Space – Perception – Consciousness

During the three days of this seminar, kindly hosted in the Great Hall of the University Campus, work was done with the aim of highlighting some fundamental aspects of human perception of space. In the first session, on Friday afternoon, Luigi Fiumara, Martin Riker and Willem-Jan Beeren opened the proceedings by laying the groundwork for the exercises planned for the following days in some religious buildings with very different characteristics.

Friday 8 March

The meeting takes place at the first and oldest site of the Alanus University: a few wooden buildings lined up on the top of the Alfter hill, surrounded by large meadows where the sun shines beautifully in the cold March air. There is also a large brown earthen fence with two horses resting in the sun. There are about 30 of us in the room, at least half of them students from the university, the others from all over: Germany, Holland, Austria, even the United States. Then there are us Italians, from the Living Organic Architecture group, three of whom were present. In this first afternoon session, the speakers will present their introductory topics one by one; the first is Luigi Fiumara. Luigi introduced the theme of architecture as an extension of physical forces operating at an unconscious level, which we can partly perceive by observing what happens in our bodies when we are in a certain space, exposed to certain shapes. To demonstrate this, he had set up an experiment using large cardboard panels placed side by side to simulate enclosed spaces of different shapes, in which people took turns expressing their impressions and describing how these were transformed by changing position. The idea was to show how each of the different external shapes worked inwards, starting with a narrow triangular space, then a hexagon, and finally a pentagon. The most surprising thing about this experiment, which was later confirmed by the same one carried out the following day in much larger spaces, was to compare thedifferent impressions spontaneously expressed by those present and to see how much they were shared by the majority of participants. Inside the triangular enclosure, for example, the strong ‘acute’ character of the space produced a physically felt ‘sense of ‘closure’ in the chest area, like a kind of breathing contraction, a general stiffening of the disposition, which became more acute the more one stood in front of one of the sides; the effect of oppression increased along with the rigidity of breathing.

Space perception exercise with L.Fiumara © Corrado Zizzo

In the rapid transition from the triangle to the hexagon, the inner feeling changed, this time releasing (again in the chest) a shared sense of ‘openness’ which seemed to allow deeper, ‘softer’ and more relaxed breathing. Despite the presence of the clearly visible corners, the more perceptible ‘circularity’ of the hexagon leads one to feel a greater ‘centredness’ within oneself, rather than an expansion free of limits and obstacles. A further change in spatial perception resulted from the transformation of the shape into a pentagon. Again, the angles were sharpened, but instead of producing the vaguely claustrophobic sensation experienced in the triangular space, the dominant sensation shifted from the chest to the head, as if the sudden directionality of this new shape, accompanied by its expansion (and this was particularly felt when one positioned oneself on the side opposite the corner), acted at the level of concentration, of thought, with less focus on the body and more on reasoning. These observations on the pentagonal shape have led to further considerations that undoubtedly need to be explored. I would like to add that the consideration of these aspects cannot be separated from the attention to the quality of designed spaces; from the consideration of what we actually experience of a building when we stand inside it, without consciously grasping it while engaged in something else. Of course, these values cannot be mathematised, but nevertheless we cannot but consider them essential in preparing certain spaces for certain functions. On the basis of these observations, we can say that design is “perceiving with intuition” and therefore being able to foresee the kind of effect the space can have on the people who will use it.

12 senses scheme by Martin Riker – correspondences in architecture

In the second lecture, Martin Riker took up the subject of the 12 senses described by Steiner and how they can be attributed to precise aspects of spatial perception. He used various examples to show how the mind is naturally inclined to give meaning to what it perceives, even to the point of filling in the missing pieces in the case of fragmented impressions. In order to practise perception properly, it is necessary to try to counteract this tendency by avoiding any association or even unconscious attempt to attach an arbitrary meaning to the object, derived from our personal experience. Through the description of the diagram presented (below), for example, he emphasised the difference between what we perceive inside us and what we perceive outside us, and how these two distinct resonances are intertwined, also describing the kind of forms that are perceived in their entirety only through the passage of time, as in the case of music, to then go on to emphasise the (designable) relationship between a space and what happens inside it, making it a whole capable of supporting the type of activity through the rendering of specific, appropriate sensations.

The last lecture of the day was given by Willem-Jan Beeren on the no less important topic of sound propagation in space and how much the perception of a place, a situation, a narrative, is also influenced by this aspect. Background voices, street noises, sounds, melodies… how the ear in its structural complexity is able to attribute spatial dimensions and characters from sound impressions, just as the eye is able to do through shapes, colours, movement, etc. To better render the concepts expressed, Willelm-Jan has quoted excerpts from texts by Juhani Pallasmaa, which I have transcribed, in order to better convey the concepts expressed:

“… sight isolate, whereas sound incorporates; vision is directional, whereas sound is omni-directional. The sense of sight implies exteriority, but sound creates an experience of interiority. I regard an object, but sound approaches me; the eye reaches, but the ear receives. Buildings do not react to our gaze, but they do return our sounds back to our ears. (…)”

“Hearing structures and articulates the experience and understanding of space. We are not normally aware of the significance of hearing in spatial experience, although sound often provides the temporal continuum in which visual impressions are embedded. When the soundtrack is removed from a film, for instance, the scene loses its plasticity and sense of continuity and life. (…)“

“Sight is the sense of the solitary observer, whereas hearing creates a sense of connection and solidariety; our look wanders lonesomely in the dark depths of a cathedral, but the sound of the organ makes us immediately experience our affinity with the space. (…) the sound measures space and makes its scale comprehensible.”

(Juhani Pallasmaa – The Eyes of the Skin, pag. 49)

The way all the sounds in a place interact with each other determines the (sound) quality of that place. Every space is an acoustic space. In addition, Willem-Jan has highlighted some particularly interesting sites on these aspects; intended as design support tools for architects, designers, etc.:

https://www.wfae.net/

https://urbanidentity.info/

As well as examples of artists who have worked with sound: Bernhard Leitner: Space experience with sounds; Max Neuhaus: Times Square.

Saturday 9 March

Perception exercises in the Cologne Cathedral and in the Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria

The visits were organised according to the premises indicated yesterday. Divided into groups, we experienced space from the three points of view described yesterday afternoon. In the first exercise, we turned our attention to the pure perception of forms and space, without intellectual filters and mediations, focusing on the bodily effects of the observed elements. We began by doing the exercise in relation to the arch that separates the transept from the nave. The apex of the pointed arch was recognised as causing a sense of punctual concentration in the forehead or chest area, depending on the person, while the pillars were associated with a sense of vertical flow from top to bottom in the arms or torso to the legs. This flow also induces a more upright posture. The effects described led to an understanding of the general effect of Gothic in the area of strengthening individual consciousness as a precursor to the Renaissance. Attention was then turned back to the opposite side of the nave, namely the full-height arch with the wide dark and sombre cornice at the exit. In the case of this second arch, the effect of concentration was less pronounced due to the width of the moulding band, which curves seamlessly from the piers to form the ashlars of the arch and therefore does not produce a punctual arch key. On the other hand, the width of the piers and the relative narrowness of the passage between them accentuate the sense of the vertical flow in the torso, which here appears wider and more invasive, creating a sense of greater solidity or seriousness and connection to the earth, and at the same time a certain oppression. It is no coincidence that these effects are linked to the movement towards the exit, towards the city, towards the return to everyday life. And all of this is diametrically opposed to the sensation felt on entering, when the luminous grandeur of the apse and the extraordinarily high naves, flooded with natural light filtered through the large windows, produced a clear physical sensation of loss of weight at the level of the head, of height, of evanescence, as if a sucking force were acting, tending to project forward, in the body and in the will.

Cathedral Church of Saint Peter – Cologne ©  Cristina Marino

Bringing attention to the sphere of sound, the nature of the exercise was to try to make hearing predominant, in order to pick up the differences between one space and another through the perception of sound alone. In the underground crypt, for example, a kind of square box with a low ceiling, the background sounds generated by the footsteps and voices of the many visitors bounced clearly off the stone perimeter walls, giving a precise volumetric impression of the room. It was as if, with the eyes closed, sound became volume. The sense of the experiment became even clearer when moving from the centre of the hall to one of the side walls, the sound also moved completely to one side, redrawing the mental space from this new position. Then walking through the tunnel around the staircase that led to the surface as one approached the exit, the closed sound opened up more and more, also expanding the sense of space around it as well. In the nave, on the other hand, the sound rises upwards, making the height of the space perceptible.

St. Gertrud Church

The same perceptual approaches lead, in the case of the Church of St. Gertrud, to quite different results precisely because of the different architectural conformation. Here, we find ourselves in a large, completely free hall, devoid of central elements but characterised by an irregular perimeter and a facetted, angular roof, which strongly influences both the perception of the space both at the level of bodily sensations and sound effects. The lack of directional scanning makes the sound confused, rumbling and ‘circular’, whose origin is not understood, like overlapping echoes that fill the box spreading freely. The effect is reminiscent of the echoes of chant in ancient monasteries, a chant that becomes a vibrating instrument. The facetted ceiling ‘cuts’ and fragments the sound into successive segments, as if a sudden noise, such as a clap or a thump, is broken up into tiny fragments after reaching a certain height.

Space perception exercises inside St. Gertrude Church ©  Cristina Marino

The dark, medieval, cave-like character of the dark, the porous surfaces and the heavy, massive appearance are the first impressions on entering. On a bodily level, very noticeable effects were immediately perceived at the level of the head, as if the articulated shape of the ceiling created an uncomfortable effect, similar to the impression of a foreign body leaning across the forehead. Indeed, the angular heaviness of the fan-shaped elements above the room is very noticeable, especially one of them, which is at a lower level than the others. But if you stay in a place for a long time, if you immerse yourself in it, you become more and more aware of the effect it can have, as in this case, on your sense of balance and proprioception. A detail such as the predominance of the orthogonal axis in relation to the central one that leads from the entrance to the altar, together with the lack of depth of the back wall, is felt here as an obstacle to the ample breathing that one would have in the presence of a three-dimensional apse, together with a general sense of imbalance that generates disorientation. And this can be felt all the way down the torso to the legs. Observing, even intuitively, the strong asymmetry that characterises this space, and feeling its effects, provides useful observations for the design of classrooms, for example, where an incorrectly assessed shape can easily lead to pupils having difficulty concentrating and a general feeling of confusion.

DiTiB Central Mosque

Following the himam class inside the mosque ©  Cristina Marino

The experience of the mosque, for those who, like me, were entering it for the first time, led to broader observations about the different cultural and religious aspects and the architectural spaces derived from them. First of all, we find ourselves in a large complex conceived as a centre for cultural and social, as well as religious, aggregation. The mosque is therefore a building that forms part of a larger complex in which the practical functions (cultural centre, Imams’ school, meeting rooms and a library) are concentrated in buildings with a rectilinear shape, while the space intended for worship is entirely characterised by the curved line and general roundness. Nothing of the Christian character we are used to is to be found in this space, which is on the contrary sunny, open and joyful. The interior of the mosque consists of a huge circular space covered by a large dome made up of two roughly symmetrical shells joined by a curved perimeter window that runs through it from one side to the other.

Exterior of the mosque ©  Cristina Marino

The floor of the circular room is covered with a blue-turquoise long-pile carpet which,when illuminated by natural light, ‘lights up’ with the blue of the sky and harmonises with it, symbolising – the guide explained to us – of a lightening of the ground that ‘elevates’ and takes away the importance of earthly aspects. The guide explained that this space was meant to suggest freedom and lightness, spiritual communion with the divine. The guide’s long explanations, the curiosity, the questions that many wanted to ask, took up much of the attention. Certainly Steiner’s recommendation – to separate sensory perception from the system of interpretations – way very difficult to put into practice here. The attempt to perceive the space was influenced by our feeling of detachment from this type of community and our lack of knowledge of the customs and symbols of the place of worship. It was inevitable to realise how heavily our perceptual apparatus depends on our experience and culture of everything.

Details of the dome ©  Cristina Marino

Conclusions

On Sunday morning, the last half-day of the seminar, we met to share our impressions of the experience. We put up the sketches that each participant had made from memory, representing the main impression of each of the three places. We noted, albeit briefly, what had already been noted, namely that the dominant impressions were common. The observations varied, but one essential point seems to me to be the way inwhich architecture, through its mission, prepares space for its profound function. In the case of this type of spaces, not only religious but extended to a population, the basis is the construction of a specific consciousness, that lies behind everything, including perception. The visit to the mosque also raised the question of what is the ‘sense of the sacred’; what are the elements that really give a religious architecture the ‘sense of the sacred’ (which for us, coming from the Christian tradition, was totally absent in the mosque).

In ancient times, the Christian space had precise characteristics, which have certainly evolved, but which still correspond to today with our ‘sense of the sacred’. They were spaces designed to ecourage contemplation and prayer, (enclosed, closed, austere, enveloping, not very bright, more or less decorated, with small openings in the thick masonry to favour defined beams of light directed towards specific points in the interior, …). The language of Christianity made use of recurring elements that favoured the coming together of believers in the recognition of the same symbols, and this is certainly true of any other religious culture, in which the associative and interpretive codes are different. In the case of the Cologne mosque, it is not only this aspect that be taken into account, but also the strong aggregative function of the entire complex for a foreign community. Hence the strong distinctive architectural character of a community.

Sketches of the remaining impressions ©  Cristina Marino

 

 

 




Thoughts on human being and architecture

Alberts & Van Huut – Gasunie, Groningen, NL – © Pieter van der Ree

Human being and architecture

The ideas of human being and architecture open up a wide, very wide field of topics. Libraries are already filled with what can be written, read and reported on architecture. The relationship between architecture and human being may be a pleonasm that only states the obvious: Architecture must always focus on people, because we are people. If, on the other hand, one refers only to the idea of human beings, what is to be written and read opens up almost infinitely. Everything lives in these concepts. The essence of the human being is central, and the context therefore also includes architecture.

As an example, the question can be asked: Under what premises do we as humans (sometimes architects) create our built world? Are we godlike creators or do we only create what is imposed on us from outside by all kinds of laws and circumstances? And are we thus more like a bio-robot after all? In the same way, one could report on a building that pleases one person and not another. How then can an objective description or evaluation be made? What makes an event newsworthy, what makes it a distant memory?

Answering these questions is not easy and cannot be done unambiguously or quickly. However, the central idea is that answering the questions can only succeed with a comprehensive world view. A worldview that does not stop at our physicality alone, but assumes that human beings are part of a cosmos that includes soul and spirit alongside the material world. This world view is not to be understood as a closed paradigm. Only the lively struggle for concepts, the recognition of connections and the juxtaposition of different points of view illuminate it. Just as one-sided rejection or mere approval is not supportive to the world view. The free exploration and conscious grasping of all facets is the path we want to take in order to understand what holds our world together in its innermost being. From this an open view of the world is formed and at the same time a superordinate context emerges, in which alone a true observation may succeed.




Why do we need a journal?

Luigi Fiumara

The IFMA came into being at a time – the end of the 1980s – that can almost be described as the culmination of the popularity of anthroposophically inspired organic architecture – symbolised by the ING Bank headquarters in Amsterdam, by the design of the Deutsche Bahn trains by the firm BPR and by the Rudolf Steiner Seminar in Järna. The size, quantity and significance of the projects carried out by anthroposophical architects generated widespread interest in their approach. In such a situation, the need for exchange and deepening was natural, and the IFMA provided a platform for this.
Today we are in an almost polar situation, where even anthroposophical institutions often show little interest in – or even rejection of – organic design, and where regulatory and economic developments often lead to major restrictions on freedom in planning. Accordingly, the amount of requests and the number and quality of realised projects in the field of organic architecture are much more modest than in the 1980s and 1990s. Therefore, the question naturally arises as to how far and with what objectives an exchange on the topics of organic design can be interesting and appropriate on the background of the current situation. Even the further existence of a magazine like M+A cannot be taken for granted at a time when new significant organic buildings rarely emerge and can be shown.
Looked at another way, perhaps it is precisely in such a time of crisis that it is important to have the opportunity to exchange ideas about the foundations and future development of an ideal approach, in order to jointly explore new ways of developing an impulse.
In this sense, it is of great importance to also notice and discuss small attempts that try to respond to today’s challenges, because in them can lie the seeds for new approaches. The more such small – and perhaps outwardly insignificant compared to earlier impressive achievements – examples will come to light, the easier it will be for other architects to build on them to develop new ways of working.
Another phenomenon that increases the importance of an exchange platform is the growing amount  of interesting examples of organic architecture in countries and continents that previously had nothing to offer from this point of view. At the same time, areas where much has been created in the past are becoming less active. One consequence of this is the ever increasing differentiation of design approaches and working methods, depending on the environment and culture. We as editors very much hope that the new online format can make a significant contribution to the development of a global awareness of the situation and achievements of the organic movement. This will be all the more successful if spontaneous reports on projects and events also flow in from various corners of the world.
The possibility of automated translation of content built into the website should serve to overcome language barriers in all directions, for both readers and authors. On the whole, the articles – compared to a printed medium – will have less pretension to perfection, in favour of spontaneity and diversity.
Our wish would be to continually expand the circle of contributors and co-writers, more along the lines of a forum than of a traditional magazine. So feel not only a reader but also a contributor to the new medium, and please send us any material – even if just pictures of a little-known project you happened to see – that you think might be of interest to others. There won’t be too much!




