The Commandants House Stratigraphy workshop Norway 24-30 June 2013 concept by Tobias Doll, Cecylia Skwirzynska, Elisabeth Eulitz
The Commandants House Stratigraphy REcall
REcall is a research project founded by EC Culture 2007-13 Programme (n. 2012 - 0927 / 001 - 001 CU7 COOP7) focused on the possible roles Museography can play when dealing with Difficult Heritage such as the ones coming from conflicts and wars. REcall wishes to envision new ways to the handling of Painful Places & Stories going behind any traditional approach: there is the need to shift from the ‘simply’ commemoration attitude to a more active involvement and participation of people in/with Places & Stories, through design strategies of ‘reappropriation’ (www.recall-project.polimi.it).
The views expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and the European Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
REcall Consortium POLIMI-Politecnico di Milano - Coordinator - (Italy) AAU-Aalborg University (Denmark) NTUN-Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Norway) UNEW-Newcastle University (United Kingdom) Fasltad Museum, Falstad (Norway) Museo della Resistenza, Turin (Italy) Associated Partners Ergan Foundation Romsdal museet Routes Agency Snark © The Authors: Creative Commons: license CC BY SA 3.0
Falstad workshop book
concept by Tobias Doll, Cecylia Skwirzynska, Elisabeth Eulitz
Table of contents
The Commandants House
29 Concept 41 Background 53 Final
1. The commandants house, seen from northwest, 2013
2. The commandants house, seen from southwest, 2013
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What were the actual conditions for a proposal for the commandant’s house? First of all, the commandant’s house is a quite easy building in regard of conservation. The building isn’t run-down at all, the last extensive refurbishment was in 1998 which means a building that you could move in right now. For us that meant: All projects we would develop for the commandant’s house would only have conceptional needs and we wouldn’t have to think of possible (Instandhaltungsmaßnahmen) We started to work on the project like starting an archaeological project. In reality that meant research on the building. First of all, a building survey with a detailed drawing was done, followed by a building analysis. In addition, available secondary sources like material from archives and written sources were studied. The biggest difficulty was that most of the original conception and furbishment is lost. The continuous use of the building is both curse and blessing. The main result is a Sequence of use with associated artefacts. The building can be understood as a physical and memorial collection of details, which are to be collected and sorted by us. These details are, in our opinion, the actual content of the building, the heritage. The less interesting the building is in terms of building archaeology, the more interesting is it in terms of its own history. The building doesn’t possess so much a physical heritage of its history, but rather immaterial heritage, that is photos, anecdote, stories told by former inhabitants and their family. After a collection of these different snippets of stories and histories we were able to sort them in different layers of time, all becoming manifest in architectural relations and material artefacts.
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3. The commandants house, seen from a distance, 2013
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4. Bridge and canyon, separating camp area and commandants house, 2013
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5. Result of the survey. Colours indicating different building phases (red: 1953, blue: post-1993, yellow: post2001), 2013
These layers are: 1. 1943: Construction period: Norwegian prisoners from the department of architecture and engineering at the Norwegian Technical Institute in Trondheim are building the house for the German commandant of the Falstad prison camp. Who was involved in the planning process? What conclusions about the Norwegian Resistance can be drawn from this historical episode? Artefacts: Building materials, the whole construction. 2. 1943 â€“ 1945: Home of the German commandant of Falstad prison camp: Different commandants lived in the commandants house during their respective times as head of Falstad prison camp. All of them, while formally being in the same position, had different policies regarding management and command
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of the prison. The house was the nerve centre of all things happening at Falstad. Whatever happened in the camp, killings of prisoners, attempts in cleaning up, everything was planned behind these walls. From photographs we know quite a lot about the social live of the German officers, the parties they had, how they celebrated Christmas. They show the drastic gap between disastrous live in the camp and the homely live in the commandants house. Artefacts: Fire places, parts of the ceiling and the floor, graffities in the basement. 3. 1945 - 1948: Home of the director of the Innherad forced labour camp for German prisoners of war.
