Urban Planning Studio SoSe 2023
Architectural Ethnography: Case Study House W

Tutors: Oxana Gourinovitch
Chair: Urban Monument Preservation and Urban Cultural Heritage (Herold), Institute of Urban and Regional Planning

Rouzbeh Afshari, Gloren Anto, Ruben Kulik Beider, Lea Fast, Farzaneh Fazlikhni, Martina Friedrich, Shalina Hoffmann, Setarah Jedigoli, Martin Schönberg, Verena Wagener

“Architectural Ethnography, in reconnecting pieces of today‘s disconnected society, and critiquing from viewpoints both inside and outside of architecture, allows us to learn many things from the drawings of our time” – Momoyo Kaijima 2018 For her “Experiments” with Architectural EthnographerKaijima proposes varying modes of viewing – drawing of architecture, drawing for architecture, drawing among architecture and drawing around architecture. Through our distinctive perspectives each of us have attempted exactly this. Our theoretical understanding of the topic was informed through the readings of Tim Ingold, Bernard Rudofsky, Bruno Latour and Albena Yaneva – yet we carry out the study only in its original mode- “as an experiment”

Wrobel’s house is located in the far suburban, just outside the official boundary of Berlin. Built in 1945 by Carl Metzner from the ruins of Berlin, it tells a fascinating tale of time, space and context and most importantly of its residents.

  1. 1937 – Karl Metzner – a Berlin stone mason sculptor starts his office and workshop right next to the railway station of the newly planned central cemetery of Berlin- in preparation for the grand capital of the world Germania.
  1. 1945 – At the end of the WWII the Metzners decide to leave Berlin city which had suffered huge damages in the bombing. They decide to build a house in Stahnsdorf in the outskirts of Berlin where Karl Metzner formerly had his office.
  2. The raw material from the house comes from the rubble of the Berlin bombing, among which are some parts of museums and famous structures. Metzner given his vocation as a stone mason/sculptor skilfully integrates this into his house.
  3. Another source of material is from the old cemeteries of Schöneberg, Berlin. from which 15,000 graves were moved to the Stahndorf cemetery. The surplus gravestones served as a resourceful alternative to building materials in post war Berlin.
  4. 1973 – After the death of her husband Johanne Metzner sells her house to Wilfred Zander – a professional film stuntman. In the stories related in popular accounts and printed in newspapers – Zander is believed to have kept his pet tiger in the back yard. Our Interview with Zander though revealed this was only a legend, there were in fact two donkeys that have mutated to a tiger in the legend.
  5. 1975 – Within three years Zander’s application to migrate to West Germany was accepted. He sold the house to Egon Wrobel – an artist and sculptor. Egon has changed the house through his art exhibits and extensions and has been home to him since then.
  6. Egon’s and Haus W are coherently connected inseparable entities. As Wrobel also works in his workshop that he built at Haus W, his work additively transforms the house progressively.