Space – Perception – Consciousness

Weekend seminar at the Alfter University in Germany
8th -10th March 2024 | Language: English
For details see

https://www.alanus.edu/fileadmin/user_upload/veranstaltungen/architektur/2024-03_Flyer_Alanus_Wochenende7.pdf




Meeting “Intention and Inspiration in the Design Process” in Alfter

The audience listening to Gregory Burgess – Photo by Christoph Schmidt

Neja Häbler, Christoph Schmidt (Germany)

 

In May, at the Alanus University in Alfter, young and adult practicing architects and architecture students interested in Organic Architecture gathered to exchange experiences and deepen the theme of “Intention and inspiration in the design process“. Such occasions are very meaningful to me, as they represent a chance to meet directly people from around the world who are, in their own way, trying to work in a similar direction.This gathering had also the particularity that a couple students from Alanus became an active and a vital part of its organization, which I found pretty inspiring. This active participations of students who, like myself, are curious to learn and experience the theory and practice of architecture through the lens of Rudolf Steiner’s worldview, was a novelty to me. This workshop, that was attended by numerous students alongside architects, was characterized by a joyful and enriching atmosphere full of genuine curiosity and enthusiasm. The will of sharing, a thirst for knowledge, a curiosity that wants to be fulfilled, the desire of finding something meaningful were tangible energies that the meeting brought forth. The balance between generations is something pretty unusual within the niche of Anthroposophical Architecture. This unique environment led at the end of the meeting, after various contributions and practical exercises during the first days, to fundamental questions on the interplay between form and matter, the intrinsic meaning of sustainability and the essential importance of the experience of the architectural space. Future and new gatherings like this are essential to start building a diverse and robust network of young and adult architects who need constant coming together in order to explore new questions and solutions fitting the present time.

Nicolas Gemelli (Italy)

Design workshop with Pieter van der Ree – Photo by Neja Haebler

Also the two workshops, one in English and one in German, were an occasion of experiencing how different generations of architects address one and the same task, and of exchanging and comparing various approaches. In the final conversation several questions and themes arose and became object of discussion, for instance the relationship between art and architecture, the choice between strongly individualized design and flexibility, how to understand sustainability in the context of organic design, how to come to a real experience of the quality of space and architecture, to which extent the design of a space affects the social life within itself. It was encouraging for me to see how interested the young participants were in these issues. At the same time I had the impression that many of the aspects we touched are still unexplored for them and that it would be helpful to deepen them in future meetings. In general, I am very thankful for this occasion of getting to know more closely the new students of the Alanus University, who are certainly different from the ones I teach in Ukraine and Italy. I hope this was the beginning of an exchange which will continue in the next years.

A most enriching part of this workshop was to come in contact and exchange ideas with a generation of future architects, and at the same time to exchange and hear from experienced professionals. As I seat between these two poles, I reflect upon the themes brought about and I can say that it all comes down to culture, sense of place and natural environment when it comes to architectural intentions. Each culture, place and environment live with its own questions and its own particular answers that can only be dealt with from within-out. Perhaps if such kind of workshops could be done in different locations, the processes would enrich and diversify the outcomes, along with mixing the work teams not just by language but also a mix of age and gender etc.. The question of inspiration is of the outmost importance in an age where AI can give all the answers making the architects imagination handicap and forgotten, though I am convinced that algorithms will never replace the human capacity of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. The theme of inspiration still needs a whole lot of investigation, imagination, and application at a personal and community level within architecture, to start to comprehend it and thus allow a complete flow of the Will of the Spirit to be active in us as we and specially our creative thoughts become the future architecture.

Cecilia Ramirez Corzo (Mexico-Japan)

 




Guidelines for a ‘Living Architecture’

Living Architecture is not a style. It is an approach to architecture that views buildings not as mere objects, but rather as organs or organisms functioning within the highly diverse and interdependent fields of natural, social and cultural life. The goal of Living Architecture is to develop a built environment that supports and enhances the natural, social and cultural life and elevates this attitude into an artistic expression. The result should serve our needs in a holistic and sustainable way. To create a Living Architecture, the following aspects need to be taken into account, balanced and brought into a comprehensive synthesis:

Function and Human Needs

All buildings arise out of human needs and aspirations. These needs cover all aspects of human life. They range from physical protection, fulfillment of practical needs, providing social spaces and privacy all the way to offering a rich spatial atmosphere, expressing cultural content and supporting spiritual experiences.

24H – Environmental Education Centre – Koh Kood, Thailand, 2009 © Pieter van der Ree

In each building task different aspects have to be emphasized and care taken. Nevertheless, the entire scope of human needs should always be taken into account, including how buildings and public spaces affect the general public.

Good architecture primarily seeks to fulfill these needs and aspirations by serving and enhancing both our outer and inner lives.

The extent to which the client’s needs and aspirations can be realized depends upon the economic means available. In modern society money is one of the most important of these means. However, money should never become a goal in itself. Nor should architecture become a means to make financial profit at the expenses of those who will later be using the building.

Everyone who contributes to the realization of a building—as a developer, designer, contractor or workman—should be compensated fairly for his or her contribution. Not paying a fair wage is building at someone else’s expenses. At the same time, exceeding one’s fair fee or profit is letting others pay for work that is not done.

In the tension that often exists between wishes and means, the design challenge consists of accomplishing the maximum number of the client’s wishes and the future users’ needs within the limits of the available budget.

The Spirit of Place

Realizing a building requires a site. Each site has its own distinct character. This character is made up of natural components such as the morphology of the earth, the local climate and the plants and animals living on the plot. Added to this there mostly is a tapestry of social and cultural components including the surrounding buildings, the available infrastructure and the site’s history.

Good architecture consciously relates itself to this spirit of place. This does not mean it has to subordinate itself to the existing. It can also make a new contribution uplifting that which is already present, but this has to be done with respect.

Mickey Muennig – Post Range Inn – Big Sur, USA, 1992 © Pieter van der Ree

A contemporary design challenge is the revitalization of deteriorated landscapes and townscapes. This can be accomplished by introducing new biotopes and appropriate spaces for social life.

In most places, building regulations and statutes are established to balance the intentions of those who want to build with the protection of natural and historical values and the interests of those already living in the area.

Such regulations should be neither too strict nor too loose so as to enable social life to flourish and architecture to develop in a harmonious manner.

In relation to the spirit of place, the design challenge consists of creating a synthesis between the future buildings spatial needs, its envisioned identity and the character of the place with its prevailing statutory requirements.

Ramstad Architects – Trollstigen – Norway, 2012 © Pieter van der Ree

Building Materials and Construction

All buildings are made of materials that are originally derived from nature and that will, after being used, reused and recycled, eventually return to nature.

Good architecture tries to optimize the technical and aesthetic qualities of building materials and to minimize the harmful impact their production and use has on human health and the natural environment.

Regarding the use of materials and energy, a circular approach has to be developed that takes into account the entire lifecycle of a building and the impact it has on people and nature.

Awareness of the forces at work in construction and creating structures in accordance with those forces can lead to both highly efficient and expressive structures.

Geier & Geier – Solemar – Bad Dürrheim, Germany, 1987 © Pieter van der Ree

Technology plays a key role in optimizing the possibilities of materials and creating built structures from them. The rapid progress of technology permanently enables innovative construction methods and astonishing new forms.

However technology should never become a goal in itself, dominating the design for its own sake. Technology should always be used to support human wellbeing, good architectural quality and ecological sustainability. Life should not be mechanized, but technology brought in accordance with life processes, supporting and enhancing them.

The design challenge in dealing with materials and technology consists in bringing their potential into harmony with the human, aesthetic and technical requirements of the design, balancing them with their ecological impact.

Ideas, Values and Creativity

In the process of envisioning and designing a new building, countless ideas and intentions flow into the project. These originate in part from the client and in part from the designers, constructors, technical advisors and workmen involved in the project.

All these ideas are related to values and a worldview that—consciously or subconsciously—flow into the design. In historical styles, this was generally evident because of the mythological or religious worldview expressed in the forms. But also modernist and contemporary buildings inevitably express a vision and the values that underpin them.

When we use or see a building, we absorb these ideas and values in the form of sensory impressions.

Good architecture therefore consciously tries to bring inherent values and a worldview to an artistic expression. It does so by creating a spatial atmosphere that can support and inspire those who use and experience the building.

All these ideas and values get their visible form through the talents and creativity of the architect or the design-team. These inevitable will color the design and influence its character.

For the designers, this process is at once a form of self-expression and self-realization. Self-expression should however never dominate the needs of the future users, but be used to support them.

In regards to ideas and values the design challenge consists of creating a form that fulfills its functional, technical and aesthetic requirements and brings its content to a meaningful expression.

Gregory Burgess – Skylight in the Catholic Theological College – Melbourne, Australia, 1998 © Pieter van der Ree

The Design Process

The ultimate goal of the design process is to create a convincing and authentic form in which all of the aspects mentioned above are integrated. This cannot be done by just fulfilling separate requirements and dressing the result up in a fashionable or trendy form.

To create an authentic form, the design has to be developed from the inside out, that is to say out of the design-task itself and not be polluted by alien elements added on from outside.

In order to reach this goal, all separate and often contradictory requirements have to be analyzed and thought through. They have to sink into the sub-consciousness of the designers in order to let a new synthesis be born in which all elements are brought together in a new unity.

Creating a design is rather like being pregnant; not physically, but mentally. The design has to live in the consciousness and sub-consciousness of its designers, has to be fostered to grow and achieve a life of its own. Only if a design is brought to life, gets a character and identity of its own, can it enhance the lives of those who will use it, nourish their souls and uplift their spirits.

In the resulting form, the parts of the design should relate to the whole and to each other as in a living organism.

During design processes it often can be noticed that projects have a dynamic and will of their own, not being satisfied until all aspects of the design are integrated and its own character brought to full expression.

The client, architect and design-team should try to be aware of this ‘voiceless will’ at work and try to give it free rein. It can manifest itself in problems that occur during the process. It is important to view such problems as opportunities and seek ways the building can benefit from them. This attitude can help overcome difficulties.

Aspects influencing the design in architecture, Pieter van der Ree

 

Supporting Life-Processes

It is in the very nature of architecture to bring human needs and natural resources, social life and art, spirit and matter into a dialogue, merging them with one another and bringing them into a specific synthesis. The result of this open and permanently renewing process forms the world in which we live and by which we are formed.

WolkinsonEyre and Grant Associates – The Gardens by the Bay – Singapore, 2013 © Pieter van der Ree

Because of the impact architecture has on our outer and inner lives and on the natural world we all live in, architecture should be conceived in relation to the life-processes which it is part of; supporting and enhancing them.

To achieve this, inspiration can be taken from Nature by understanding how it creates its highly efficient, sustainable and beautiful forms. In Nature, outer appearance and inner being always form a unity. A similar unity should be aspired to in architecture and design. A quality of soul and a spiritual dimension must be added to make any design not just natural but also truly human.




Spaces for Children Development

At the moment, day-care centres are being built everywhere. When one sees the results, the question often arises: Who was this built for?
The day-care centre has the task of creating space for the healthy physical, social and mental development of the children. A space in which the educators accompany the pre-school children in their development to settle into the world and to be able to understand it.
So far, architecture has only gone beyond fulfilling functional requirements in a few areas. Only in Reggio and Waldorf education do we find design approaches that have developed out of pedagogy. The purpose of this paper is to present the relationship between the child and the architecture and its pedagogical effect. This is all the more important because in recent years the developmental environment of children has shifted from family education to crèche and all-day care.
First, I would like to delve a little deeper into the basics of pedagogy and human organisation in order to then understand the impact and requirements of architecture.

History

What we understand as a day care centre today encompasses the crèche from birth to 3 years of age and the kindergarten for children from 3 to 6 years of age. Historically, both facilities date back to the beginning of the 19th century. While the crèches developed from the infant’s and children’s homes for the poor and orphans, the kindergarten developed from an educational pedagogical approach. In the middle of the 19th century, Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel founded the first kindergarten in Germany. The aim was to support the family in raising children.
At the beginning of the 20th century, new impulses came from education reform. Rudolf Steiner, for example, expressed his views on child development and pedagogy in a wide variety of writings. Maria Montessori also influenced developments in education through her observations.
Under National Socialism and later also in the GDR, the educational mission was ideologically abused. In the post-war years, due to broken families and the necessity for women to work, the care of children was a major focus of kindergartens.

Pedagogy

The pedagogical concept was to educate the children for a life in society and to prepare them for school. It was not until the sixties and seventies that further developmental psychological viewpoints were integrated into the pedagogy. Only the impulses of the Reggio pedagogy from Italy should be mentioned here. For the crèche sector, the paediatrician Emilia Pickler gave essential impulses through her observations of children in care. As a result of the new pedagogical evaluation, the kindergarten was declared the first stage of the education system in 1970. The approaches to nursery education today are essentially based on the pedagogical and psychological observation of child development. The perception of children’s needs is thus the basis for a wide variety of educational concepts in the crèche sector. In “Das Kinder-und Jugendhilfegesetz” (KJHG 2007) §1 it says, “every young person has a right to the promotion of his or her development and education and to become an independent and socially competent personality”. This is now a social consensus.

The human being is in many ways a premature birth and therefore not determined and so open in his development! In order for children to develop, they need protection, security and warmth in their environment, in continuation of the mother’s womb. Helpful here is Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical view of the human being, which from a spiritual-scientific point of view can add further aspects to the developmental process of the human being. Thus, we can also understand the whole process of development as a process of incarnation. The child as a spiritual being works its way into its body.
Rudolf Steiner explains in his lecture “Pedagogy and Morality” 3/1923 (Anthroposophical Study of Man and Pedagogy) that the first three years of life are more important than all the following phases of development. He points out the importance of learning to walk, learning to speak and learning to think and how the child organises itself into the world. By settling into the world, according to Steiner, the inner organs are formed as the basis for being human. Then, until the change of teeth, the child lives completely devoted to its environment. As an imitative being, it makes the outside world a part of itself. Steiner is quoted here once again: “It wants to imitate what the adult does. What matters in kindergarten is that the child must imitate life”. (In “The Pedagogical Practice from the Point of View of the Spiritual Scientific Knowledge of Man”. Lecture “Play and Work”, 18.4.1923)

The scientific observations of brain research in recent years confirm this insight. The importance of early childhood experience for development in later life has been systematically elaborated in our time. All organs and senses are formed by the environment. The human brain also receives its internal characteristics and interconnections during this time. This is confirmed today by development and brain research, for example by Gerald Hüther.

In the phase of life from one to seven years of age, i.e. in the elementary area, we can observe two essential developmental steps. In the first three years, the child takes hold of its body. It develops from a helpless being lying on its back to an independent human child moving in space. In the phase of life from three to six years, the child begins to understand, experience and conquer the world. This development does not take place in a linear fashion, but in cycles of development, in metamorphoses, which continue in a transformed form after reaching a certain stage of development.

