Architecture in the countryside, an exhibition by DAM

Moritz Bernoully,



Exhibition, DAM Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Event,

An off-site exhibition organised by the Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) at the Hessenpark open-air museum in Neu-Anspach, to talk about an often forgotten theme, namely that of architecture in the countryside. Entitled "Schön hier", meaning "it's beautiful here", the exhibition explores how architecture can make a big contribution towards a better life in rural areas.

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Architecture in the countryside, an exhibition by DAM
: how many times have those who live in the countryside heard this exclamation from city-dwelling friends? Putting the common pastoral imagery aside, also strengthened by the stereotypical picturesque "villages" myth, life in rural areas in Germany, as in other European countries, is not always so enchanting. Just think of the lack of services, from shops to schools, from public transport to fast internet connection. Moreover, contrary to what we are tempted to believe, much of the architectural heritage characterising these places is also far from remarkable.
The exhibition entitled "Schön hier. Architektur auf dem Land" (It's beautiful here. Architecture in the countryside), organised by DAM at the Hessenpark open-air museum in Neu-Anspach, deals precisely with these issues. A solution not only in line with the exhibition itself, which has fittingly been set up inside a reconstructed granary owned by the Municipality of Sand, dating back to 1742, but also because the DAM headquarters in Frankfurt are currently closed for restoration and adaptation works. 
"The whole world is talking about the process of urbanisation and that in the future half of humanity will live in cities. I'm interested in the "other half". This phrase by Finnish architect Sami Rintala perfectly describes DAM's project. Just a quick glance at the data is enough to understand what we are talking about: according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU), 90% of the EU territory is rural or predominantly rural. About half of Europe's population lives in these areas, which are primarily "places to live and work". In other words, they are not designed only for the amusement of city dwellers. Here, again, the statistical data is clear, as Germany is primarily polycentric and rural. In fact, barely 200 of Germany's 10,800 municipalities have more than 50,000 inhabitants. 
These places obviously "need a contemporary technical, social and structural infrastructure", as we can read in the exhibition description. The DAM, as a museum of architecture, obviously begins its research from the architecture of particular buildings: "Architecture can be an expression of valuing something, it can, in the best cases, generate a sense of confidence. For this reason, it is worthwhile to commit to many small construction interventions, but also to entire inhabited centres, to functioning public spaces and accepted by the local population."
Thus, within the Hessenpark open-air museum complex in Neu-Anspach, a town situated just 40 km north of Frankfurt, we can explore 70 examples of architecture in Europe, with a focus on Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland and great attention to regional identities. DAM's selection is heterogeneous and includes apartment buildings, laboratories, office buildings, museums, libraries, care and support facilities, conversions of barns, courtyards, hotels, wineries, concert halls, chapels, sports facilities and public buildings such as community centres, schools and town halls. 
We also find a reference to sustainable tourism and the internal development of these rural centres where the combination of tradition and modernity can often lead to great results. All supported by the testimonies of the protagonists of these endeavours, from municipal councillors to local architects, from winemakers to citizens, those who have carried out initiatives, construction projects and participation processes in a self-determined manner.
Of course, the increasingly important theme of investigating the conversion and renovation of existing buildings has not been left out, an aspect also dealt with by another DAM exhibition currently underway entitled "ADAPTIVE ARCHITECTURE – BUILDING UPON THE EXISTING".
"Schön hier. Architektur auf dem Land" was originally set to run only until November, but thanks to the great success with the public it has been extended until April 2, 2023. In addition, following its stay in Neu-Anspach, the exhibition will move to numerous other locations.

Christiane Bürklein

„Schön hier. Architektur auf dem Land“ Exhibition
March 27, 2022 – April 2, 2022
Deutsche Architekturmuseum (DAM) in cooperation with the Hessenpark open-air museum Laubweg 5, 61267 Neu-Anspach/Taunus
Exhibition project: Annette Becker, Stefanie Lampe, Lessano Negussie
Installation: Feigenbaumpunkt, Arne Ciliox, Jochen Schiffner / unique assemblage, Alex Probst, Ralf Schlachter
For more information: https://dam-online.de/veranstaltung/schoen-hier/
Photos: courtesy of DAM, © Moritz Benoully