words Beatrice Galilee
A 1950s train station, 1930s office buildings and a medieval cathedral are all distorted and compressed in the facets and prisms of a brightly coloured urban kaleidoscope in the city centre of Cologne.
“The idea is that the crystal reflects and fragments the city,” says architect Marco Hemmerling, who created the structure known as “Cityscope” as part of an architecture festival in the west German city. “Everything is out of context. The spires of the cathedral are next to the station. You begin to perhaps understand the density of what is happening in the city.”
The form of the crystal was designed using 3D parametric software and was produced using CNC-milling directly from the programme. Its facets are specifically angled to capture and fracture the most interesting aspects of its surroundings – to capture the length of the long square or the tall buttresses of the cathedral. The structure is a light aluminium frame, built like the chassis of a Formula One car. It is clad with acrylic panels and a thin synthetic foil provides the kaleidoscope effect.
Hemmerling, who also works at a CAD professor in Detmold, is interested in the way that the installation can change the way people see their city. “The idea of it as an object, it brings people together,” he says. “It makes you think about what you see.” He says. “The city becomes one object. It’s a complex system that moves and changes. It stimulates interaction and distorts people’s perception.”
top image Christian Doppelgatz