge or Trümmerberge) in Germany. London has some as well, and there’s an interesting essay about this kind of ‘made ground’ (“a sort of spatial redistribution of violence”) here.
I have not been able to find the name of the company or person who directed the design of the Stuttgart hilltop area.
You can watch a beautiful short video of the Birkenkopf from the air here. If you visit Stuttgart, you can reach the site via the no. 92 bus from the Rotebühlplatz U-bahn stop.
To scroll through larger versions of the slides above, click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.
I told you so
Babbles the brook
*Over 4,500 people on the ground and 2,400 Allied aircrew (300 planes) are estimated to have died during the Stuttgart attacks, according to Wikipedia. The city had important industrial resources and several military bases and was a railway hub for the southwest.
A ramble* on Friday, about 7:00 p.m. . .
This year marks the 25th anniversary of German reunification.
As many as 1,000 little green Einheitsmännchen or Unity Men will tour Germany. At the moment — until August 30 — they are on the Schlossplatz in the city center of Stuttgart.
For my conceptual idea to release its communicative potential, I work in public spaces — a sphere that belongs to everyone and to nobody at the same time. . . . For this space — outside the confines of museums — I consciously choose motifs that are already firmly rooted in collective memory. By gradually shifting their context or by an act of re-creation, I turn them into a new experience.
In line with my strategy as an artist, it seemed obvious to me for the anniversary of the German reunification to adopt, and rework, the well-known East German Ampelmännchen, or traffic light man, first developed by Karl Peglau in 1961. I turned the two-dimensional pictogram of a little green man into a three-dimensional serial monochrome figure, carved in the round and standing 38 centimeters tall. He is still wearing his hat, but has been given a face, too. In a manner of speaking, this is a new generation Ampelmännchen, the Einheitsmännchen (“Unity Man”): cosmopolitan, friendly, and with a positive outlook for the future, smiling, holding out his hand in a attempt to meet you halfway, full of energy, dynamic, courageous, and advancing with determination. He is a symbol of our mobile society. . . . When our society manages to stay flexible, in motion, in a constant state of flux, there is always room for advancement and improvement. Individuals as well as society as an entity will thus keep their chance to escape the risk of paralysis or deadlock.
In this respect, the “Unity Man” may be regarded as an emblem of free democratic principles, of flexibility, of hope and trust in the future. . . .
— Ottmar Hörl, from the exhibit’s brochure
*Streifzug means ‘foray,’ ‘ brief survey,’ or ‘ramble.’