In the first stage of human life, between birth and the age of three, the small child acquires motor control over the limbs. Once it has reached this stage, it will try to move about, crawl, sit up and stand with tireless activity and get into an upright walk. This acquisition of the basic human posture is a constant struggle against gravity. Through this activity, right into the physical, the organs are reshaped and adapted to the upright gait. The child has thereby gained the freedom to act creatively with his hands. This is the basis for the exercise of all human abilities, the learning of language and, building on this, the ability of thinking.

In order to awaken this impulse in the child, the adult human being is the role model who, in his or her I-ness, makes this overcoming of gravity an experience. Without people in its environment to give the impulse, it will not make this effort. Standing on the earth strengthens the basic trust. The earth carries me. Development always continues on in its own initiative, there is no standstill. Once the balance has been conquered, the first steps are already taken. As soon as the world can be grasped, the first concepts are formed, which are the basis for thinking. Thus, grasping in the truest sense of the word is of fundamental importance. The child develops its own language to deal with the environment. In this way, it places itself in the culture into which it is born.

In the second stage of development, i.e. from the age of three until the change of teeth or the beginning of school, when the child can experience itself as a self, it is ready for “kindergarten”. Children open up to the world, they need the adult as a role model in order to develop further by imitating him or her. This develops their senses and abilities to face the world. Through language and its rhythmic musical quality, the child also experiences the differentiated mental expressions of the adult. For this self-development, the child needs role models, but also time and space and stimulation from the environment. With the change of teeth, this process of organ formation comes to a certain conclusion.

The Relationship Between Human Beings and Space

The process described above is made possible by the people in the environment, by parents, teachers and also by the architecture. The rooms not only form the third skin of the human being, but also have an effect on the child.
This exciting interaction between self-activity and impulses from the environment has led to the room now being recognised as a third educator. In 2008, the competition for the “Invest in Future” prize for innovative pedagogy focused on space as the third educator. The architecture must be designed in accordance with this task.

Particularly in our day and age, when children’s basic opportunities for experience are severely limited by our culture, architecture has an important role to play in supporting pedagogy. It must compensate for the natural living environment.
Despite many debates about pedagogical concepts and effects on child development, the spatial conditions are often not discussed. However, the needs of the children should be the basis for the qualitative requirements of the rooms.

How does architecture affect children in different areas?
The bridge here is our sense organs with which we perceive the physical world and connect with the world.

The following diagram is intended to clarify the relationship. It is based on Rudolf Steiner’s depictions, who divides the human body into three areas, head, chest and limbs. With the limbs, the human being places itself in the world, connects with it. In the chest area – the rhythmic system with heart and lungs – the soul’s own life develops; a first freedom is attained. The development of concepts and ideas is related to the head. Here we again recognise the three-step process already described above.

We can assign sense organs to these three areas. For this we can refer to the sensory theory of Rudolf Steiner’s theory of the senses in “Allgemeine Menschenkunde als Grundlage der Pädagogik”, in which he develops twelve senses and relates them to the body. Willi Aeppli has worked out these relationships in detail in his book “Sinnesorganismus, Sinnesverlust, Sinnespflege”. It is shown that the child at this age is completely SENSUAL with its organism. It should be noted that sense perception is not one-dimensional, at least two other senses resonate. By understanding the relationship of perception to our bodies, we can then draw conclusions about architectural qualities.

It is the physically volitional and basal senses, the sense of touch, the sense of life or vitality, the sense of balance and the sense of movement, that develop first in the first three years and lay the foundation for further development. The equivalents in architecture for these areas are surface, material quality, building biology, construction, statics and movement dynamics. It is the surfaces with which the little human being first comes into direct contact in order to understand the world. The material qualities must be honest and authentic, otherwise the senses are corrupted. How can the material quality of wood emerge on a beech wood plastic imitation? The surface is always equally smooth and repellent, the sound dull. How beautiful can a piece of beech wood be, with its oiled surface and its sound revealing its inner structure. We must also consider the health aspects, just think of the plasticisers in plastics or toxic paints. If we take the guidelines from pedagogy seriously, we cannot use such products.

The construction in its load-bearing and static function should be honest and comprehensible. The vertical must be emphasised to enable the child to perceive its own uprightness. The spatial directions of front and back, right and left, up and down must be clearly shown in order to provide support and orientation for the first movements. The scale of the architecture and its proportions should be based on the laws of the adult human being. In this way children develop basic trust in their environment. A firm standpoint is a prerequisite for the development of the sense of balance in the first phase. Only in this way can spatial orientation succeed. The floor plan should therefore be clear and preferably symmetrically oriented. Of course, emotion-oriented senses also develop during this time. Good acoustics, for example, is a prerequisite for understanding each other and learning language.
Some well-intentioned attempts to design architecture suitable for children, such as a day care centre as a sinking ship – day care centre in Stuttgart Sonnenberg by Benisch, or a childlike “dwarf architecture”, are detrimental to development. They disturb sensory development with unexpected consequences.

Why are the demands so high today? Didn’t children develop well in the past? Today, the day-care centre has to compensate for the lack of a natural environment in our society and civilisation. A spiritually fulfilling artistic design that is meaningful and comprehensible is necessary for this. The living space seized by the educators becomes a model and impulses one’s own creative powers.

Room Concept for the Crèche Children

The room should offer security, support and orientation, provide stimulation and impulses and have the character of a call to action. From the pedagogy, three zones result for the toddler area, which are to be designed differently, the active area, the care area and the rest/sleep area, divided into at least two rooms.

The movement area with stairs and ramps has a special attraction for children of this age.
The architecture must become a mirror of experience of the child’s own body in order to develop the senses properly and to calibrate them for life. For the crawling children, this space should be limited once again so that they do not get lost. Facilities according to Emilie Pickler offer further impulses to be active.

The care area as a protected zone, with nappy changing, should be well planned. This is the area where the child alone receives the attention of the educator. Everything should be placed in such a way that there are no distractions during routine activities. Does the educator have to lift the children on the changing table? With ten children, this is already a considerable burden. So, it is good if the older ones can already climb onto the changing table on their own with a small step. The child should be able to be changed lying down or standing up. The washbasin should be close by. The change of clothes and nappies are in the school baths under the changing table for each child, i.e. within reach. Warming lamp above the changing area for the little ones. If everything is well organised, the educator can concentrate fully on the contact with the child.

Photo Nappy-changing area closed and open

The sleeping and resting area should be muffled by fabrics and an acoustically effective ceiling and darkened by curtains or blinds. Each child has his or her own individual, protected sleeping space to be able to come to rest. This is very important for today’s children and can be achieved by designing children’s beds, sleeping bunks or platforms.

Room Concept for the Over-Threes

Mental self-life develops in role play, e.g. building, painting, handicrafts, preparing meals, eating together or listening in a story circle. The room forms a free-flowing envelope that demands self-activity. It should be divided into zones for the different activities. With today’s group sizes of more than 20 children, it is important that the individual groups do not disturb each other. The children must be able to immerse themselves completely in their own experience of their own spiritual development through imagination. These room divisions have a stronger effect if they are supported by designs on the floor plan and by different ceiling heights. It should be possible to adjust the brightness in the room in relation to the activities. For example, a completely different lighting atmosphere is required for the storytelling circle than for the area where the handicrafts workbench would be located.

How can architecture support the development of the child and the work of the educators? Here are a few comments on the elements of the room.

The floor must provide secure support so that the children can stand up. Then material and colour must be chosen. The most suitable material is cork flooring dyed with reddish oil. It is slightly elastic, warmer in surface temperature and easy to clean. Unfortunately, it is not as hard-wearing material and should be used with slippers or soft shoes. Linoleum flooring is an alternative for more demanding areas. The reddish brown or even green colour offers children a safe ground for development.

The walls are solid and immovable, supporting the ceiling and roof. They form the protective space for development. A fine plaster structure shows the materiality on the surface. However, it must not be too sharp grained. By forming rounded window reveals and wall edges, we have increased the perceptible solidity of the wall. The wall is the main carrier of colour and room colour mood. Through a wall glaze, we thus create a protective space that is open to the child’s development and conveys a sense of security. With a skirting board that matches the wall colour, the wall stands well and firmly.

The ceiling closes off the room at the top; it should protect but not oppress. A horizontal, straight ceiling often has an oppressive or sagging effect, especially if it is too low. This can be counteracted by making ceilings vaulted or even more sculptural. This creates a feeling of inner freedom and uprightness. However, it is important that the ceiling rests on the wall and is supported by it. If the glaze of the wall is also carried over the ceiling, this forms a good colour envelope for all activities. The ceiling is usually also the support for the acoustic measures.

The windows should not be too large and should have vertical formats or be vertically structured, then the uprightness can be experienced on them. The window parapet, preferably at different heights, closes the room and creates an intimate envelope. Without a balustrade, the room flows outwards. It is nice to have lighting on several sides, this increases the plasticity and sensuality. Bars in the windows let you experience the course of the sun through the movement of the shadows in the room. The different sill heights create protected zones on the floor as well as in front of the window. Low window sills invite you to play or sit on them, to observe what is happening outside, perhaps to dream after the raindrops. High window sashes, on the other hand, can only be operated by educators for necessary ventilation and creates security and allows the decorations to remain on the window sill. Movable coloured blinds and curtains can be used to control the lighting mood, intensity and colourfulness in the room, depending on the activity.

Light has a relationship to consciousness; it can be sunlight and artificial lighting. The way we deal with light has an important role to play in the mood of the room. In the light we wake up, we are out of ourselves with our senses. In order for the children to be able to develop in a protected way while dreaming, the light in the crèche area should be subdued, not too bright. The children should be able to concentrate on their physical development without too many distractions from the environment. After all, this is still about the body’s own perception.
For older children, the light should be adapted to their activities. This creates a tension between subdued, warm light for dreaming and listening to stories and cooler, more shadowy light for working.
Natural lighting is to be preferred. Artificial lighting should fully support and complement the quality. It is good if the lighting can be dimmed, even better if it can also change its light colour. As a substitute for incandescent light, we can use a combination of halogen and LED luminaires and thus control the light colour quality and intensity.

Colour

In any case, a colour concept should be developed for a day-care centre, which, like the architecture, is based on the needs. The colour concept enlivens and enhances the experience of the architecture. Here, colour has nothing to do with taste. Colour appeals to people in the emotional area and gives the rooms a quality of sensation. The choice of colour for the day-care centre results from the basic theme of the envelope and the use in this extended sense. For the group rooms, a free-form, envelope-creating basic colour scheme between pink and salmon colours should be chosen, which integrates walls and ceilings. In the corridors and cloakrooms, the colour scheme can give impulses through colour changes. After all, there is life and movement here.
A differentiated colour design is possible through the glazing technique. The colours are applied in several transparent layers of different colourfulness. In this way, a strong colourfulness can be created that is not oppressive. The wall surfaces appear lively and are strongly influenced by changing light moods. A variety of constantly new, invigorating sensory impressions are created. The changing incidence of light during the course of the day enlivens the colour effect of the glazing technique. The narrowness and expanse of activity and retreat areas are supported and intensified by the colour scheme, thus making the functional areas perceptible on all levels of perception.

The acoustics in the day-care centres have been neglected for years. The noise level with 24 children is actually only bearable with hearing protection. This became noticeable when the hearing loss of the kindergarten teachers increased. Especially for language learning, good intelligibility in the room is a prerequisite. But also, so that the children can pursue their various activities without disturbance and distraction. The easiest way to control the room acoustics is through an effective acoustic ceiling.

The Educator’s Workplace

We must not forget that the kindergarten is also the educator’s workplace. In addition to legal regulations and ordinances, their needs must also be taken into account. The workflow in and in front of the group room should be well organised so that there is no stress when working with the children. It should be designed in such a way that, if possible, there is no “no” for the children, there must be a “yes” for everything. The architecture should convey a positive mood. We have seen above how important the role model function of the educators is for development. Only happy, balanced educators can be positive role models! The architecture creates the shell for the social life of children and educators in which the art of education is lived.

Much of what has been touched on here can also be applied to the design of the outdoor areas. However, this is not the subject of this design.

Living Organic Design

Protection, security and space for development are therefore our starting points for design. Now we have listed many criteria for a day care centre design. The architect’s art is now to bring all these requirements with the realities on site, budget, building site, legal requirements etc. into a shape, a shape that does justice to the task of the day care centre. This must be done by an artistic impulse of the architect. In addition to fulfilling the listed criteria for enlivening sensory perception, something artistic, spiritual must also resonate through the design. Thus, as in the development of children, the above-mentioned points of view must change in a metamorphosis, just as in child development the forces and design impulses are constantly in metamorphosis and cause the life forces to vibrate. Through flowing forms in the floor plan, the life forces become an impulse on the movements through and in the building.
The development of the vertical and the animation through curves are important formal approaches to architectural design. Thus, vertical elements are to be emphasised in architecture, in façade articulation, entrance elements, window format, but also in furniture and fixtures. Through double-curved designs of ceilings and roofs, ethereal, living forms, which we also see in nature, come to life and transform and enliven architecture consisting of solid material. Through such a roof design, for example, protecting, which serves as an approach to pedagogy, can also become visible in the architecture. In this way, the child experiences the bodily formative forces at work in the architecture. The living organic design impulse can make a significant contribution to mastering this task, a spirit-filled design.

Today, it should be a matter of course that the choice of building materials, also with regards to future generations, should largely correspond to ecological, biological and sustainable aspects. However, these aspects must not be formative, but must serve the form that develops from the task.

Search for the Future Being

This article is intended to provide suggestions for individual design approaches. The framework conditions and requirements of the building tasks are far too different to be summarised in design rules or recipes. However, an awareness of the children’s needs and developmental aspects is a prerequisite for the success of the building task.
With this in mind, educators, parents, architects and all those involved must work together to move the building task forward and develop the individual criteria. Through this joint effort, forces will develop that will make it possible to experience the essence of the future as a spiritual impulse. In the creative process of the design, this essence can then show itself as an individual form. The children need openness so that they can develop the forces for their future. In order to do justice to this task, we must also design the architecture from these future forces.

This article was published in “M+A”, 85-86, 2016

All pictures by Martin Riker




New developments in the field of building materials

New developments in the field of building materials – production – design

Architecture conference at the Goetheanum October 13-15, 2023




Menschheitsprojekt Beton

Erweiterungsbau eines Kirchzentrums bei Zürich: kurz vor dem Guss einer Bodenplatte (Foto: Pneumatit AG)

 

Guss einer Bodenplatte für den allerersten Bau mit Pneumatit 2006-07: einen Laufstall in Rheinau. (Foto: Gut Rheinau AG)

Der Unverzichtbare

Beton erlaubt ein sehr schnelles Bauen. Seine Rohmaterialien sind praktisch überall vorhanden. Er ist leistungsstark und beliebig formbar. Dank seiner Härtung auch unter Wasser (Hydraulik) und versehen mit den entsprechenden chemischen Zusatzstoffen, kann Beton fast universal verwendet werden. Seine hohe physikalische und chemische Berechenbarkeit ließ eine weitgehende Rationalisierung der Bauabläufe zu. Beton, der überall maßkonfektioniert zu habende »Stein der Weisen« der Bauindustrie,1 der preisgünstige, geniale Alleskönner, ist in kurzer Zeit zum unangefochtenen Baustoff-Favoriten geworden. Tatsächlich ist Beton das weltweit zweitmeist verwendete Gut, nach Wasser!2 Aktuell werden weltweit pro Jahr ungefähr 14 Milliarden Kubikmeter ausgebracht. Eine so grosse Menge Beton kann man sich kaum vorstellen. Versuchen wir es trotzdem! Nehmen wir an, wir bauen mit dem gesamten Beton von 2022 einen einzigen quadratischen, massiven, toten Turm, ohne Räume, mit einer Grundfläche von fast 500 m Seitenlänge. Das entspricht einer Fläche von 250 ha oder 250 Fussballfeldern. Dieser Turm würde dann 56 km hoch und bis über die Grenze der Biosphäre hinaus in eine Sphäre reichen, wo es keinerlei Leben mehr gibt, nicht einmal mehr Mikroorganismen. Dort oben würde ab und zu ein leichter Satellit an uns vorbeifliegen, während die nächsten Flugzeuge als kleine Punkte weit unten flögen, auf maximal 15 km Höhe.

