How Do We Make Art Sustainable? A Power Station in Germany Lights the Way


by Harry Thorne, Frieze, September 16, 2019

From most angles, the building is imposing, its four floors of poured concrete and vast outdoor space amounting to over 10,000 square metres. But there is charm, also, with the various isolated renovation projects that have been undertaken over the years uniting elements of art deco and art nouveau with the raw simplicity of early-20th-century industrial German architecture and the exposed guts of the building’s century-old infrastructure. Like the joyously dramatic stained-glass window that crowns the entrance, its panes depicting a fist brandishing lightning bolts, the building unites brute functionality and aesthetic flourish in a manner that can only be described as delightfully clunky. 

This article is only vaguely related to my thesis since I am investigating the use of light for my project, and without electricity, there would be no artificial light. I do think what they are doing at this power plant is very interesting by directly investing into the arts community, but also their aesthetic choices. They take something that is typically seen as dirty and grimy, all of machines turning over and grinding away and trying to turn it into something beautiful. I’m not saying that I want to make crime seem beautiful, but trying to turn the situation around in an alternative way is interesting.