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Atelier ST celebrates its tenth anniversary with a monograph. Photo © Sarah Böttger, Stylepark
Let’s get personal
by Adeline Seidel
11/5/2015

Leipzig-based architecture studio Atelier ST, founded in 2005 by architects Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut and Sebastian Thaut, who are a couple, has celebrated its first ten years with a book. A decade isn’t that long a time in architecture, in a sector in which it takes a while until a project is completed. Quite unlike start-up companies in Silicon Valley, which often don’t even make it to ten years.

But back to Atelier ST and its printed self-representation, and initially simply to what it looks like: Wrapped in green, the book lies light in the hand (well, for a monograph). Not that it seems thin. Although the words “Architektur und Du” stand out in white capitals on the hardcover, there’s nothing of the former to be seen. Instead, two little green men attract the eye. The absence of architecture and the trick with directly addressing the reader is appealing and certainly encourages one to leaf through the book. The design features a nicely uncluttered layout that definitely makes for an easy read. Large letters, pleasant spacing, and lots of visual tidbits positioned meaningfully between the text. Sometimes the images cover a page or run across two pages, but you never get the impression that the copy is merely an addendum to them.

The brains behind the book were evidently not hell-bent on a rigorous or complete account of things. Rather, editors Stephan Burkoff and Jeanette Kunsmann (the two founders of the still very young Mitte/Rand Verlag, which published the book) wanted to plug a gap: “We thought that what was lacking was a book about architecture and you. A book about the stories of everyone involved. Each told from their own perspective.” So it is hardly surprising that with the one or other of the total of seven projects presented, it is sometimes ground plans or elevations, and sometimes sections or sketches that are provided along with photos – and on other occasions they are not. There is also no information on the selection criteria for precisely these seven projects from the architects’ oeuvre. Possibly it was simply these projects where the developers also had something to say.

With the book Kunsmann and Burkoff wanted to offer something other than the customary, at times excessively objective project descriptions and as such they rely on quite a range of types of text to convey an idea of the architecture. The reader thus finds out about the design process for the Luther Archive in Eisleben through the parable of two brothers; a developer recalls her personal architectural preferences; and the monograph even boasts a boom ballad. And of course a lengthy interview with the architects.

Yet in the final analysis you won’t find “stories by everyone involved” in this book. The tradesmen get forgotten, so do the users, unless the latter is a developer. And most certainly all those concerned in a project don’t get a say. Which would have been exciting: a package with all the different perspectives and stories of those involved on a single project – for example for the operations building for Forest District 14 in Eibenstock. But then the book would not have been a monograph on architects, but one about the building. Despite this lack of conceptual clarity, the publication is very pleasant, as are the architects themselves, not to mention informative and entertaining. Making it an ideal read for a day by the pool, in the park, or in bed. Because you can simply leaf through this book without feeling some need for great reverence for the works of architects; the nonchalant tone means you can enjoy browsing through it as if it were a magazine.

www.atelier-st.de


Architektur und Du

Eds. Stephan Burkoff & Jeanette Kunsmann
134 pages, hardcover
Mitte Rand, Berlin 2015
EUR 34.90
www.mitte-rand.de

Atelier ST celebrates its tenth anniversary with a monograph. Photo © Sarah Böttger, Stylepark
Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut and Sebastian Thaut are Atelier ST. Photo © Anikka Bauer
Silvia Schellenberg-Thaut and Sebastian Thaut are Atelier ST. Photo © Anikka Bauer
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The book from the inside. All photos © Sarah Böttger, Stylepark
The book from the inside. All photos © Sarah Böttger, Stylepark