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6. Sequence of interior views of the small lounge from a) 1943-1945, b) 1945-1948, c) 1998.
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7. Family visiting one of the schools directors, 19600s.
4. 1948 – early 1980s: Home of the director of the Ekne state school: Different directors of the institution. 5. 1980s: Building is rented out. 6. early 1990s – 1998: Ekne upper secondary school moves into building. 7. 1998 – 2011: The commandants house is sold and now a private home. 8. 2011 – today: The house is bought back by the Norwegian state and becomes a part of the Falstad centre. A small exhibition about the history of the commandants house is installed. What characterisation of the commandants house can be drawn from these different layers of time? The building is „historized“ quite late, it is, longer than the rest of the camp, a space that stand outside of commemoration. What is eminent is the diversity of the Commandants Houses different historical layers. It functioned as a home for different types of people from the most diverse backgrounds, from Lagerkommandanten of the German occupation forces to Norwegian pupils. This is a diversity that is also showing right in the location of the building It is part of the camp, but located not in the middle of it, but only reachable by an intricate path and separated from the main area by a small canyon. From the house you can see the main building of Falstad, in fact survey it, but not likewise. It is not itself a difficult space where difficult things happened, it is rather a space where difficult historical episodes were planned and thought of. Because of that, the space is more complex and commemoration is more complex: Things worth
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8. Bench in the garden of the house, 1990s.
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9. Research Assistant Ă‚rne Langas posing with a projection of a photograph showing a Nazi-commandant, 2013.
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10. Projection of one of the photographs shwoing Nazi staff celebrating, 2013.
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of commemoration have to be carved out and placed in context. With the massive refurbishments of the building in 1993/1998, most of the â€žhistoricalâ€œ artefacts of the original structure were removed. In general, what we have now is a building from the early 1990s. This fact should not be ignored. Because of that, that commandants house can be compared not only to a reservoir of memory, but rather to a sponge. The interesting details are there, but they have to be squeezed out to really make an impression.
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11. Graffitti in the basement of the commandants house, 2013.
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12. First sketches, 2013.
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Our design can be divided into two parts, one structural and one creative. Structural: The plurality of small rooms is dismissed, the available space is concentrated and divided new into two flats and one multifunctional space. The flats are autonomous with own infrastructure made up of bathroom and kitchen. They have a bedroom for one or two persons and a combined living/workspace. In our concept, most of the south-east part of the building is transformed into one big open space. The walls of today’s living rooms, the kitchen and further rooms are removed. In general, our aim was not to deliver one final solution of how and what walls have to be removed. From our research we learned that a removal is possible, technically. Our aim was to make the building useful, something it isn’t today. Creative: In general, the design of the space is to be moderate. That is, possible colours should be greyish or beige. Elements of design should be removed, the space should be disposed of all needlessness. Only in several broad stripes original material elements of the building are shown. These stripes function like archaeological layers or strata. Different layers of time are getting in a relation to one another.
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13. Sketch made in Falstad, 2013.
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14. Division of the house for the flats (yellow and blue) and the grand lounge (gray).
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15. Exemplary layout for the stratigraphical stripes.
16. Connecting the commandants house with the other parts of the camp.
17. Mental background of the layout.
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For that, extensive archaeological research is needed. Possible artefacts, that could be hidden in the structure, like remains of old wallpaper or old colourings of the walls, tracks of the construction could be integrated into these archaeological windows. The stripes are aligned to the other important parts of the camp, like the main area or the forest.
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18. Visualisation of stratigraphy.
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20. Exemplary archeological stratigraphy.
