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A shimmering, marbled silver effect, a piece that was impossible to miss: over the last few months, a ca. 10m high metal wall had cut right through the Hamburger Bahnhof Hall of Art in Berlin – a museum for contemporary art. This large, striking installation had been designed by the artists and architects Arno Brandlhuber and Gregor Zorzi for the “Church for Sale” exhibition. XERVON Gerüstbau, the company’s scaffold experts, were responsible for setting it up using ‘cassettes’ that are normally deployed for erecting standard scaffolding.
Hamburger Bahnhof is one of the six museum buildings belonging to Germany’s Nationalgalerie [National Gallery]. Specialising in post-1960 art, it has one of the world’s biggest and most important collections of contemporary art on public display. In November 2021, the museum launched its “Church for Sale” exhibition to mark its 25th anniversary. Lasting a full ten months, this special exhibition displayed some of the Nationalgalerie’s most important pieces as well as the Haubrok collection and the exhibit erected by XERVON Gerüstbau.
Consisting of four individual parts, this metal wall advanced towards the front of the museum and then crossed right through the whole of the inside of the building – capturing and reflecting one of the most important subjects of the exhibition: the competition for inner city space, something that is also impacting on the Hamburger Bahnhof. XERVON’s scaffolding specialists chose to use a modular scaffold system to erect the installation and then covered this with Layher Protect System ‘cassettes’. A concept that initially sounds like business as usual but one, in fact, that had a number of unusual challenges. The artists, for example, had requested that no wooden elements be included in the scaffold structure. The cassettes, which were made of galvanised sheet steel, had to be installed so that they were touching the ground and, wherever possible, the anchors needed to attach the scaffolding to the building should be completely hidden. What’s more, all of the exhibit’s parts had to be used material so that their carefully polished surfaces still displayed the marbled effect caused by wind and weather. The actual positioning of the installation was not without its challenges either as the direction and the height of the four parts of the wall had to be built at a slant along a predefined line – right down to the very last millimetre. The result was an extremely impressive piece of art, whose design and size made the exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof all the more fascinating.
The exhibition primarily focused on the competition for inner-city space – something that is also affecting the Hamburger Bahnhof.
Arno Brandlhuber and his architectural firm b+ on the goal and the message of this installation: “The architecture designed by b+ (Arno Brandlhuber, Florian Jaritz, Gregor Zorzi) captures the subject of the exhibition by taking a critical look both at the current development plan that has been drawn up for the land around the museum and at the as yet unclarified future of the Hamburger Bahnhof buildings that are used to display art. It converts the two-dimensional line arising from the course of the building line into a three-dimensional wall that cuts this historical building into two parts from the north to the south.”