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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel

Turnstile

Ursula Damm

Ursula Damm has created an interactive installation involving multiple elements. At its center is a large LED screen displaying the real-time movements of passersby on the city surface – transformed through a computer program. The resulting images of small, virtual life forms are create through the constantly changing dynamic energy of the passersby. This concept recurs in the blue glass of the station’s walls. Geometrically interpreted aerial views of Dusseldorf are presented as whole or excerpts.

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Ursula Damm – Turnstile

Text by Anja Schürmann

»A current of organic life surges from these communal groups – which share a common destiny – to their ornaments, endowing these ornaments with a magic force and burdening them with meaning to such an extent that they cannot be reduced to a pure assemblage of lines.« (Siegfried Kracauer)*

The Mass Ornament by Siegfried Kracauer also has a connection to the artistic work of Ursula Damm. Her design of the Schadowstraße U-Bahn station can be roughly divided into two parts: First the passerby is received in a space outfitted in blue glass tiles. On the tiles are 21 aerial photographs of Dusseldorf’s land registry showing the city in maps corresponding to their compass points. There is a detail of Golzheim in the northern part of the station, in the south you can see Bilk, and so on.
The artist subjected these maps to a geometrical process, which is rendered as a guide to the station: starting from the main traffic arteries the streets are axes of movement to other streets in a geometric ratio, enclosed by a surface with several corners – a polygon. From these polygons the angles and axes form larger, more symmetrical polygons that can be used to aid the different sections of the map. With these large structures, Damm attempts to create a relationship between the two-dimensional surfaces, like parks or housing blocks, on the maps to link the abstract structures back to the »energy centers which have adapted to each other during the development of the urban architecture.«
The centerpiece of Turnstile is a large LED screen on the tunnel level, stretching between two light shafts and connected to a video camera located above ground on Schadowstraße. It is there that the data for visualization is collected: real-time movements of passersby are filmed and transmitted to the screen and are then collected as a statistical mean. People can also interact with a polygon here, the direction of their movements has the capability of disrupting the stability of the geometric forms. In this way, the connections between passersby are re-established and reach beyond to be further considered and calculated.
Schadowstraße and its U-Bahn mark a turnstile where the greatest concentration of traffic meets in the city center and the most people are transported in any number of ways; whereas the second part of the word turnstile points simultaneously to a tile, a panel. On this screen there is the perspective of things being seen rather than what is seen, in the sense of concentrated layers, so that the original collection of data remains abstract and yet perceptible. The operation follows the thesis that in addition to what is constructed in urban centers there exists yet another form of architecture, fed by the energetic footsteps of passersby, their short-term relationships and their movements. The geometric forms seen on the LED screen refuse to understand the people as a mass and to assume their behavior is predictable, because they develop individual, non-repeatable gaits. On the empty spots of the most frequented locations created by the space designed by the software. From here, centers are identifiable, marked in white and constantly seek out new, flexible points of contact to other centers. The result is a virtual architecture that is always adaptable to interact with the people who use the space. Similar to Vitruvius, the ancient architectural theorist, here, man is the measure of all things. Yet, it is not a static, rather a moving, person that Damm has in mind to reverse the hierarchy of built-up and utilized urban space.
As a counterpoint and correction of a hegemonic narrative, the artist offers an alternative count on several levels. The design asks if it’s possible to generalize individual behavior, as a person of distinct perspectives, and transfer them into parameters which correspond to swarm movements. And, does the way we move in public space have consequences for larger structures, for architects or for entire neighborhoods? Are urban structures at all anthropomorphic, in that they resemble human behavior? If so, then every step is safe or reasonable, because every step structures, marks and – thus the instructions at the station are only logical – takes on a creative role.

* Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament: Weimar Essays. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press, 1995. p. 76.

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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Artistic Conception, Kuenstlerisches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Ursula Damm

Process and Construction

The central projection surface is integrated into the large front wall of the station. Here, reactive digital video is generated in real time. A video camera records the movements of aboveground passersby. These are then inputted into a specially developed software and treated as “energy sources” or virtual food. Small virtual creatures build a temporary, fluctuating architecture from the kinetic energy that emerges and vanishes with the daily rhythms of passersby. In order to keep this system running, it has at its disposal a global energy balance, an environment consisting of (simulated) physical parameters, which keep its metabolism (information processing) at work and by means of evolutionary processes in turn influence the nature of these “creatures.”
In the blue glass panes of the subway station individual, room-high panels have been installed in suitable locations, where they show the districts of Düsseldorf like a sprinkle of geometries. First of all a line drawing was prepared of the cityscape. The intention being to highlight important pedestrian axes and traffic flow. The areas enclosed by the axes were then transformed into polygons and the angles of the lines and axes calculated as integer fractions of regular polygons. The smallest polygon, which integrates all of the symmetries of the location, is then used to describe the intersection. In a further step the connections (network) between the large polygons of a neighborhood are defined.

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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stationen, Schadowstrasse, Prozess und Baukunst, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Graphik
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stationen, Schadowstrasse, Prozess und Baukunst, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Rolltreppe, Photo Joerg Hempel

Spatial Concept

Passengers approach the west end of the station on Jan Wellem Platz via a short, wide entrance point connected to the upper concourse. The entrance is located in a cut that widens out like a funnel towards the platform level below, affording passengers clear views of the concourses. Two glass elevators serving the ground level are located between the staircases that are positioned on either side. In addition, a large skylight integrated into ground level benches located between the elevators brings natural light down as far as the platform level.
At its east end, the route leading to the exits at Schadowstrasse/Bleichstrasse and Schadowstraße/Wagnerstrasse are extremely narrow due to construction constraints, the entrances are positioned in parallel at the street level and snuggle up to the tunnel. Here the platform terminates in front of escalators, which lead up to the concourse from the platform level; there are no staircases. Walls on both sides frame the entrances, and the ceiling is slightly splayed to provide better visibility. Here the cut interrupts breaks the Continuum and with its material qualities defines the area at platform level.

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Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, Schwarzplan
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, Modell
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Spatial Conception, Raeumliches Konzept, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo netzwerkarchitekten
Wehrhahnlinie Duesseldorf, Stations, Schadowstrasse, Ursula Damm, netzwerkarchitekten, Photo Joerg Hempel