Einen solchen Turm könnten wir jedes Jahr bauen. Allerdings ist der Betonverbrauch in den letzten 20 Jahren um durchschnittlich 4,2 % pro Jahr gestiegen. Wenn das so weitergeht, dann wird sich schon im Jahr 2040 der globale Verbrauch auf 28 Mrd. m3 und der Jahresturm auf 112 km Höhe verdoppelt haben.

Unsere Recherchen und Rechnungen zeigen, dass seit etwa 175 Jahren total rund 403 Mrd. m3 (= 987 Mrd. t) Industriebeton auf der Erde verbaut worden ist. Mit diesen 403 Mrd. m3 könnte man die gesamte Landmasse der Erde mit einer 2,7 mm dicken grauen Betonschicht zudecken, und hält der erwähnte Jahreszuwachs von 4,7% an, so wird diese Schicht schon bis 2041 verdoppelt haben.

All dieser Beton liegt heute irgendwo herum. Beton ist die erste vom Menschen erzeugte geologische Schicht, ein Sediment, das anhand seines Rostbrauns später einmal mühelos identifizierbar sein dürfte.

Ein stiller, aber gewaltiger Betonprozess zieht in die Lebenssphäre von Mensch und Erde ein. Er erinnert an die Vergletscherung während der Eiszeit, vollzieht sich aber blitzartig. Der moderne Mensch verbringt durchschnittlich schon über 90 Prozent seiner Lebenszeit in Innenräumen, von denen die meisten von Beton oder Zementmörtel definiert werden. Beton hat sich überall eng an uns gelegt. Ein Ende des Vorganges ist nicht abzusehen. Die Zeit scheint da, um nachzufragen: Was bewirkt Beton eigentlich? Welche neuen Einflüsse ziehen mit dem Beton in unser Lebensgefüge ein, was sind die Folgen für Wohlbefinden, Gesundheit und Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten von Mensch und Natur?

Begegnung

Die Substanz spricht leise. Es ist nicht selbstverständlich, dass man nach ihren Eigenwirkungen fragt. Doch wo dies geschieht, werden oft erstaunlich präzise und stark übereinstimmende Eindrücke geschildert, meist in Form von Bildern und tastenden Umschreibungen. Die folgende Charakterisierung fasst Äußerungen aus den Jahren 2008 bis 2022 zu Beton zusammen, von ganz unterschiedlichen Personen und bezogen auf verschiedene Räume und Böden. »Innere Wärme, vor allem in Füßen und Unterschenkeln. Gefühl federnder Weichheit und Leichtigkeit beim Gehen. Ruhig und wohlig, entspannend, harmonisierend, belebend, frei, offen, durchlässig, atmungsaktiv, ein gutes Klima, ein guter Ort zum Wohnen. Wischt Müdigkeit weg, als sei man bei einem Heiler oder auf einem kleinen Urlaub gewesen.

Man fühlt sich leicht, beschwingt, als ginge man über eine grüne Sommerwiese oder über Waldboden. Obwohl der Raum dunkel und eng war, erschien er behaglich, friedlich, groß. Das kann dazu führen, dass man seine Arbeit lieber macht, sich mehr auf das Wesentliche konzentrieren kann. Glücks- und Dankbarkeitsgefühle. Knie- und Fußgelenke, die sonst schmerzten, sind auf diesen Betonböden geheilt. Gefühl, ganz hier zu sein. Noch im ersten Stock erlebt man Durchlässigkeit bis zur Erde hinunter.«

Finden Sie Ihr eigenes Beton-Erleben in dieser Charakterisierung wieder? Nein? – Sie haben Recht: Denn alle Aussagen galten zwar Beton, aber einem modifizierten, veredelten, weiterentwickelten, auf den wir noch zu sprechen kommen.

How do we sleep while our beds are burning? Midnight Oil, Beds are Burning, 1987

Die Betonfrage

Die Gut Rheinau GmbH, der größte biologisch-dynamisch geführte Landwirtschaftsbetrieb der Schweiz, bildet mit anderen Betrieben, das unter dem Dach der Stiftung Fintan arbeitende ökologisch-soziale »Projekt Fintan« bei Schaffhausen. Nach einem Stallbrand 2002 nahm man die Planung eines neuen Laufstalls an die Hand. Parallel dazu hatte der Verfasser die Initiative »widar forschung« entwickelt, aus einem Bedürfnis heraus, das sich gedanklich so fassen lässt: Der Umgang mit dem Bereich des Lebendigen ist für die Menschheit zu einer Überlebensfrage geworden. Die nur physische Sicht der Wirklichkeit dominiert historisch erst seit kurzer Zeit. Sie hat sich dabei bereits selbst widerlegt: durch ihre Wirkungen, die sich im vielseitig alarmierenden Zustand unserer Welt zeigen. Langfristig taugliches Denken und Handeln muss deshalb die nicht-physischen Dimensionen und Gesetzmäßigkeiten wieder einbeziehen. Sie sind für jedes Phänomen relevant. Ihr Einbezug, neu auf wissenschaftliche Art, beginnt heute, hundert Jahre nach dem entsprechenden Pionierwerk Rudolf Steiners, möglich zu werden, weil die dafür notwendigen Fähigkeiten zur direkten Wahrnehmung überphysischer Tatsachen sich mehren.

Mit verschiedenen Forschern und an unterschiedlichen Aufgabenstellungen wurde von widar forschung Grundlagenarbeit geleistet und dabei Vertrauen gewonnen. So vergab das Gut Rheinau schon frühzeitig einen Auftrag zur Bauplatzvorbereitung auf überphysischer Ebene an widar mit dem Forscher José Martinez. Die Ausführung gestaltete sich auch sozial intensiv und positiv.

Exkurs 1: »Physisch«, »überphysisch«, »unterphysisch«    

Alle Phänomene in unserer physischen Welt haben auch nicht-physische Dimensionen. Diese drücken sich im Physischen aus und bestimmen es wesentlich. Nach entsprechender Schulung können auch die nicht-physischen Dimensionen bewusst wahrgenommen und erforscht werden.

Für das Verständnis der hier vorgestellten Ergebnisse solcher Forschungen braucht es eine wenigstens pauschale Kenntnis zweier überphysischer Kräftebereiche:

  • Lebenskräfte oder »ätherische« Kräfte: organisch aufbauend
  • Formkräfte oder »astralische« Kräfte: organisch abbauend.

Einerseits stehen ätherische und astralische Kräfte einander also polar gegenüber. Doch eine gesetzmäßige Polarität zeigt auch das Lebendige (Ätherische) selbst in seinen Myriaden von Erscheinungen: als Atmung zwischen den Polen Kontraktion (Schwerkraft- und Dunkelheit-orientierter Impuls zur Festigung, Härtung, Verdichtung) und

Expansion (Leichte- und Licht-orientierter Impuls zur Auflösung, Verflüssigung, Öffnung). Und auch die astralischen Kräfte zeigen Polaritäten. Andererseits stehen astralische Kräfte »höher« als die ätherischen, weil sie diese überformen, begrenzen, lenken.

In der Auseinandersetzung und Durchdringung von astralischen und ätherischen Kräften entsteht auf astralischer Ebene Bewusstsein, auf ätherischer Ebene Wachstum, Fortpflanzung, Metamorphose. Der prinzipielle Unterschied zwischen Tier und Pflanze ist, dass das Tier astralische Kräfte individualisiert in sich trägt (als »Astralleib«), die Pflanze nicht (sie hat nur physischen und »Ätherleib«). Den Menschen macht aus, dass er Geist in sich trägt – sein Ich.

Neben den überphysischen gibt es auch unterphysische Kräftewelten, etwa Elektrizität, Magnetismus, Radioaktivität. »Unterphysisch« (oder »unternatürlich», »untersinnlich«) werden sie genannt, weil sie im Inneren der physischen Natur verborgen blieben, bis der Mensch mit neuen technischen Mitteln deren Rahmen und Boden »aufzubrechen« begann. Nur auf physischer Ebene sind die einzelnen Phänomene (Gegenstände, Organismen, Räume) klar voneinander abgegrenzt. In allen nicht-physischen Dimensionen durchdringen und durchwirken die Phänomene einander gegenseitig.

2006 kam von Patrik Forster, Zimmermann, Landwirt und Bauverantwortlicher von Gut Rheinau, eine neue Frage, die Weichen stellte. Ihm war nicht wohl beim Gedanken, dass die Kühe einen Großteil ihres Lebens auf Betonflächen verbringen sollten, die ja zudem auch Arbeitsplatz für Menschen würden. Ob man Beton nicht gesünder machen, baubiologisch aufwerten könne?

Diese Frage kam in einer Alltagssituation auf, die doch zugleich von fast archetypischer Qualität war:

  • Am Beton für den Stallbau führte nichts vorbei: die Macht des Physisch-Faktischen und der Ökonomie hatte längst vorentschieden.
  • Auch der Baupraktiker trug dabei aber ein starkes Unbehagen.
  • Doch warum eigentlich? Die Antwort blieb beim (»unguten«) Gefühl. Man verstand einander trotzdem.
  • Die Frage des Bauern galt einem neuen Weg, der finanziell aufwendiger würde. Sein Motiv war die Liebe und die Verantwortung für das ihm anvertraute Leben.

Man muss es deutlich sagen: Vier Jahrzehnte Betonkritik und Baubiologie haben keine stichhaltigen Argumente gegen den Beton erbracht, denen nicht durch gesteigerte bautechnische und / oder ästhetische Sorgfalt begegnet werden könnte. Unwohlsein und tiefsitzende Antipathie gegenüber dem Beton haben keinen Erkenntnisboden und werden allein durch das Gewicht der Tatsachen permanent überwältigt, ja absurd gemacht. Trotzdem blieb ein suggestives Symbol von negativer Kraft, klarer Aussage und erstaunlicher Resistenz gegenüber den PR-Aufwendung der Industrie.3 Ausdrücke wie »Betonköpfe«, »Betonwüste«, »Betonfraktion« sind in die Umgangssprache übergegangen. In Fachpublikationen wird die Schuld am schlechten Image des Betons in »Bausünden« von Architekten und Städteplanern gefunden (»Es kommt drauf an, was man draus macht«). Psychologen sehen in der verbreiteten Aversion gegenüber Beton eine Hypochondrie mit bis zu paranoider Färbung, »eine Art Selbsthass« des modernen Menschen, »einen unbewussten Hass auf das eigene Leben«. Trotzdem: Das Material, das unsere Lebenssphäre durchsetzt und auskleidet wie kein anderes, gilt ungeachtet aller funktionalen Vorteile als tot und abtötend, kalt, vereinsamend, kränkend, zermürbend, unmenschlich. Viele Menschen berichten von seelischen und organischen Beeinträchtigungen in Betonräumen. Während sich der Baufachmann gegen »Risse im Beton« empfiehlt, steht der gleiche Ausdruck für das Aufkeimen von Leben und Hoffnung. Diese Situation ist für niemanden gesund.

Nach einem Referat meldete sich ein erfolgreicher Bauunternehmer. Er verdiene zwar fast sein ganzes Geld mit Beton, trotzdem habe er jedes Mal, wenn er Wohnungen errichte – und besonders bei der Vorstellung, dass eine Familie mit Kindern darin leben werde –, »irgendwie ein schlechtes Gewissen«.

 

Wo nichts mehr geht, fängt alles an. Graffiti auf der Berliner Mauer, dem wohl berühmtesten Betonbau

Auftrag

Die zunächst schwierig zu begründende Frage seitens Gut Rheinau, ob man Beton vielleicht gesünder machen könnte, löste Arbeiten aus, die den Rahmen eines Auftrags überschritten und nach und nach in eine eigene Betriebsentwicklung übergingen. Auf einer ersten Arbeitsachse wurde mitten auf dem Stallgelände von Gut Rheinau eine experimentelle Betongießerei aufgezogen. Im kleinen Team verbanden sich hier kreativ Handwerk, Beobachtungen auf physischer und überphysischer Ebene und deren systematische Protokollierung. Um die Beiträge der Komponenten Zement, Zuschlagstoffe, Wasser und Bewehrung zu klären, wurden deren überphysische Natur und Wirkung in ihrem schrittweisen Zusammenfinden während des Misch-, Guss- und Härtungsvorgangs untersucht. Mengenverhältnisse, Gusskörpervolumen, Bewehrungsart wurden vielfach variiert, Homöopathika, Eurythmiegebärden4 und musikalische Klänge eingebracht. Zur Frage stand zunächst Beton in seiner Eigen-»Natur«, dann aber seine Wirkung auf den Menschen. Unverzichtbar für die Unternehmung waren die profunden medizinischen Kenntnisse von Martinez und seine erstaunliche Fähigkeit, aktuelle physiologische Vorgänge überphysisch detailliert zu verfolgen. Einbezogen wurde auch ein auf dem Markt bereits erhältlicher Zusatzstoff ähnlicher Zielsetzung. Schon hinsichtlich Preis und Praktikabilität konnte es aber nicht überzeugen. Vor allem aber zeigten sich zwanghafte und zersetzende Wirkungen auf die höheren seelisch-geistigen Funktionen des Menschen, weshalb man die anfängliche Erwägung, es für den neuen Stall zu übernehmen, bald aufgab.

Auf einer zweiten Arbeitsachse wurden material- und technikgeschichtliche Studien betrieben. Daraus ergaben sich Hypothesen, die wiederum Martinez zur Untersuchung vorgelegt wurden: in gegenständlicher Form wie originale Puzzolanerde aus Pozzuoli sowie Drehofenklinker oder bei Besuchen im Steinbruch und im Zementwerk. Auch antike Bauwerke mit römischem Beton hat Martinez untersucht. Als höchst relevant erwiesen sich auch die neueren archäologischen Erkenntnisse aus Südostanatolien. Sie führten in verblüffender Konkretheit auf eine dritte Arbeitsachse über, den Einbezug zentraler geistesgeschichtlicher Ausführungen Rudolf Steiners. In deren Licht zeigte sich der innere geistige Duktus der Betongeschichte – und darin des eigenen Tuns.

Diagnose (I): Leben im Betonraum

Reiner, trockener Zement trägt enorme astralische Verdichtungs- und Formkräfte in sich (Zu den Begriffen siehe Kasten »Physisch« – »Überphysisch« – »Unterphysisch«). Diese lähmen das ätherische Leben und die Möglichkeit des Wandels. Ätherisch trägt der Zement, zunächst nur als Potentialität, die Form des festen Elements in sich: den Würfel. Doch da der Zement ohne Sauerstoff – Element des Ätherischen – ist, kann er die Würfelgestalt aus sich heraus nicht wachsen lassen.

Die Zementkräfte verbinden sich im Mischprozess von Beton oder Mörtel mit den ätherischen Kontraktions- und Sedimentationskräften der Zuschlagstoffe (Sand, Kies), also zuungunsten des Gegenpols, der Expansions- und Fließkräfte. Ergebnis sind Kräftebildungen fast ausschließlich astralisch-fixierender Art. Nach nur etwa 90 Sekunden des Mischens findet kaum mehr »lebendiges Werden« statt. Durch den Sauerstoff des Wassers kann nun ätherisch eine Würfelgestalt manifest werden, die sich auf der Suche nach Festigkeit so lange verformt, wie der Mischprozess anhält. Der Impuls zum ätherisch-rhythmischen Atem zwischen Kontraktion und Expansion bleibt wie eingesperrt in einem Höchstmaß an Spannung.

Beim Gießen verbindet sich die ätherische Natur des Frischbetons sofort mit derjenigen der Bewehrung. Produktionsart und Produktform des Bewehrungseisens haben aber auch dessen ätherischen Prozess auf die Kontraktion verengt. Schon beim Gießen erscheint das Element der Expansion völlig hinausgebannt, ein Atem findet nicht statt. Nach dem Guss kommt die ätherische Würfelgestalt des Frischbetons sogleich zu einer Verhärtung von kristalliner Qualität. Das Zusammenwirken von Eisen- und Zementprozessen, und damit die fast absolute Dominanz von Kontraktion und Sedimentation, prägt der Masse unmittelbar die Qualität des Alters ein.

