Sauerbruch Hutton is a practice founded by Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton with its main offices in Berlin and London. Active as an independent concern for upwards of twenty years, they have developed a personal language that is essentially characterised by two evident features: the free, sinuous forms of some of their buildings and a bold, emphatic use of colour.
Subtending these obvious characteristics are other no less important ones that are in some way derived from the first ones. We are referring to their wish to create a sense of place, whatever the situation, be it in an urban centre or in a rundown industrial area on the outskirts. Their buildings are gestures on an urban scale that resolve the programme of needs defined by the client and establish a dialogue with the location.
Likewise, it is worth highlighting the strong backing they give to an architectural approach based on sustainability. Sauerbruch Hutton defend and construct a holistic idea of the sustainable that incorporates the aesthetic and sensual pleasure the users of the buildings experience as well as an energy-based analysis of the constructional process or passive and active energy systems. In short, theirs is a defence of sustainability that acts in a resolute way, without artifice or pretentiousness.
The introductory texts at the beginning of the volume, written by Barry Bergdoll and Philip Ursprung, analyse all these issues and provide us with clues to understanding and contextualising the work of Sauerbruch Hutton. Barry Berdoll (currently Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the MoMA in New York) offers a panoramic vision of their work. Bergdoll plots an historical route that begins with their famous GSW Building in Berlin (1991-1999), an icon of urban acupuncture, sited in the recently configured territory of East Germany, which served as a boost to revitalising the area. His essay contextualises the recent work of the architects presented later in the magazine.
In his essay Philip Ursprung, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at Universität Zürich, defends the iconic value of Sauerbruch Hutton's work, not as something negative but the opposite, rather: the ability of the architects to work with what they find in the location, city centre or rundown periphery, and to reveal through their intervention characteristics that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Presented in the central part of the magazine are recent works and projects that illustrate the features and ambitions of Sauerbruch Hutton's oeuvre at different scales, from urban projects to university and corporate buildings. Among the former, we publish the study for the Masséna Bruneseau area (Paris), the urban plan for the entrance to Tilburg (The Netherlands), a proposal for the city of Doha (Qatar), and a housing competition for a rapidly expanding area of the city of Helsinki, which the architects won in 2009.
Among the latter, it is worth highlighting the Federal Environmental Agency (Dessau), a building finished in 2005 that we have revisited and re-photographed in order to show its evolution. Also the building for the Municipal Savings Bank (Oberhausen), the Jessop West building for the University of Sheffield, the recently completed office buildings beside the Rhine in Cologne, and the high-rise building for the KfW Bankengruppe (Frankfurt). The sustainable energy analysis in these works is illustrated by means of numerous schemas and building details. Similarly, we might emphasise the Museum Brandhorst, a museum for a private collection opened in 2009 in the museums area of Munich, which is notable for its facade and spatial concept.
Lastly, and coinciding with the studio's twentieth anniversary, in the nexus section Sauerbruch Hutton offer us a personal reflection on the evolution of their professional practice and their more relevant preoccupations, such as sustainability, art, and the relationship between the physical and the visual world.