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When we started our work on the project we had two basic questions. The first was the background question of the whole Recall workshop: Is there a way to deal with difficult heritage beside making a memorial out of it? A lot of follow up questions to that popped up: Dealing with difficult heritage and heritage in general is remembering and commemorating. It is about what is remembered and what has to be remembered. The question is, who does remember? Remembering in psychological and sociological terms always is a process and always results in something. This fact is what is usually used in making a memorial function, the production of a social consensus regarding events in the past. In a place like Falstad, a short 10 Min walk from the Fjord and in the Trondelag region, a popular place for tourists in the summer, does a reaction to the past develop without a distinctive routing? In our concept we tried to have a collection of historical details which is as undefined as possible. The viewer should not be guided, but should discover. We don’t want a valuation of details with which always comes a valuation of historic periods. For an archaeologist a sword is a sword and pottery is pottery. A sword is not an enabler of suffering or giver of peace but a sword. We don’t want to establish the one possible reading of history, which always also means a blurring of other histories. That is the reason for our de-constructivist approach. Tear down the walls, create new ones. Shut out the blur of 1990s artefacts, only keep a profile of all layers of time. And that is the case with the two most important single structures in the space, the fireplaces and the kitchen, prime examples of their respective layers of time, the 1940s and the 1990s.
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21. The kitchen in the commandants house, 2013.
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22. One of the two fireplaces, 2013.
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And lastly, for us coming from a conservational background, asking for a use for the building was the next most important thing, because a working concept for a building is the main condition for its survival. The second question was a lot easier to answer than the first. We learned quite fast that the Falstad Centre was in need for additional space to use for for example public readings or film screenings or the like. In addition, the centre is quite well equipped with lodging in hostel style, but misses bigger lodging, suitable to accommodate people for longer terms. The question of suitable accommodation for an artist in residence for example was in question at the time when we had the chance to visit Falstad. In this regard, the multifunctional space in our design could also be used as a workspace for artists.
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23. Layout, 2013.
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24. Model of the modification, 2013.
25. Model of the modification, 2013.
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26. Visualisation, 2013.
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The remembrance of the past is a very own part of the functioning of human society. All the time, the past is remembered and shaped. Therefore new ways of dealing with heritage that are somewhat realistic can’t be completely new, but only contemporary. To find contemporary ways of dealing with heritage, you have to look on how the past was remembered in a certain culture. Norway is a quite interesting example in this regard. Until late in the 1990s the official remembrance of the Second World War was shaped by the organisations of the Norwegian veterans. Their views, their topics were the only discussed and remembered. This had consequences for the heritage of this time, like the Falstad camp, which „lost“ its history of before and after the time of the German occupation. But in recent years it seems that this is changing and Falstad played a major role in this process. The centre was the battlefield of one of the last big battles between the organisations of veterans and a new generation of historians who want to remember the different histories of World War Two and, for example, also the dark Norwegian side of it. The keyword in contemporary Norwegian dealing with difficult heritage is plurality. As many different histories as possible should be remembered, as many different views as possible. And to create a way of remembering that works, you have to indulge in this contemporaneity. Our design tries to live up to that: The stripes, our archaeological windows don’t want to only highlight certain layers of time but want to show them all at the same time, make them comparable and let the viewer make up the complex relations between them.
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teceel Tobias Doll Even as an archeologist working on the past, I always tried to use the methodology of the subject not only in archeological digs, but in a broader sense. Like the layers of the earth, every landscape shaped by mankind can be interpreted in an archeological sense. A city for example, can be understood as a succession of building periods. Everything built has its context and to understand this context is a very important step towards the understanding of culture. Living in Berlin, one is surrounded by a city which in bears the signs of a difficult heritage. Not only are there individual remains of war and terror, but the city itself is stamped with the difficult past it has. Working with these remains sharpened my sense for difficult heritage. Most of the time it isnâ€˜t all black and white, but it consists of a multitude of different histories. And to remember for a society should include remembering all the histories. I think dealing with difficult heritage needs a massive theoretical and conceptual basis. Itâ€™s not so much about the actual intervention but about their background. The number one question always is: How does a society want to deal with the past? How are difficult periods in time incorporated into the history of a society? Writing my master thesis about former socialist embassies in Berlin I had the chance to work with a heritage that made a radical change from a very positive place to a very difficult place. I want to play a part in this workshop and help to try to answer these questions.
