German architects tackle global issues


Saudi Arabia: Criminal Court Complex

Shaping cityscapes with artistic eye-catchers and user-friendly design means combining technical know-how with an understanding of the local culture. Albert Speer & Partners have designed many municipal buildings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, including this Mecca-like court complex in 2005. It's one of 40 projects currently shown in the "Contemporary Architecture. Made in Germany" exhibition in Paris.


Russia: Multi-functional Medical Center

In urban centers, public health is a key issue. Nickl & Partners' response in St. Petersburg was this medical center, which combines hospital facilities with rooms for research and teaching and living quarters for students and staff. The Center, meant for both military and civilian use, was completed in 2013.


China: Chenshan Botanical Garden

Landscape design and the conceptualization of public spaces go hand in hand with architecture. For the 2010 EXPO in Shanghai, the over 207-hectare botanical garden was developed by Auer Weber of Munich. With over half the world's population living in cities and over 24 million people in Shanghai, integrating nature into urban spaces will become increasingly relevant.


Ethiopia: Solar kiosk

Practical and efficient may be German stereotypes, but they apply here. This solar kiosk in southern Ethiopia was created in 2012 by Germany's Graft architects. Via solar panels on the roof, it provides a safe and cheap energy source and a small-business opportunity for local entrepreneurs. The kiosks - produced as kits to be assembled on site - sell phones, solar lanterns and refreshments.


Saudi Arabia: King Fahd National Library

The King Fahd National Library was built in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, by Gerber Architects in 2013. The cuboid structure integrates the local culture is two ways. The original library building was preserved within the new one, and its dome - an icon of culture in Riyadh - was remade in steel and glass. Meanwhile, the façade incorporates rhomboid textile awnings and recalls traditional Arab Patterns.


Kazakhstan: Vesnovka housing complex

For this six-building housing complex in the ancient Kazakh city of Almaty, it was crucial for Braun Schlockermann Dreesen to take the region's frequent earthquakes into account. The project, which was completed in 2010, consists of two 16-story and four nine-story apartment buildings, which were inspired by men's traditional hairstyles in Kazakhstan.


China: National Library

With room for 12 million books - many of them historical treasures - and some 2,000 readers, designing the extension to China's National Library in Beijing was no small project for Frankfurt-based architects KSP Jürgen Engel. Completed in 2008, it aims to link new and old: Its use of glass represents the present era and the passing on of China's rich cultural history.


Mongolia: Maidar City

This yet unfinished urban planning project is located south of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, and is named for the Buddha of the future, Maitreya. Sprawling out around a 54-meter Buddha statue in the center, the urban hub is meant to be car-free and environmentally friendly. The project by Cologne architects RSAA is a response to the influx of nomads in the city and will be completed in 2016.

Did you know that part of China's National Library and a St. Petersburg hospital were built by German architects? Architecture firms in Germany are expanding in developing markets by solving modern urban problems.

The Bauhaus design movement was, for many years, closely associated with German architecture. Founded by architect Walter Gropius and later continued by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bauhaus stood for the vision of uniting art and design.

It was the rise of the Nazi regime in the early 1930s that drove many of the country's Bauhaus architects into exile. Not only did their work become known abroad, but Bauhaus-style projects were erected in other country, including the 4,000-building White City complex in Tel Aviv and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Chicago Federal Plaza.

Now a new generation of German architects is establishing its reputation abroad, making the most of the positive attributes associated with the Made in Germany label - like quality and reliability - and focusing on sustainability, urban development and technology.

Most of the international projects can be found in neighboring countries like Austria, Switzerland and France. But the markets in Russia, the Arab world and especially China are increasingly opening up to German architects.

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German architecture in demand around the world

"The markets of the future aren't necessarily those, where the most money is or where there is an economic upswing. Perhaps they are the markets where climate change is creating the need for new urban development," Philipp Auer from Auer Weber Architects told DW.

According to a survey conducted by the Federal Chamber of German Architects, some eight percent of Germany's over 120,000 architects are active abroad. The aim of the Network for Architecture Exchange (NAX), founded in 2002 to promote German architecture abroad, is to expand that number - in part, with a new traveling exhibition.

Auer Weber is one of 28 German architecture firms now on show as part of the exhibition "Contemporary Architecture. Made in Germany" now on display at the German embassy in Paris.

The exhibition, which is set to run for the next two years in cities around the world, represents 40 international projects. It focuses on the challenges present-day architects face in the modern world, including climate change, sustainability, urban density, and technology.

Click on the gallery and the video above for more on Germany's architectural exports.

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