Was geschieht in betonierten Räumen? Der Bereich der Lebenskräfte innerhalb eines neutralen physischen Raums lässt sich überphysisch wahrnehmen als Meer von strahlenden, strömenden, hüllenden, befeuernden oder in anderer Art aktiv sich mitteilenden Prozessen – überall eigen, unterschiedlich. Im Normalfall füllt der Lebens-, Ätherraum den physischen Raum, ja ragt sogar etwas über ihn hinaus.

Anders in einem betonierten Raum. Durch die beschriebene astralische Kontraktions-, Verdichtungsgewalt des Betons erfährt in seinem Einflussbereich auch der ätherische Raum einen Zusammenzug bis auf rund ein Drittel des physischen Raumes. Seine lebendig strahlende, fließende Eigennatur kann er nur wenig bewahren. Er weist jetzt selbst ein Defizit auf. Die individuellen (menschlichen, tierischen, pflanzlichen) Ätherleiber sind in ihr ätherisches Umfeld fließend-dynamisch eingebettet. Der durch die Betonwirkung beeinflusste ätherische Raum aber weist einen starken »Unterdruck« an Lebenskraft auf: Von den Ätherleibern der Wesen, die sich in einem betonierten Raum aufhalten, fließen Lebenskräfte in den Beton ab, wie in ein Fass ohne Boden. Beton (und auch Zementmörtel) hat durch sein Überhandnehmen der astralischen Kräfte eine reduzierende Wirkung auf den Ätherleib (Lebenskräfte). Zugleich werden die astralische wie die ätherische Physiologie verzerrt.

Aus diesen Erkenntnissen erklären sich Phänomene ganz unterschiedlicher Dimension:

  • Die emotionale Ablehnung von Beton gründet in tatsächlichen Wahrnehmungen. Diese sind nicht nur physischer Art (architektonisch-visuelle »Bausünden«, Betongrau), sondern auch subtilerer ätherischer Natur. Betonattribute wie »Wüste«, »Kälte«, »Leere« drücken den ätherischen Tatbestand recht präzis aus.
  • Organisch-psychische Beeinträchtigungen in Betonräumen können verstanden werden. Diffuses Unwohlsein, Dünnhäutigkeit, Nervosität, Empfindung innerer Kälte und Dunkelheit, depressive Verstimmung, Gelenkbeschwerden, Kopfschmerz und rasche Erschöpfung sind (Astralisierungs-) Symptome, die bei der Schwächung der Lebenskräfte (Ätherleib) auftreten können, selbstverständlich je nach individueller Konstitution. Entsprechende sozialmedizinische Untersuchungen fehlen unseres Wissens leider bisher vollständig.
  • Seltener wird das Betonmaterial mit angenehmen Erlebnissen wie Nüchternheit, Freiheit, Hochgefühl verbunden. Auch sie werden verständlich: Bei einseitiger, von starken Lebenskräften dominierter Konstitution kann es als befreiend empfunden werden, wenn sich isolierend-formende astralische (Bewusstseins-) Kräfte gegenüber dem zusammenfließend-verwebenden ätherischen Leben stärker geltend machen. Die Langzeitwirkungen wären aber auch hier zu untersuchen.

Auch kulturell-historische Erscheinungen wurzeln in der qualitativen Kräftewirkung, die vom Material Beton ausgeht:

  • Die zuvor von den Handwerken bestimmte Struktur des Bauwesens erfuhr durch den Beton ab Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts eine umstürzende Neuorganisation: eine Trennung zwischen qualifizierter Kopfarbeit und bloßer Handarbeit wie bei keiner anderen Bauweise und eine Fokussierung der leitenden Funktionen in Konzept und Design, Bauleitung und Qualitätskontrolle auf eine kleine Gruppe von kopfarbeitenden Spezialisten. Damit zeigt der soziale Organismus die gleichen Beton-Wirkungen, wie wir sie für die individuelle Physiologie im betonierten Raum diagnostiziert haben. Die Entqualifizierung der Handarbeit führte direkt zu der engen Verbindung des Betonbaus erstens mit Zwangsarbeit (Drittes Reich, Sowjetunion, China), zweitens mit der damit durchaus verwandten Bewegung des fragmentierend-quantifizierenden »Scientific Management« (F. Taylor), die viel zur Verödung der Arbeitswelt beitrug.
  • Der Verlust von Ätherkräften bedeutet auch den Rückgang seelischer Lebendigkeit. Die innere Verarmung und Erstarrung unserer Lebenssphäre durch den Beton wirkt auf unser Denken, Fühlen und die Fantasie wieder zurück. So setzen unsere Gestaltungen das Wesen des Betons fort. Beton ist der treue Heinrich des Menschen genannt worden.5 Umgekehrt dient der Mensch dem Beton, bis er sich erkennend und handelnd frei macht.
  • Tatsächlich fand in der Architektur parallel zur Verbreitung des Betons ein Verlust an Organik, Harmonie und »Bodenhaftung« statt. Die Zone der natürlich gewachsenen Erdoberfläche und der gegenseitigen Durchdringung von Lebensräumen und Lebensprozessen wurde von architektonischen Konzepten nach oben und unten durchbrochen. Auch diese Abstreifung des menschlichen Maßes ist Symptom des Überhandnehmens von einseitig kopfzentrierten Astralkräften gegenüber den organismisch verankerten Ätherkräften.

 

Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone? Mary Oliver, Humpbacks (1983)

Menschheitsprojekt

Es wäre falsch, vom Beton gering zu denken! Groß sind nicht etwa nur die heute verbauten Mengen dieser Substanz. Groß ist auch die Idee, die ihnen zugrunde liegt. Mit der Betonherstellung hat der Mensch begonnen, die geologischen Prozesse in die eigene Hand zu nehmen.6 Dabei erzeugt er, über die Rekapitulation von Feuer- und Flüssigkeits-Vorstufen der Erde, einen beliebig formbaren Stein seines eigenen Willens. Zeugnisse aus der Jugend des Industriebetons im 19. Jahrhundert vermitteln die Begeisterung darüber, dass endlich die uralte Vision der Maurerei von einer fugenlos kompakten Bauweise Wirklichkeit geworden war. Ihr hatten sich alle bisherigen Verbundtechniken im Bauen anzunähern gesucht, angefangen bei Ästen, Laub, Moos, Lehm, Fellen.

Man muss aber den Beton auch in seiner zeitlichen Dimension groß denken lernen. Das hat etwas Verblüffendes, da doch an der Substanz Beton alle Geschichte und alle Geschichten zum Stillstand zu kommen scheinen – auch dies ein Symptom seiner vernichtenden Wirkung auf die Dimension des Lebendigen: »Concrete has (…) been so often regarded as the material of oblivion, erasing and obliterating memory, cutting people off from their past, from themselves, from each other.«7 Dieses Bild relativiert und wandelt sich komplett, wenn man auf die zeitlich und geistig tiefsten Wurzeln der Betontechnologie zurückgeht, um dann ihr Leben Schritt für Schritt bis in die Gegenwart zu verfolgen.Staunend erkennt man dabei: Die Betontechnologie ist eine Mutter-, Anker- und Leittechnologie der menschlichen Kulturentwicklung überhaupt. Der Weg des Betons ist der Weg der Menschheit, und Beton ein Menschheitsprojekt, das heute – nach im Grunde wenigen Innovationsschritten – vor einer neuen, seiner dritten großen Etappe steht:

Die Zeichnungen fassen Phänomene schematisch zusammen. Rot steht für ätherische Prozesse, Blau für astralische Kräfte. (Text und Zeichnungen: José Martinez)

Naturbeton 8: Beginn mit der Inspirierung des Kalkbrennens in altsteinzeitlichen Tempelstätten (Göbekli Tepe). Neukombination von Naturkräften. Verbunden mit tiefen moralisch-spirituellen Leitimpulsen, die als Kain-Prometheus-Hiram-Strömung historisch konkret identifizierbar werden und nahtlos in die mittelalterlichen Bauhütten überführen (nachfolgend nur angedeutet). Lebenskräfte im Einklang mit den Naturkräften

 

Industriebeton: Seit den 1840er Jahren. Materialistisch-unterphysische Inspiration und Wirkung. Keine moralische Einbettung. Die industrielle Aneignung von Naturprozessen schlägt über Brenntemperaturen, Druckverhältnisse, zeitliche Kompression in die Unternatur durch. Steigerung der physikalischen Qualität, aber abbauende Wirkungen auf das organische und seelische Leben.

 

Kulturbeton: Aufgabe von der Gegenwart an auf der Basis neuer Erkenntnis- und moralischer Impulse mit dem Einbezug überphysischer Dimensionen. Ziel: Aufrechterhaltung der physikalischen Qualitäten des Industriebetons, aber Verwandlung seiner bisherigen beeinträchtigenden Eigenschaften. Beton soll wieder eine ganzheitlich-menschliche Entwicklung unterstützen.

 

 

Beginn der Betongeschichte: Archäologische Ausgrabungsstätte von Göbekli Tepe bei Sanliurfa in der Türkei. (Foto: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut)

Altsteinzeit

Göbekli Tepe ist eine archäologische Grabungsstätte in der südostanatolischen Provinz Sanlıurfa.9 Die umfangreiche Siedlung aus Gebäuden und mehreren atemberaubenden Steinkreisen geht bis auf mindestens 9600 vor Christus zurück. Was davon – und an anderen Fundorten der Region – bisher freigelegt worden ist, hat unser Bild des Übergangs von der Alt- zur Jungsteinzeit, des Beginns der Sesshaftigkeit und der Urtechnologien gründlich revidiert.

Göbekli Tepe ist vor allem auch für die Geschichte und die spirituelle Identifizierung des Bau- und Betonwesens entscheidend. Göbekli Tepe, die älteste bekannte Siedlung der Erde, hatte zwar jungsteinzeitliche Erscheinung, ihre Bauherren und Hüter waren aber altsteinzeitliche Nomaden, die dort nie sesshaft wurden. Was war also ihr Motiv, hier unter anderem bis 5 Meter hohe und 50 Tonnen schwere Stelen am Stück aus dem Kalkfels zu brechen, zu transportieren und aufzurichten – 7000 Jahre vor dem Bau von Stonehenge und der Cheops-Pyramide? In einzelnen Gebäuden von Göbekli Tepe wurden die allerersten Terrazzoböden entdeckt: Estriche aus einem Luftkalk-Lehm-Mischmörtel mit Kalksteinfragmenten als Zuschlag. Dass hier, wohl zum ersten Mal überhaupt, Kalkmörtel hergestellt wurde, setzte zwei Technologien voraus: Erstens die Meisterung des Feuers, zweitens – als ihr Inhalt und Zweck – den sogenannten technischen Kalkkreislauf. Dieser stellt die menschliche Aneignung eines geologisch-mineralischen Grundprozesses dar, des natürlichen Kalkkreislaufs. Diese Aneignung geschieht in dem ersten von drei Substanz-Verwandlungsschritten über den gezielten Einsatz des Feuers, das im natürlichen Kalkkreislauf nicht vorkommt.10

Das Brennen von Kalk verlangt Temperaturen von mindestens 850° Celsius. Bemerkenswerterweise ist die Pyrotechnologie also nicht, wie zu erwarten gewesen wäre, erstmals mit Öfen für niedrige oder mittlere Temperaturen aufgetreten: Backen und Töpferei wurden erst deutlich später erfunden. Vielmehr mussten die überaus einfachen Anlagen sogleich hohe Temperaturen hergeben. Im gleichen Sinne ist grundsätzlich bemerkenswert, dass die Geschichte der Erfindungen überhaupt mit dem Kalkmörtel einsetzte. Vor Töpfern, Weben, Agrikultur wurde der Stein, das härteste verfügbare Material verwandelt – mit enormem menschlichem und sozialem Einsatz: Ein einziger Brennvorgang von drei Tagen und zwei Nächten, aus dem nur eine geringe Menge an Ätzkalk resultierte, machte die Bereitstellung von rund 45 Kubikmetern Brennholz notwendig – mit Steinwerkzeugen. In der Handhabung des Ätzkalks bestand Gefahr für Leib und Leben.

 

Kreis von Stelen in Göbekli Tepe. (Foto: Deutsches Archäologisches Institut)

 

In Göbekli Tepe traten also, äußerlich ohne Nutzwert und Notwendigkeit, völlig neuartige Techniken in einer Intensität und Qualität auf, die lange unerreicht bleiben sollten.11 (Dies trifft übrigens auch auf die künstlerische Bearbeitung der Kalkstein-Stelen zu.) Göbekli Tepe war beides in einem: bedeutende Tempelstätte und Innovationspark der Altsteinzeit. Weitgreifende menschheitliche Entwicklungsschritte wurden hier unter Führung geistiger Wesen angelegt, darunter namentlich die Sesshaftigkeit und ihre notwendigen Veränderungen. Dafür musste die Konstitution der menschlichen Gesamtwesenheit neu gemischt und gehärtet werden, was neue handwerkliche Fähigkeiten und Orientierungen und sogar den Einbezug von Substanzkräften in der Umwelt mit einschloss. Für diese Zeitalteraufgabe lohnte es sich, alles zu geben. In Göbekli Tepe stand dabei die Setzung der Baukunst im Vordergrund mit dem Ziel und Zweck, für das individuelle und soziale Leben des Menschen neue, nicht mehr naturgegebene Hüllen zu verfertigen.

Über die nacheiszeitlich sich entwickelnde Baukunst hat der Mensch seine Verhältnisse rundum neu definiert: zum Oben und zum Unten, zum Innen und zum Außen, zum Licht und zum Dunkel. In die Mitte, zwischen den Gegensätzen, wurde die neue, eigene, menschliche Welt gebaut. In deren Brennpunkt war die Geistigkeit und Freiheitsmöglichkeit des individuellen Ich von Anfang an anwesend – mit der Möglichkeit, die Gegensätze in sich und in der Welt verwandelnd zu vereinen. In Göbekli Tepe wurde dieses wandelnde Vereinen, in alchymistischer Innen-Außen-Korrespondenz, auch äußerlich, nämlich in der Kalkverarbeitung für die Baukunst vollzogen: zwischen Feuer und Wasser, mit dem magisch-wundersamen und epochalen Ergebnis eines menschgemachten Steins, dem Fundament für die weitere zivilisatorisch-kulturelle Entwicklung der Menschheit.

Jerusalem und Rom

Die nächste größere Etappe wurde um 1000 vor Christus eingeleitet. Jerusalem erlebte unter David und Salomo einen allgemeinen Aufschwung, der eine Vergrößerung des Wassersystems mit sich zog. Die Leitung der Bauarbeiten oblag, wie für den gleichzeitig errichteten Tempel, den Phöniziern unter ihrem legendären Baumeister Hiram. Für die neuen Zisternen wurde dabei dem Luftkalk zum ersten Mal tonhaltiges Ziegelmehl beigemischt – ein kaum zu unterschätzender Innovationsschritt: Der hydraulische, das heißt wasserfeste und sogar unter Wasser härtende Mörtel war erfunden.

Von den Griechen unter dem Namen »Emplekton« ebenfalls angewendet, ging er an die Römer über, die ihn als Opus Caementitium vom Beginn des dritten vorchristlichen Jahrhunderts an verwendet und wesentlich verbessert haben.12 Sie entdeckten nämlich, dass Härte, Haltbarkeit und Hydraulik des Kalkmörtels enorm gesteigert wurden, wenn ihm statt Ziegel ein bestimmter Tuffstein (Puzzolan) aus dem vulkanisch aktiven Gebiet von Puteoli (heute Pozzuoli) bei Neapel in gemahlener Form zugesetzt wurde.13 Das Jahrhunderte währende Imperium Romanum, ein Kulturen-Konglomerat, stützte sich nicht nur für seine Gebäude, sondern auch für sein feinfaseriges Infrastruktur-Skelett mit Wasser- und Abwassersystemen, Hafenanlagen, Straßen, Brücken, Tunneln auf diesen Beton ab. Auch Rom hat dabei die Zeitalteraufgabe neu gelöst: die Konstitution der menschlichen Gesamtwesenheit wiederum neu zu »mischen« und zu härten. Grundlage der »Pax Romana« war nicht ein gemeinsamer geistiger Impuls. Im Gegenteil, dieses Reich war ganz »von dieser Welt«: Sein »Zement« bestand wesentlich aus der Ausschaltung des Geistes zugunsten einer Steigerung – und Erfüllung! – des persönlichen, physisch orientierten Nutzstrebens. Für diesen damals stimmigen inneren Entwicklungsschritt war der neue Beton ein stiller, aber aktiv kongenialer äußerer Mit-Faktor.

