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Chemnitz 2025, first steps for “3000 Garages” project

By press release May 26, 2022
Chemnitz, garages Chemnitz, garages Photo by Johannes Richter

They are 3m x 6m x 2.80m stuck together in single or double rows, and many are grouped together in larger complexes. Some are built of corrugated iron, others of concrete slabs: garages. In all districts of the city of Chemnitz together, there are estimated to be between 3,000 and 30,000 garages. Many of them are simply used to park cars, while others are used for tinkering, hobbies, neighborhood chats or barbecues.

The garage complexes described are still part of the public space of the centers and peripheries, especially in eastern German cities. Originally created in this form in the post-Soviet states, garage yards still stretch across many cities in Europe today. They were once built communally and have long functioned as places of social encounter. Start-ups and crazy ideas were born in garages, and numerous bands originated here.

Garage yards as potential new places for improvisation and innovation have been an important part of Chemnitz’ application to become European Capital of Culture 2025. Together, Chemnitzer:innen should think about the future of the garage complexes and discuss how they could continue to be used – in their original function or, for example, as cultural meeting places for citizens:innen of the city. In view of the Capital of Culture Year 2025, the garage yards as urban-architectural objects and places of cultural and socio-historical significance as well as their uses will be recorded and analyzed in June 2022.In a first step, the Chemnitz garages will be visited, measured and mapped by architecture students and their lecturers in June 2022.

A project team is engaged in a first scientific mapping of the Chemnitz garages between 30.05. – 03.06.2022. 110 architecture students from the Munich University of Applied Sciences under the direction of Prof. Dr. des. Luise Rellensmann and Dipl.-Ing. Architect Jens Casper will map the garage yards in Chemnitz and record their various aspects. Guiding questions for the investigations are:

Where in Chemnitz are the garages located and how did they develop or become what they are?
What types of garages are there?
What community models and complexes are there?
How do the garages contribute to the structural diversity of Chemnitz?
What social activities develop around the garage yards?
The students will analyze the architecture and the characteristics of the different facilities. In their work, they will measure individual garages and garage yards, take documentary photos, and talk to interested garage users. Where access is granted to the students by the owners, they will also take a look inside the garages and document the rooms in accordance with data protection regulations.

In cooperation with the Building Authority, the Property Office and the City Archive Chemnitz, the students will analyze the construction files of selected facilities. In this way, they will measure and document numerous garages in Chemnitz. In the course of the project week, a first overview of the mapping will be created.

The mapping is a collaborative building survey by the Department of Historic Preservation, Building in Existing Contexts and Building Surveying at the Munich University of Applied Sciences with the aim of making the GDR garages of the city of Chemnitz visible as a building cultural heritage.

The student survey action ties in with the 2017 project “The Garage Manifesto” in Cottbus, which was published as a book by Park Books in 2021.

Compared to the architectural drawings and photographs featured in the book, the students will work with digital surveying and representation methods in color during the Chemnitz workshop under the guidance of surveyors and architects Jonathan Banz (Munich University of Applied Sciences / jbks.ch) and Kristof Schlüßler (Munich University of Applied Sciences / jbks.ch). Based on a contemporary understanding of historic preservation, the project team does not understand “building survey” in purely technical terms, but rather takes a holistic approach. The goal of the five-day survey is to understand and document the garages as both structural constructions and social places. The team is looking forward to meeting and getting to know garage owners and users.

Other information here.


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