As part of the MakeCity festival for architecture and other things, the embassy invites the people of Berlin to drop in and relax – even if it’s just for lunch. It is about the utopia of a philanthropic city. You could even have your fingernails painted there – the offer really exists, smiles Benjamin Anker, Counselor and Head of the Political Department.
The wall of the Rem Koolhaas building is covered with large posters depicting the “Humboldt Jungle” and the “Humboldt Volcano”, with which Elizabeth Sikiaridi and Frans Vogelaar recently caused a furore in the media.
You would like to oppose a participatory dimension to the major cultural project of the controversial Humboldt Forum, whereby you also deliberately refer to Alexander von Humboldt.
For example, the “Humboldt Volcano”, a house or, better, a castle-high conservatory, is to provide public access to the roof of the Humboldt Forum. As the visitor ascends to the summit, he traverses the flora of different climate zones around the world. An upstream waterfall crashes into a cave below Schlossplatz. The descent is to be shaped like a time travel through the earth ages – similar to Jules Verne’s journey to the center of the earth. But above all with regard to the research universe of Alexander von Humboldt.
For Rüdiger Schaper, who presented his publication “The Prussian and the New Worlds” at Studio Talk on Friday, Alexander von Humboldt was a pioneer. An early ecologist who developed the first sustainability concepts and understood nature as a network. He was also the first to describe the flora and fauna as a function of altitude above sea level. The whole world is to be found in the elevation of a single place, so the observation of the scholar. The course of the “Humboldt Volcano” plays with this idea and leads through the “height levels” of botanical, culinary and cultural geography.
It is a thrilling vision. It needs vision, persuasive power and – especially in present Berlin – a lot of perseverance. Christo and Jeanne-Claude had already experienced that on the long journey they had made to the covering of the riches. A utopia that not only enchanted the Berliners when it finally became reality after reunification.
Thus, the initiators of the Humboldt Volcano stick to their vision undaunted. And do not just come across creative support. A pump specialist from the northern German heath is already determined to get the waterfall going, according to Sikiaridi: “If you do that, I’m definitely there”.