Nach dem äußeren Zusammenbruch Roms blieb die Leistungsfähigkeit seines Reichs wie auch seines Betons über viele Jahrhunderte ein Ideal, im Grunde bis heute: Das Pantheon steht noch nach 2000 Jahren nahezu unverändert, was keine einzige unserer (Eisen-) Betonbauten auch nur annähernd tun wird. Als Ideal blieben in den Bauhütten und Maurervereinigungen über das Mittelalter bis in die Neuzeit hinein auch die moralischen und spirituellen Impulse der Mörtel- und Betonentwicklung im Kern erhalten, namentlich in der lange nur mündlich tradierten »Tempellegende« um den Baumeister Hiram und dessen geistigen Hintergrund in den Menschheitsanfängen.

Im 18. und frühen 19. Jahrhundert wurden dann, aus dem in der Aufklärung neu errungenen empirisch-klassifizierenden Bewusstsein heraus, vor allem in Frankreich und England systematische Untersuchungen vorgenommen, etwa an Zementbestandteilen und Steinbruch-Qualitäten. So gelang es, Ton als ausschlaggebenden Faktor für die Hydraulizität zu erkennen und eine gewisse Standardisierung der Zemente zu erreichen, von denen ein besonders leistungsfähiger typischerweise den Namen »Roman cement« erhielt.

Industrielle Revolution

Was um 1841 in der Kleinstadt Wakefield geschah, in der Nähe der englischen Maschinenbau- und Textilmetropole Leeds, verbirgt sich hinter einem Schleier der Dubiosität aus Winkelzügen, Diebstahl geistigen Eigentums und Lügen. Es war also definitiv nicht das Ergebnis von Tempel- oder sakralhandwerklicher Inspiration. Es scheint »Zufall« gewesen zu sein, entsprungen dem Empirismus, der in zehntausend lotterigen Kleinfabriken entfesselt worden war, wo alles ausprobiert wurde, was auch nur entfernt die Aussicht verhieß, das eigene Produkt mit Vorteil anbieten zu können. Die bahnbrechenden Inspirationen jener Tage entstiegen der Materie selbst und ihrer technischen Manipulation – in Korrespondenz zum Materialismus, der auch philosophisch und sozial den Platz zu beherrschen begann. Eine mehr oder weniger zufällig geeignete mineralische Mischung, mehr oder weniger zufällig gebrannt in Temperaturen, wie sie die industriell verbesserten Ofentechniken allmählich neu hergaben: das Resultat, dunkel verglaste kleine Steinknollen, schaute seltsam aus. Man hat es trotzdem gemahlen und dem Mörtel zugesetzt. Und siehe da, es war gut! Denn der Klinker, dieser Industriemutant der Puzzolanerde, setzte bisher unbekannte Qualitäten, neue Kräfte frei. Zement und Beton des Industriezeitalters waren geboren!

 

Diagnose (II): Substanz im Industrieofen

Die Untersuchung römischer Bauten durch Martinez ergab, dass sich die ätherische Kräftenatur von Opus Caementitium, also Naturbeton, nicht prinzipiell von Naturstein unterscheidet. Ganz anders Industriebeton, der sich abbauend auf die Lebenskräfte auswirkt. Warum? Die Hypothesen aus unseren technikgeschichtlichen Studien konnten mittels direkter Untersuchungen im Zementwerk und an Klinker bestätigt werden.

Wärme ist eine geistige Kraft, die überall das Leben ermöglicht. Die physisch-elementare Wärme hat einen überphysisch-ätherischen Teil und einen unterphysischen Teil – das Feuer. Feuer ist zerstörerisch, es vernichtet Leben. Aber Feuer, sogar noch die Elektrizität, die nächsttiefer liegende unterphysische Kraft, kann gezähmt und lebensfördernd eingesetzt werden. Dies geschieht beim handwerklichen Kalkbrennen, und es ist auch in dem von den Puzzolanen durchlaufenen Vulkanismus gewährleistet. Denn der Vulkanismus ist organhaft eingebunden in die Physiologie des planetarischen Organismus als Ganzem. Der Vulkanismus treibt die Kontinentalplatten durch ihren äonenlangen Lebenszyklus von Entstehung, Metamorphose und Vergehen. Die vulkanischen Puzzolane des römischen Zements sind nicht aus den Lebenszusammenhängen gefallen. Anders der Klinker des Industriezements. Mit den industriellen Brenntechniken und -anlagen geht es dem Menschen gerade darum, den vulkanisch-unterirdischen Feuerprozess aus seiner Einbettung in die planetarisch-physiologischen Kreisläufe zu lösen und frei verfügbar zu machen. An die Erdoberfläche gezogen, wird er in der Kapsel der technischen Anlage isoliert betrieben. In dem, was die mineralischen Rohmaterialien des Zements dabei durchlaufen, sind drei gebündelte Teilprozesse unterscheidbar, von denen jeder einzelne den Boden, den Rahmen und die rhythmisch durchlaufenen Zyklen der lebendigen der Biosphäre, der lebendigen Naturkräfte, durchbricht – und verlässt:

  • Temperatur: Die Brennung mit Teilschmelze (Sinterung), der das Gestein unterzogen wird, geschieht unter rund 1450° Celsius. Dies übersteigt die Temperaturen sowohl des handwerklichen Brennprozesses wie des vulkanischen Magmas deutlich.
  • Druck: Wärme bewirkt natürlicherweise Expansion. Diese kann sich im Industrieofen aber nicht entfalten. Der organische Atem zwischen Expansion und Kontraktion wird unterbunden, stattdessen wird einseitig großer Druck aufgebaut und durchgezwungen.
  • Zeit: Der industrielle Brennprozess des Gesteins ist im Vergleich zum natürlichen wie zum handwerklichen auch zeitlich auf ein Nichts komprimiert: moderne Anlagen arbeiten mit 30 Minuten Feuerung und 30 Minuten Schockkühlung.

Nachdem die Gesteine dem Industrieofen unterzogen wurden, befinden sie sich ätherisch in einem Zustand, der weit entfernt ist vom Sonnenlicht. Lebensfördernde Wärmeprozesse sind in Todes- und Kontraktionsprozesse umgeschlagen. Industriebeton ist nicht, wie natürliches Gestein und Naturbeton, »natürlich tot«. Industriebeton, mit seinem Unterdruck an Lebenskräften und seinen Absaugwirkungen auf die Lebenskräfte von Lebewesen, ist »untertot«.

Puzzolangestein aus den phlegräischen Feldern bei Pozzuoli, Neapel, entscheidender Faktor für den während fast 2000 Jahren unübertroffenen römischen Naturbeton. (Foto: Pneumatit AG)

 

Klinker: teil-verglastes Gestein nach dem Durchgang durch den Drehrohrofen in einem modernen Zementwerk bei 1450o Celsius. (Foto: Pneumatit AG)

Pneumatit

Unsere Diagnosen beschreiben und begründen beeinträchtigende Wirkungen des Industriebetons – auf unser Wohlbefinden, auf unsere seelische Spannkraft, Vielfalt und Differenziertheit, auf unsere weiteren individuellen und sozialen Entwicklungsmöglichkeiten. Ein generelles Nein zu Beton bedeutet das aber nicht! Mit Blick auf dessen Ursprünge und Bedeutung erschiene uns ein solches nicht nur absurd, sondern auch spirituell verantwortungslos.

Mit dem Auftrag seitens Gut Rheinau haben wir die Aufgabe angenommen, einen Beitrag an die Weiterentwicklung des Zement- und Betonimpulses zu leisten – hin zu seiner innerlich veredelten neuen Erscheinung als »Kulturbeton«. Das Ergebnis, Pneumatit, muss sich am Anspruch messen lassen: Unsere Wohn- und Arbeitsräume sollen zu Kraftorten werden! Das moderne Leben ist in vieler Hinsicht belastend geworden: Wir brauchen Räume, die unsere Regeneration aktiv unterstützen.

Pneumatit® ist ein markengeschützter biogener Zusatzstoff für für alle zementhaltigen und Anhydrit-Baustoffe, insbesondere Beton (auch Recyclingbeton) und Mörtel, in denen er eine feine Lebendigkeit dauerhaft verankert. Seine 20 durchwegs natürlichen Ausgangsstoffe sind mineralischen, pflanzlichen, tierischen und metallischen Ursprungs, darunter zum Beispiel Cuprit, Kupfersulfat, Euphorbium, Gingko, Schale von Nautilus pompilius, Oberschenkelknochen eines Eichelhähers und verschiedene Metalle. Jede Substanz trägt und verankert im Baustoff ganz bestimmte Kräfte zwischen geistig-überphysischen Bereichen einerseits und den geologischen Grundlagen andererseits, immer mit Hinblick auf die resultierenden Wirkungen auf Mensch und Tier. Mindestens so wichtig wie die Stoffe ist aber der komplexe auch logistisch anspruchsvolle Herstellungsprozess, der insgesamt fast 100 Schritte über 2 Wochen umfasst.

Pneumatit ist das Produkt einer eigentlichen Biotechnologie. Zu den durchwegs rhythmisch-zyklischen Prozessschritten seiner Herstellung gehören die mechanische Aufbereitung; die Dynamisierung mittels Verrührungen, lemniskatisch oder in Spezialformen; die Exposition unter freiem Himmel; Bestrahlungen mit Kunstlicht durch eine Schicht von Bergkristall-Pulver sowie pflanzengefärbte Seiden eines bestimmten Farbspektrums; Musik und Lesung; Ruhephasen unter bestimmten Bedingungen wie: im Nachtdunkel, in stark pflanzlich geprägter natürlicher Umgebung; rhythmisch-rotierende nächtliche Magnetisierung im Zentrum eines Felds zwischen 3 natürlichen Magnetit-Steinen; rhythmische Temperaturmodulationen zwischen 45 Grad und 2 Grad Celsius während 3 aufeinanderfolgenden Nächten; gesteuerte Verwirbelungen in organischer Gestalt und anderes.

Damit die notwendige ätherische Qualität und Geschlossenheit erreicht werden kann, kommt bei der Herstellung von Pneumatit nur ein Minimum an technischen Hilfsmitteln zum Einsatz: Präzisionswaage, Kühlschrank und elektrisches Licht (Glühbirne). Für verschiedene Prozessschritte mussten deshalb Installationen und manuell bediente „Apparate“ selbst entwickelt und gebaut werden. Überdies werden gezielt Bedingungen gestaltet, die den Prozess aktiv unterstützen. Auf elementarer Ebene gehören dazu die Wahl von Gefässformen und -materialien, der Tages- und Nachtzeiten der Arbeiten, der astronomischen Stellung der Sonne, teils auch der Planeten, der Ausrichtung im Koordinatensystem.

Ausgehend von einem Zwischenfabrikat auf der Potenzstufe D5 wird in einem letzten Prozessgang das fertige Produkt auf der Potenzstufe D7 homöopathisiert. Von Pneumatit geht keine Beeinflussung der physikalischen Eigenschaften des Baumaterials aus, Statik, Optik, Haptik, Misch-, Guss und Abbind-Verhalten bleiben unverändert. Das belegen verschiedene strenge Prüfungen und die Zulassungen nach offizieller Norm für ganz Europa. Dafür liegen verschiedene strenge Prüfungen und Zulassungen nach offizieller Norm für ganz Europa vor Die Wirkung unseres Zusatzstoffs entfaltet sich gezielt und gewollt nur auf der Ebene der Lebenskräfte.

Pneumatit ist flüssig und wird dem Flüssigbeton während 4 Minuten zugemischt, normalerweise im Betonwerk, manchmal auch auf der Baustelle. Längeres Einmischen, etwa im rotierenden Fahrmischer ab Werk, ist selbstverständlich möglich, aber nicht notwendig. Weil Pneumatit in potenzierter Form angewendet wird, sind nur kleine Mengen notwendig: Für 1 Kubikmeter Baumaterial braucht es 125 ml Pneumatit D5.

Exkurs 2: Naturstein – Industriebeton – Kulturbeton

Naturstein ist durch geologische Ereignisse ätherischer Art entstanden und mit kosmischen Kräften geprägt worden. Er wirkt deshalb auf den Ätherleib des Menschen neutral. Über längere biographische Perioden wird der Astralleib beeinflusst, je nach chemischer Komposition des Steins. Diese Einflüsse betreffen jedoch nicht die Bewusstseinsprozesse, also den geistigen Anteil des Menschen, wie er sich etwa in künstlerischer, philosophischer oder technischer Richtung kundtut. In einem Raum aus Naturstein behält der Mensch in seinem Äther- und Astralleib die Möglichkeit, mit den Kräften der Umgebung in Verbindung zu treten. Sein geistiges Leben wird sich grundsätzlich ähnlich wie in Naturumständen entfalten können.

Industriebeton schafft eine intensive Verspannung im Astralleib des Menschen. Auf die Rhythmen des Ätherleibs wirkt er blockierend, vernichtend. Eine von vielen Folgen ist, dass sich im menschlichen Seelenleben das Bewusstsein vom Raum-Zeit-Verhältnis verändert: Der Raum wird weniger bedeutend erlebt, während die Zeit von ihrem Fluss abgespalten erscheint, in der Qualität getrennt aufeinanderfolgender Abschnitte. In einem Raum aus Industriebeton strebt der Astralleib in seine geistige Heimat zurück. Weil er zugleich am Ätherleib klebt und auf ihn drückt, verliert dieser seine Integrität, wird zerstückelt. Zugleich sind die ätherischen Rhythmen durch das Übergreifen der astralischen Starre blockiert, als würde man mit angezogener Handbremse Auto fahren. Die extreme, tote Astralität des Betons mit ihrem Defizit an Lebenskräften saugt solche aus dem menschlichen Organismus ab und schwächt diesen in seinen physiologischen Funktionen, wobei der Ansatz je nach individueller physiologischer Neigung im Kreislauf, in der Verdauung, in den Gelenken, im Nervensystem oder woanders liegt. Von den Kräften der natürlichen Umgebung ist der Mensch in konventionellen Betonräumen völlig abgespalten. Diese Tatsache beeinflusst sein geistiges Leben, und sie polarisiert die Seelenkräfte einseitig zum Nerven- und Denkpol hin, der gleichzeitig unter Druck gesetzt wird.

Beton mit Pneumatit zeigt eine eigene ätherische Atmung, die dem menschlichen Ätherleib eine Hüllenqualität vermittelt. Seine Wirkung auf den Astralleib ist fast ganz neutral. Dadurch ist Pneumatit-Beton freilassend, wirkt also zum Beispiel nicht auf ein verspanntes Denken oder auf ein euphorisiertes Fühlen hin. Die Lebenskraft im Pneumatit-Beton ist eine zeitgemäße Ausbildung des umfassenden ätherischen Potentials, das im Urmeer sehr früher geologischer Zeiten vorhanden war, eine Kombination aller Ätherarten. Sie beinhaltet die geistige Kraft, die auch in der Bildung des zellulären Anteils des Blutes wirkt und dadurch den Beton näher an die menschliche Dimension rückt. Pneumatit-Beton bietet damit die irdisch-ätherische Grundlage für den Empfang von kosmischen Kräften, die einer ganzheitlichen menschlichen Entwicklung dienen. In einem Raum aus Pneumatit-Beton kann sich der menschliche Ätherleib eine freie Hülle mit harmonischer Verbindung von oberem und unterem Mensch schaffen. Der Astralleib wird von den Wirkungen des Baumaterials nicht berührt, was ein seelisches Innenleben ohne Druck möglich macht. Eine gewisse Trennung von den Kräften der natürlichen Umgebung bleibt, da es sich um einen künstlichen Lebensraum handelt. In diesem kann der Mensch aber die Physiologie seiner Wesensglieder voll entfalten.

