März / April 2011

Universität der Künste, Berlin

A Visitors Center to the United Nations


von Ilija Bentscheff


Universität der Künste, Berlin


19. Oktober 2010


Prof. E. Sobejano, Prof. A. Krischanitz, Prof. C. Gengnagel




Rhinoceros, Grasshopper, SolidWorks, 3DS Max, VRay, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Word

The design for the new building creates a threshold for representation, art and education. It acts as the connection between the city and the United Nations Headquarters; a truly public building. The building-form is a series of monumental walls as a response to the underlying grid-vectors of the city and the U.N. Headquarters. The building invites the visitor into a journey through the history and recent work of the U.N. evoking a truly physical experience of the achievements and currents works of the U.N..

The dominant grid of Manhattan may be understood in the Kantian sense as a transcendental basis, superimposed as a symbol of pure rationality abandoning any negotiation with the topography of the physical place and its natural conditions. This collision of the grid and the waterline of the East River articulate fractional city blocks. My proposal utilizes the structure of this condition to inform the basic volumetric structure to suggest a notion of the city and the possibility of constant change and expansion. The basic volumes are oriented along the dominant direction of the city blocks to form a notion of a continuation of the city as the symbol of the public onto the site: onto the North Lawn of the U.N. territory. The U.N. buildings are placed in north-south orientation, perpendicular to the Manhattan blocks and seem to stand against the structuring grid of the city as an autonomous composition. Those two directions on the site inform the second underlying formal diagram of my proposal; a negotiation of the two directions.

The U.N. buildings articulate a for my proposal very important relationship between the ground/datum and the buildings. The ground is the datum of the composition and is the normative plane for the original composition which has to be read as distributed volumes of various types (vertical slab, flat box and object). This distribution also carries the notion of a fictional reading; a reading of transparency in terms of the function and organization of the buildings. The separated volumes clearly display their function in a typological sense by being neither transparent nor publically accessible. The notion of the ground is informing the third formal-conceptual diagram or layer of my proposal; detaching the building form the datum.