2021 Architecture Faculty Design Award: Anna Kaertner’s “Equivocal Elevations”

Four elevations.

"Equivocal Elevations" proposes an alternative way of extracting context using the technique of the elevation and aims to produce equivocal relationships between histories and building.

by Anna Kaertner (MArch I ’21) — Recipient of the Architecture Faculty Design Award, Master in Architecture I

The city of Leipzig has gone by many names—’Messestadt’, ‘Reichsmessestadt’, ‘Heldenstadt’, ‘Boomtown vom Osten’, ‘Schrumpfendestadt’, and more recently the hyphenated ‘Hypezig’. These pet-names serve as an index of the city’s successive civic identities. Since Leipzig’s bombing in 1943, political regimes and architects have utilized these identities as a means through which to direct construction. Individual sites are marked by a frenetic churn of destruction, construction, and re-construction.

These interrupted civic identities leave the context of Leipzig indeterminate—with unraveling, overlapping, and competing projections of past and future. Each interrupted version has sought to produce a resolute clarity to Leipzig’s urban legibility, with building elevations serving as the primary registration of each attempt at identity resolution.

Unrolled elevations with floorplan in the center.
The elevations, grafted from processed drawings of the surrounding elevations, produce at once a record and a projective plan for a building.

Equivocal Elevations proposes a Super Civic Service Center—building on the existing city-government institution of the Bürgerzentrum which provides public—to address the intersection of individual identity, city bureaucracy, and civic identity. Born out of the intense archival study of Leipzig, the elevations unearthed from site provide the architectural foundation for this new center. Elevations here do not propose a finite or shallow representation but instead equivocal relationships between histories and building, allowing elevation to both figure and be figured by the exterior and interior. By developing this method, the intent is to project a continued, open-ended irresolution to Leipzig’s identity while reflecting on the specificity of Leipzig’s numerous histories.

Visit the 2021 Virtual Commencement Exhibition to see more from this and other prize-winning projects and graduates.