 

Gehäuse eines Nautilus pompilius im Röntgenbild. (Foto: Naturhistorisches Museum Basel)

Erlebnisberichte und Wirksamkeitsnachweise

Es war nicht das Ziel, Betonhüllen zu schaffen, die sich dem Erleben dauernd aufdrängen. Viele Menschen können sich die Wirkung von pneumatisiertem Beton aber bewusst machen, und sie umschreiben sie sehr ähnlich. Bitte lesen Sie doch die unter »Begegnung« zusammengefassten Erlebnisse noch einmal, sie beziehen sich alle auf Pneumatit-Beton! Mit breitgefächerten, unterschiedlichen Tests konnte die Wirkung von Pneumatit seit 2008 auch wissenschaftlich mit großer Übereinstimmung festgestellt werden.14 Dabei war ein naturwissenschaftlicher Nachweis unabdingbar. Fülle und Reichweite der Pneumatit-Wirkungen können aber nur durch direkte Beobachtungen auf ihrer eigenen Ebene nachgewiesen werden. Darum wurden auch mehrere unabhängige überphysische Untersuchungen in Auftrag gegeben, ergänzend auch radiästhetische und komplementärmedizinische. – Beispiele:

  • Ein größerer naturwissenschaftlich-statistischer Versuch maß die Herzratenvariabilität (HRV) und ermittelte psychometrisch das subjektive Befinden und das Raumerleben von Versuchspersonen in extra erstellten Betonräumen mit beziehungsweise ohne Pneumatit. Fazit des mit der Untersuchung beauftragten Human Research Institut (Weiz A): »Im Pneumatit-Raum fühlten sich die Versuchspersonen besser. Sie verbrauchten für die gleiche Leistung weniger biophysiologische Ressourcen (Lebenskräfte) als im Raum aus konventionellem Beton und blieben in einem erholteren Zustand. Mit beiden Methoden ergab sich kein einziges Ergebnis, das zugunsten des Raumes aus konventionellem Beton gesprochen hätte.«
  • Im physikalisch-statischen Unbedenklichkeitszeugnis nach dem Materialtest durch das Holcim-Betonlabor wurde festgestellt, dass frisch gegossener Beton mit Pneumatit eine tendenziell höhere Plastizität und einen etwas geringeren Luftporengehalt aufweist als konventioneller Beton. Bautechnologisch irrelevant, zeigte sich in diesen Phänomenen am sensiblen Frischbeton aber doch bis in die Physikalität das Mehr an aufbauenden Lebenskräften (höhere Plastizität) und die Reduktion der abbauenden astralischen Kräfte (weniger Luftporen)
  • Ein grosses Problem für die Vermittlung nicht-physischer Tatsachen – und so auch der Eigenschaften unseres Produktes – ist natürlich die Tatsache, dass sie mit physischen Sinnen eben nicht wahrnehmbar sind. Ein Mittel, diese Eigenschaften zur Wahrnehmung zu bringen, ist die Herstellung von Kristallisationsbildern im Verfahren der Dunkelfeld-Mikroskopie, siehe nachvolgende  Kristallisationsbilder:Wenn Flüssigkeiten kristallisieren, wirken die in ihnen enthaltenen Lebenskräfte mit. In den ganz spezifisch gestalteten Mikrostrukturen, die dabei entstehen, können diese Lebenskräfte sichtbar gemacht werden. Hier für unterschiedlich gelagertes Quellwasser nach 3 Tagen: reines Quellwasser,  dasselbe Wasser nach konventionellem Beton, Quellwasser nach Pneumatit®- Beton. (Untersuchung und Fotos: LifeVisionLab, Schlieren)

    1 Ursprüngliches Quellwasser. Organische Kristallstrukturen machen das schöpferische Potential der natürlichen Lebenskräfte sichtbar. (Vergrösserung x200)

     

    2 Quellwasser nach konventionellem Beton. Durchwegs tote Strukturen, die Lebensprozesse sind erstickt. (x200)

     

     

    3 Quellwasser nach Pneumatit®-Beton (1). Die organischen Strukturen zeigen, dass die Sperre gegenüber den Lebenskräften dank Pneumatit® aufgehoben ist. (x200)

     

     

    4 Quellwasser nach Pneumatit®-Beton (2). Solche sechsgliedrigen Strukturen, die im ursprünglichen, rein organischen Quellwasser noch nicht vorhanden waren, zeigen ein Leben höherer, geistiger Ordnung an. (x500)

     

  • Frank Burdich, Naturwissenschafter und Geschäftsführer der Gesellschaft für angewandte Geistesforschung hielt die überphysische Wirkung von Pneumatit-Beton im Unterschied zu konventionellem wie folgt fest: »Er wirkte umfangend, hüllend und ließ Raum für das Bewusstsein, diesen Werkstoff zu durchdringen. Es konnte leicht ein Bewusstseinsbezug zur Umgebung aufgebaut werden. Die Wirkung war insgesamt als angenehm zu bezeichnen. (…) Sowohl die ätherischen als auch die astralen Hüllen waren harmonisch und ausgeprägt, wodurch sie eine zum Wohlbefinden beitragende Resonanzwirkung bei den in ihre Umgebung kommenden Lebewesen ermöglichen. So kann es zu einer Harmonisierung der Wesensglieder der vom Pneumatitbeton beeinflussten Lebewesen kommen.« Burdich attestiert und begründet für Pneumatit-Beton überdies einen »außergewöhnlichen Geistbezug«.
  • Auch Forscher, Seminarleiter und Autor Dorian Schmidt (*) diagnostizierte die überphysischen Wirkungen: »In der Erscheinung und in der Wirkung auf den Menschen unterscheidet sich die Pneumatit-Betonplatte erheblich von der konventionellen Betonplatte. Die konventionelle Betonplatte ist gekennzeichnet durch Ätherkräfte verbrauchende Prozesse (…). Entsprechend sind die Wirkungen auf den Menschen, die dieser ständig ausgleichen muss. Die Pneumatit-Betonplatte fördert den Klangäther, verbindet diesen mit Seelenkräften und führt beide zu einer höheren Harmonie. Im Menschen wirken diese Kräfte aufbauend, den Brust-Lungen-Bereich stärkend und führen in Zusammenhang mit dem belebten Hör-Klang-Raum zu einer Empfänglichkeit für Inspiratives.« Pneumatit sei »ein großer Fortschritt und seine Verbreitung sehr wünschenswert«.
  • Nach einem Vergleich an drei Probanden mittels Elektroakupunktur nach Dr. Voll fasste Dr.med. Friedrich Begher zusammen: »Wir haben hier ein Ergebnis mit ausgezeichneter Signifikanz. (…) Dem mit dem Zuschlagsstoff Pneumatit-2 (…) behandelten Beton kann aus EAV-ärztlicher Sicht eine hervorragende Verträglichkeit bescheinigt werden. Der Zuschlag von Pneumatit-2 zum Beton kompensiert gesundheitlich negative Eigenschaften des Betons soweit getestet vollumfänglich, und der Baustoff Beton verliert seine schädlichen Einwirkungen auf den menschlichen Organismus.«
  • Architekt, Baubiologe und Radiästhet Paul Leibundgut hat die Probeplatten überphysisch in Sekundenschnelle richtig identifiziert. Seine ausführliche radiästhetische Untersuchung stellte fest, dass Pneumatit die krankmachende Tendenz von Beton hin zu Symptomen »wie Gicht, Multiple Sklerose, Rheuma, Verkalkung in Nacken, Schultern« verwandle zur Qualität von »Schutz und Heilung bei Belastungen, Schocks, Stress, Angst, Panik, seelischem Ungleichgewicht«. Die seelische Beeinflussung durch Beton mit der Tendenz zu Resignation, Verzweiflung, Unentschlossenheit, Negativität werde durch Pneumatit in »weise Gerechtigkeit« verwandelt, mit der Vermittlung von »Hoffnung, Lebensbejahung, Kraft und Mut«.

 Diversifizierung: Pneumatit®protect-Farben

Pneumatit muss in den Frischbeton eingemischt werden. Fragen nach einer «Pneumatit-Behandlung» für bestehende Betonräume konnten deshalb während vieler Jahre nicht beantwortet werden. 2023 kam in einer neuen Branche ein neues Pneumatit-Produkt auf den Markt, in Zusammenarbeit mit Thymos Naturfarben CH und Beeck Mineralfarben DE.

Beton härtet aus, weil sich in einer chemischen «Hochzeit» (sog. Hydratation) die Moleküle des Zements und die des Zumischwassers auflösen und zu etwas Drittem verbinden: einem Kosmos von haar- und nadelförmigen Mikrokristallen im Beton-Inneren. Ist dem Zumischwasser Pneumatit beigegeben, steigt dessen lebendige Wirkung – bisher «Fahrgast» des sich auflösenden Wassers – in die Kristallbildung um. Und Kristalle, eine Sonderform des Mineralischen, haben die Fähigkeit, biologisch aktive Kräfte (Leben) in ihr Inneres dauerhaft aufzunehmen. Das zeigen sie durch ihr Wachstum, das sonst lebendigen Organismen vorbehalten ist.

Für die zwei Pneumatit®protect-Farblinien (Silikat und Kalk) wird ein Zuschlag aus sehr feinem gemahlenem Pneumatit-Spezialmörtel hergestellt. Mit dem doppelten Anstrich werden auch die Pneumatit-tragenden Kristalle, Mikrotresore des Lebens, über die Flächen gelegt: eine biologisch hochaktive Schutzhaut, die den Raum von den Einwirkungen des Betons vollständig abschirmt und lebendiger macht. www.pneumatit-protect.ch

 

Erweiterungsbau der Inklusionsschule Parzival Zentrum in Karlsruhe, mit Pneumatit. (Foto: Weisenburger GmbH, Rastatt)

Der Betrieb

Seit seiner Fertigstellung 2007 bis Mitte 2023 ist Pneumatit in rund 160 000 Kubikmetern Beton zur Anwendung gekommen. Der Vertrieb erfolgte während 10 Jahren ausschliesslich über Mund-zu-Mund-Empfehlungen, erst seit Anfang 2016 wird aktives Marketing betrieben.

2014 wurde die Einpersonengesellschaft Pneumatit GmbH gegründet und schon 2017 in eine AG mit einem Kapital von CHF 790 000 umgewandelt. Die Pneumatit AG ist ein anerkannter Fintan Betrieb mit dem entsprechenden Qualitätssiegel. Die 2022 gegründete Stiftung Revivis hat alle Anteile des Gründers an der AG überschrieben erhalten und ist seither Mehrheitsaktionärin. Damit ist garantiert, dass der Impuls, der zu Pneumatit geführt hat, weiterlebt und in anderen Lebensbereichen fruchtbar wird.

Unsere Kunden sind sensible, wache, engagierte Menschen. In ihnen lebt die gleiche Überzeugung wie in uns: Es ist unumgänglich geworden, für das künftige Wohlergehen von Erde und Menschheit ein Mehr aufzubringen und dafür den Zugang zu weiteren, zu nicht-physischen Dimensionen zu finden, zu aktivieren und in entsprechenden Produkten zu realisieren.

Es ist den Menschen einst gelungen, den Wolf, ihren tödlichen Feind, zu ihrem treusten Beschützer und Begleiter zu machen. Der heutige Wolf ist die Technik: sie greift die menschlichen Lebenskräfte an. Sie gilt es heute zu zähmen.

 

Anmerkungen

  1. Christoph Hackelsberger: Beton: Stein der Weisen? Nachdenken über einen Baustoff. Braunschweig 1988.
  2. Zahlen: Robert Courland: Concrete Planet. The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World’s Most Common Man-Made Material. Amherst 2011 sowie Adrian Forty: Concrete and Culture. A Material History. London 2012. Nationale und internationale Zement- und Betonstatistiken: https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/usbmmyb.html, unter “Metals and Minerals” mit dem Suchbegriff “hydraulic cement: world production, by country” (vor 1968 wird noch nicht in metrischen Tonnen, sondern in Barrels gerechnet). – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cement_production, Abschnitt “References”. – https://www.indexmundi.com/en/commodities/minerals/cement/cement_t22.html; https://www.statista.com/statistics/219343/cement-production-worldwide/;    https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/cement/mcs-2011-cemen.pdf
  3. Wasser-Statistiken: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasserverbrauch#Zahlen_zum_Wasserverbrauch
  4. Nachfolgend zitiert aus Kathrin Bonacker: Beton – ein Baustoff wird Schlagwort. Geschichte eines Imagewandels von 1945 bis heute. Marburg 1996 und Christoph Hackelsberger: Beton: Stein der Weisen? Nachdenken über einen Baustoff. Braunschweig 1988.
  5. Das von Rudolf Steiner entwickelte und »Eurythmie« genannte Gebärden-Organon ist hervorragend geeignet, in ätherischen Gefügen gezielte Veränderungen hervorzurufen. Eurythmie kann deshalb zum Beispiel therapeutisch, aber auch in der Landwirtschaft oder in der Baukunst eingesetzt werden. Voraussetzung ist eine vorgängige präzise Diagnose und die Möglichkeit direkter Wahrnehmung der ätherischen Wirkungen.
  6. Dieter Bartetzko: Der treue Heinrich – Beton, das unbekannte Wesen, in: Nils Aschenbeck: Häuser, Türme und Schiffe – gebaut aus Beton. Paul Kossel, Pionier des Betonbaus. Delmenhorst, Berlin 2003.
  7. Das Endprodukt gleicht dem überall auf der Welt vorkommenden Konglomeratgestein (in Alpennähe Nagelfluh, auch »Herrgottsbeton« genannt) und wird diesem oft fast gleichgestellt. Konglomerate entstanden in erosionsreicher Fluss- oder Küstenlage als reines Sediment, das durch das natürliche Bindemittel von kalk- oder quarzhaltigem Porenwasser verkittet wurde. Das Bindemittel im Beton (wie auch schon im Kalkmörtel) setzt aber den Durchgang durch intensive Feuerprozesse voraus.
  8. Adrian Forty: Concrete and Culture. A Material History. London 2012, S. 197. Siehe dazu Martinez‘ Diagnose von der Veränderung der Zeitwahrnehmung durch den Industriebeton in seinen Erläuterungen zu den drei Schemata.
  9. Der Begriff »Naturbeton« wird hier bewusst und neu geprägt. Er wurde in anderen Zusammenhängen immer wieder verwendet: für Nagelfluh, neue, zementfreie Baustoffe oder auch nur Industrie(sicht)beton.
  10. Wir stützen uns im Folgenden auf die wertvollen Vorarbeiten von Courland (2011, dort weitere Literaturhinweise), der sich durch seine materialistische Interpretation und Spekulation leider an einer tieferen Einsicht hindert.
  11. Technischer Kalkreislauf: (1) Brennen des Kalksteins mit gelenktem Feuer zum Brannt- oder Ätzkalk, wobei Kohlendioxid entweicht: Calciumcarbonat CaCO³ → Calciumoxid CaO; (2) Löschen des Ätzkalks durch Beigabe von Wasser zum Löschkalk (mit wenig Wasser ein ätzendes, reaktionsbereites Pulver): Calciumoxid CaO → Calciumhydroxid Ca(OH)²; zusammen mit Zuschlagstoffen (Sand, Kies) und genügend Wasser wird aus Löschkalk Kalkmörtel; (3) Abbinden (Härten und Trocknen) des Mörtels unter Beizug des Kohlendioxids der Luft zum festen Mörtel: Calciumhydroxid Ca(OH)² → Calciumcarbonat CaCO³. Im technischen Kalkkreislauf übernimmt das Feuer die Rolle, die im natürlichen Kreislauf der CO²-Gehalt des Wassers bei der Verwitterung des Kalksteins spielt. Selbstverständlich bringt das Feuer aber seine eigenen Kräfte in das Verfahren und die Produktqualität ein.
  12. Platon hat bei seinem berühmten Ausspruch, dass die Notwendigkeit die Mutter der Erfindung sei, mit Sicherheit nicht bloß äußerlich-materielle Notwendigkeiten gemeint. Andernfalls wäre ihm gerade mit Blick auf Göbekli Tepe entschieden zu widersprechen. Was dort geschah, war im Rahmen der damals aktuellen Raum-, Zeit- und Aufwand-Nutzen-Verhältnisse eben überhaupt nicht notwendig. Umso tiefere und nachhaltigere Wirkung war ihm beschieden.
  13. Möglicherweise haben die Römer den hydraulischen Zement auch unabhängig selbst noch einmal erfunden, eine Überlieferung seitens Griechen ist nicht direkt belegt.
  14. Unter dem Namen »Puzzolane« werden heute Zementadditive verschiedenster Herkunft zusammengefasst (z. B. Hochofenasche), die dank ihrer chemischen Zusammensetzung hydraulisch wirksam (»puzzolanisch aktiv«) sind.
  15. Alle Testberichte (wie auch die ausführlichen Erlebnisschilderungen) können auf www.pneumatit.ch\Grundlagen\Wirksamkeit eingesehen werden. Die positiven Ergebnisse sind auch für die Homöopathie bedeutsam sowie als Beleg für die Tatsächlichkeit nicht-physischer Wirklichkeitsbereiche, ihrer Relevanz, ihrer Erforschbarkeit und der praktischen Umsetzbarkeit der dabei gewonnenen Erkenntnisse.

