I Walked in a Field of Stellae

It is nothing short of an architectural feat of ingenuity when you create a space that evokes not only emotion but physical reactions from so many people. I found such a place in Berlin;

The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.

Designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold, the vast memorial consists of a grid of 2711 concrete slabs that stand upright on a sloping field.

This is a fascinating place to visit. Not only to take in the sight in person but to watch the reaction of others.

It is said that Peter Eisenman intended; “the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason”.

I have to admit that the above is a precise description of my feelings whilst walking through the field of stelae. I am claustrophobic an though the slabs are evenly and amply spaced….the looming height of them made me feel trapped. And, the rolling rise and fall of the sloping ground made me feel a bit dizzy.

It’s quite disorientating too….

People bumping into people at every turn.

Dislocated voices rising from nowhere.

But then…………………for some, it brought out the child inside.

A hundred games of hide and seek all at once. Strangers running into each other. Screeches, tears, lost kids…worried parents.

We could have stayed there all day long.

This is an example of stunning, poignant and tactile architecture that provokes emotion and spirit, an impressive reminder of the bitter past. I hope that such architectural experimentation makes it way to London for we are a city are sorely lagging behind in this sense.

Photos by Das Foto Pon
Trousers from Vivienne Westwood
Silk blouse from Zara