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Cecylia Skwirzynska Having studied and worked in three different European countries, Poland, Spain and Germany, I had the advantage to see these different countries with their different conceptual approaches to heritage, remembering and the past. This was a huge influence on my thinking.I can’t just see heritage as a national thing with all of Europes history being dependent on one another like that. For me, architecture has to be strongly based on context. That’s where I see the part archeology has to play in the handling of cultural heritage. Making an abstract intervention is easy, but it’s difficult to work with a site in full respect of its history. I try not to change or destroy the context, but to acknowledge it and work with it. Sometimes it just has to be shown to develop its power and and vigor. During my postgraduate programme in Heritage Conservation the question of how to deal with difficult heritage was often discussed. Luckily because of the interdisciplinarity of the different postgraduate students with a big variety in opinions. I hope to be a part of this workshop and to be able to realize my ideas about the preservation and preparation of cultural heritage on a really international, interdisciplinary, European level. Elisabeth Eulitz As a native of Dresden I was surrounded by the Second World War‘s traces all my life. Examination about history has always been related to reconstruction, undo gaps caused by the war up to restoration of the war‘s damages to recreate the prewar state of the city‘s center. For those who experienced the destruction of Dresden and know its unspoiled face this matter, even more, has a special importance. At least visually, this seems to be the final step within the process of overcoming sorrow, suffer and even guilt of the past.
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This kind of efforts of closing wounds remove visibly reminder of what happened before. But in my opinion those leftovers shouldn‘t be removed but stay being visible for postwar generations. That‘s important because our past is part of our identity. It reflects our ideas, the things we wish to preserve as part of our culture and also is able teach us in terms of the future. The Recall Project offers me the opportunity to discover a broader view on the complexity of this heritage and gives the chance to acquire my knowledge about this period‘s range. Furthermore it allows me to collect ideas how to realize a visual mark of this heritage, which unfortunately frequently are still barely recognizable relicts. I also hope this project enables me to translate this information into a freely accessible network. Because of my personal interest concerning this topic and in relation to the work about difficult heritage, it would be a pleasure for me and my team, to take part in this interesting challenge.
Images: All by teceel, except Nrs. 6, 7, 8 (Falstad Center), 9, 10 (Idea and Projection: Irene Brown, Newcastle), 20 (wikipedia).
REcall docs – Rome workshop book Published by Politecnico di Milano, DAStU © The Authors: Creative Commons: license CC BY SA 3.0
The Commandants House Stratigraphy What is eminent is the diversity of the Commandants Houses different historical layers. It functioned as a home for different types of people from the most diverse backgrounds, from Lagerkommandanten of the German occupation forces to Norwegian pupils. It is not itself a difficult space where difficult things happened, it is rather a space where difficult historical episodes were planned and thought of. Because of that, the space is more complex and commemoration is more complex: Things worth of commemoration have to be carved out and placed in context. With the massive refurbishments of the building in 1993/1998, most of the „historical“ artefacts of the original structure were removed. In general, what we have now is a building from the early 1990s. This fact should not be ignored. In our concept, most of the south-east part of the building is transformed into one big open space. The walls of today’s living rooms, the kitchen and further rooms are removed. The space should be disposed of all needlessness. Only in several broad stripes original material elements of the building are shown. These stripes function like archaeological layers or strata. Different layers of time are getting in a relation to one another. In our concept we tried to have a collection of historical details which is as undefined as possible. The viewer should not be guided, but should discover. We don‘t want a valuation of details or to establish the one possible reading of history, which always also means a blurring of other histories. The keyword in contemporary Norwegian dealing with difficult heritage is plurality. As many different histories as possible should be remembered, as many different views as possible. And to create a way of remembering that works, you have to indulge in this contemporaneity. Our design tries to live up to that: The stripes, our archaeological windows ,don‘t want to only highlight certain layers of time but want to show them all at the same time, make them comparable and let the viewer make up the complex relations between them.
REcall is a research project funded by EC Cluture 2007-13 Programme (n. 2012 - 0927 / 001 - 001 CU7 COOP7)