Literatur

  • Dieter Bartetzko: Der treue Heinrich – Beton, das unbekannte Wesen, in: Nils Aschenbeck: Häuser, Türme und Schiffe – gebaut aus Beton. Paul Kossel, Pionier des Betonbaus. Delmenhorst, Berlin 2003.
  • Kathrin Bonacker: Beton – ein Baustoff wird Schlagwort. Geschichte eines Imagewandels von 1945 bis heute. Marburg 1996.
  • Robert Courland: Concrete Planet. The Strange and Fascinating Story of the World’s Most Common Man-Made Material. Amherst 2011.
  • Gwenaël Delhumeau: L’invention du béton armé.
  • Hennebique 1890 –1914. Paris 1999.
  • Adrian Forty: Concrete and Culture. A Material History. London 2012.
  • Christoph Hackelsberger: Beton: Stein der Weisen? Nachdenken über einen Baustoff. Braunschweig 1988.

Gustav Haegermann: Vom Caementum zum Spannbeton. Beiträge zur Geschichte des Betons. Bd. 1–3.




Tasks of contemporary organic design

D. Cardinal – National Museum of American Indian, Washington DC, USA, 2004  – © L.Fiumara

 

Changes in architecture and in society

For many decades, from the time of its emergence, organic architecture was an antithesis to the prevailing functionalism and the materialistic-scientific thinking associated with it. The differences between the two streams were also clearly recognisable on a formal level, in fact so recognisable that many – especially lay people – mainly distinguished the external features, often without knowing what the difference in content was. For this reason, organic architecture was and still is mistakenly seen by many as an outward style rather than an approach. Even some organic-minded architects have more or less consciously fallen into this mood and have made little effort to deepen the intentions and backgrounds, sometimes only imitating certain formal solutions of the masters. Already with postmodernism, however, the situation has fundamentally changed. The search for more humane, lively and healthy solutions has led several architects, in different ways, to incorporating aspects of the organic approach into their own working methods. Topics that were and are taboo for the functionalists, such as the appearance of the living (in Rudolf Steiner’s words) or individual expression in buildings, can today be more prominent in the work of star architects who do not see themselves as being „organic“ – such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and others – than in the work of the organic designers. From the nineties onwards, one can observe a strong, general tendency towards the creation of organism-like buildings. This phenomenon has raised a strong question of self-understanding among organic architects, a question that, in my opinion, has not yet received a clear answer.
In parallel with the aforementioned tendency, however, one can perceive, after the end of postmodernism, a new powerful minimalist and conceptual wave in world architecture, which is certainly in absolute majority on the plan of the numbers of realised buildings.
On the cultural and social level, one finds a similar situation: on the one hand, growing spiritual currents that reach into mass culture (see films such as „Cloud Atlas“ on the theme of reincarnation or entire series of Buddhist-inspired films), and on the other hand, the ever-increasing prevalence of material values and the materialistic way of thinking in art, science and everyday life.
It is not meant that the tendencies in society find a direct and clear expression in architecture. What is common is the appearance of a strong polarisation both in society and in architecture, so that today we can no longer talk about a mainstream (like functionalism in the past) and a small niche that is little noticed by the public (like organic architecture at that time), but about a struggle between comparably strong impulses that take hold of the whole of society.
In organic architecture, too, one can see comparable processes in the last 20 years, with the emergence of a fairly widespread “organic minimalism” – partly also due to economic and regulatory conditions – on the one hand, and the interest, sometimes with public success – as in the case of Gregory Burgess, Javier Senosain, Douglas Cardinal, Santiago Calatrava – for distinct and even intensified, formally recognisable organic solutions on the other. It is also worth noting that even the term “organic architecture” has experienced an increasingly broad resonance and application.

S.Calatrava – Stadelhofen station, Zurich, Switzerland, 1990 – © L.Fiumara

Needs behind the time phenomena 

The situation described poses various challenges for organic architects.
The interest in many aspects of organic design and the adoption of its approaches in several examples of contemporary architecture speak about a partly conscious, partly unconscious urge in a certain number of our contemporaries. This urge includes, synthesizing, the experience of spiritual and essential qualities, the search for a meaningful relationship between buildings and their surroundings, the creation of a space that is individually designed according to the function of the building and supports both the soul life and the life forces, to name only the most striking points. Today, these aspects appear sometimes together, sometimes separatedly, in the case of clients who are not explicitly looking for an organic design for ideological reasons. I could name several cases from my own experience where people who have no design or anthroposophical background, after encountering examples of organic architecture, recognise them as the expression of their deep-seated desires. What often amazes me in this context is people’s ability to experience and describe the qualities of architecture. There are a many clients who are amazingly good at observing the effect buildings have on them. This characteristic, which is widespread today and which I believe is connected with the general development of humanity, demands of architects a corresponding awareness and the ability to respond to the specific, exterior and inner needs of each individual, and to connect them with the general needs of people today, because every building, even if planned for a specific client, always has a public side and is a part of the urban organism. The perception of the spiritual-essential in architecture, for example, is one of the most important aspects that can satisfy the modern need for the development of individuality. This is the reason why it appears more and more often, even intuitively or unconsciously, outside the organic movement. Similar things can be said with regard to qualities such as the dynamic, the appearance of the living, the transformation of form (if not directly metamorphosis), the experience of polarities and many other things. All these aspects can be traced back to the need for spiritual development of the human being, because they help to form the inner abilities that are necessary for a conscious perception of the spiritual.

The need to develop new abilities

If one wants to meet the needs mentioned above as an architect, one must oneself develop a sense for the qualities and processes described. This was already the case in the beginnings of organic design, and one can see how its pioneers tried in various ways to immerse themselves in the spiritual content of the world. Today, however, this call is even stronger, because the search for spiritual knowledge and even the development of supersensible perceptive abilities – as already indicated earlier – are present in ever broader layers of our society. The tendency, which is often also found among architect-anthroposophists, not to underline or not to mention at all in public the satisfaction of spiritual needs through organic design – perhaps because of the fear of not being understood or accepted – leads to an incomplete and thus unconvincing picture of the aims of organic architecture. For the purpose of developing a contemporary organic approach, it is first and foremost necessary to reconsider its tasks in the light of the times. If one does this, one also easily comes to the realisation that the endeavour to fulfil such tasks depends on the designer’s ability to delve into the deeper layers of reality, which are connected with life, soul and spirit forces. This concerns, for example, the understanding of the clients in their soul constitution and in their destiny and development potential, the understanding of the place with its life forces and spiritual beings, the understanding of the function of the building not only in its physical aspects, the understanding of the time situation and of the cultural environment in which the project will be embedded and much more.
It is precisely in this intention to perceive the world and the building task with all its facets and conditions on the various levels, from the physical to the spiritual, that I think the main difference lies, between organic and especially anthroposophically-inspired architecture and other approaches, which however sometimes also, mainly unconsciously, reach similar results.
In addition to the perceptual abilities that everyone carries in one’s own constitution, new ones can be developed through practice and with the help of experience. This is a large part of the work of those who want to design organically. This does not mean that organic design is not possible without supersensible perceptions, though. Thinking itself is already a supersensible activity, and the question is to what extent one can bring it to life in order to come to the perception of spiritual connections. Something similar can be said about feeling, which – through liberation from emotions and subjectivity – can also become an instrument of perception. At every stage of personal development, the architect can strive to experience as best he can the supersensible aspects of the building task. It is important to understand that humanity is still at the beginning of developing new perceptual abilities, but that it is therefore important to strive for this development. The same is required in all fields: in medicine, in pedagogy, in agriculture, etc.
The topic of developing perceptual skills is particularly relevant in the context of the theme of positive contemporary design, because this is only possible through a genuine and conscious experience of the changing spirit of  the time. Imitation or, at best, re-creation based on the work of the pioneers of the organic movement, who had a clear perception of the necessities of their times, could lead to results corresponding to the spirit of the time as long as it had not changed too much. Today, contemporary design based on older examples is no longer possible; it requires independent and well-founded insights.

The appearing of being-like qualities (in German „Wesenhaftes“; expression of an individual being) in architecture

One example of this kind of observation – in addition to the tendency towards the appearance of organisms in contemporary architecture mentioned at the beginning – is the emergence of being-like qualities in the interior of buildings. Very striking in this sense is the drop-like ceiling of the hyperboloid part of the BMW Erlebniswelt in Munich by Coop-Himmelb(l)au. Looking at it, one can have the impression that an alien, mysterious being is descending into the space. You get a comparable effect in Frank Gehry’s DZ Bank in Berlin, where a wild figure appears in the courtyard of a fairly conventional building. I believe that such solutions are connected with the increasingly frequent occurrence of supernatural experiences in the consciousness (the interior) of people today and with the longing for them. One can come to this insight with a certain degree of certainty if one looks at the examples mentioned in connection with other phenomena in culture, e.g. films such as “Matrix” or “The Lord of the Rings”. An example of organic design where an attempt is made to connect to this need is, in my opinion, the festivel hall of the Rudolf Steiner School in Salzburg by Jens Peters. In the middle of the lazured undulated ceiling there is a translucent oval that lets in light and that can be perceived as an immaterial apparition in the flood of colours. The big difference with the BMW building is that the brightness of the oval and its embedding in the lazure have more of a friendly and joyful quality, in contrast to the armour-like, wormy and dark character of the drop of Coop-Himmelb(l)au. Thus, a similar approach gives different results depending on what mood of being the designer has connected with. This does not mean any judgement of the different solutions given the different contexts.

Coop Himmelb(l)au – BMW Welt, Munich, Germany, 2007 – © L.Fiumara

BPR – Festival hall of the Rudolf Steiner School, Salzburg, Austria – © M.Lohl

Transparency in the interiors

Another example of the changing spirit of time can be the growing transparency within buildings and the possibility of looking through different layers of space simultaneously. The Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart by UN-Studio – like other projects by Ben van Berkel – is designed according to these principles. From each loop of the three-leaf ramp, one gains ever new insights into the other opposite loops through the central triangular space. At the edge of the ramp, at the outermost points, vertical visual connections with the lower levels also open up through glazing. The transparency and visual penetration of space can lead to an experience of the possibility of inner looking and the penetration of different layers of the soul and spirit, which certainly corresponds to a growing need – just think of the development and spread of psychology and psychoanalysis – of the present day. First attempts in this direction in the organic field can be found in the 60s – 70s in the work of Giovanni Michelucci, most strongly in the church of Borgomaggiore (Republic of San Marino), and of Hans Scharoun, especially the foyer of the Berlin Philarmonic Hall. A closer example in time that addresses the visual penetration of spaces is the Weleda administration building in Schwäbisch-Gmünd by the BPR office in Stuttgart. Here, too, one can look from the upper floor through glazing onto the atriums below, which connect several floors vertically, and through another glazing into the open air and onto opposite parts of the building. One can even see the interior behind the glass façade of the conference hall. Thus the view deepens through four layers of space and three glazings, from the inside to the outside into the open air and then back inside again.

BPR – Weleda Headquarters. Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany – © L.Fiumara

Satisfying soul and spiritual needs

The special nature of organic architecture’s approach to the tendencies of the time should again lie in the deepening of its spiritual foundations and in the attempt to grasp and unfold the developmental aspects of such tendencies. This makes it possible not only to passively go along with the general trends, but sometimes to turn them in new directions or to balance out one-sidedness.
An example of this can be seen in the possible attitudes towards the resurgence of minimalism and “objectivity”, which in recent years has been largely related to issues of energy efficiency and economy of means. This has led to the emergence of a largely soulless architecture and, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, has greatly influenced the organic design of recent decades. It repeats – under different conditions – the process that led to the spread of rationalism partly for economic reasons. In this case, the task of the organic designer can be to show how one can create buildings – with consideration for the new demands – that satisfy the soul and spiritual needs of people. Even Rudolf Steiner was already concerned with this question when he designed the Schuurman House and the Transformer House in Dornach. With Frank Lloyd Wright one can also find this concern – especially in the Usonian Houses. The work of Erik Asmussen and the later designs of Winfried Reindl were the first attempts in the anthroposophical field to find a balance between organicism and minimalism.
However, I would not think that this direction is the only possible one for our time. The examination of the reduction of means and the language of form is one pole of contemporary architecture. On the other hand, more and more complicated and expressive, sometimes wild designs are being created today. This belongs to our time just as much as reduction, and organic architects can also deal with this in order to combine the expressive power, which was already noticeable in its most extreme manifestation at the beginning of the 20th century with Hermann Finsterlin, and which – thanks to technical progress – can be even realised today, with an awareness of human needs and of the spiritual in the world. The projects of Douglas Cardinal and Gregory Burgess are examples of this possibility, as they allow an expressive design to emerge from the function and context of the building.

Winfried Reindl (Portus Bau) – Waldorf School, Offenburg, Germany – © L.Fiumara

These brief references to features of the period are only small examples to illustrate the approach outlined. I am convinced that an important task of organic architects today is to delve more and more into understanding the developments of society and to engage in a kind of exploratory conversation with each other on the subject, in order to complement the different points of view and perceptions. This can form a basis in terms of content and ideas for a joint effort in the modern world.

Published in M+A 99-100, 1/2019




Architecture and Spirit of the Time – Encounters with beings in the built environment

Rudolf Steiner – Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, 1924 – © L.Fiumara

Ego and Individuality

From the beginning of the Renaissance until the end of the 19th century, mankind became more and more involved and connected with earthly matter. At the same time, a new quality in human development emerged – the development of human individuality – which was already predisposed in Greco-Roman times, but only became generally effective since the Renaissance. When we ask ourselves today what is the spiritual dimension in architecture, it is directly related to the spiritual situation of humanity, which is connected to the theme of the individual development of man in our time.

Donato Bramante (c. 1444-1514), who as one of the most important architects of the Renaissance was commissioned to build the new Church of St. Peter in Rome (from 1506), had in mind for this church – that is, for the most important building task of Christianity at that time – the ideal of creating a combination of the principle of the basilica with its arches and naves (Maxentius Basilica, 307-313 A.D.) and the principle of the central space such as the Pantheon in Rome (consecrated c. 125 A.D.). In the Pantheon, one felt oneself placed in the centre of space for the first time. Even the central axes of the pyramid-like coffers of the dome converge not at the centre of the hemisphere, but at the centre of the floor, i.e. where the visitor stands. It is certainly no coincidence that the Pantheon was not dedicated to a particular god, but to “all the gods”, so that one could experience oneself in this way at the centre of the whole divine world. This central space, however, is still conceived as a temple and does not have the direction of movement associated with the basilica as a longitudinal building. Bramante now wanted to unite these two principles. Thus, in the Renaissance, a certain new quality of individuality emerged that had not existed before: on the one hand, the experience of the self in the centrality, and on the other hand, the dynamic of movement, the striving of the individual in a certain direction.

These are, of course, beginnings that did not immediately blossom because the interest in matter and towards the external manifestations of nature, especially in the 18th/19th centuries, tended to hinder it. So we cannot say that the process of individualisation in the sense of a connection with the spiritual moved steadily forwards, but one can see in the Renaissance and Baroque, for example in the work of Borromini (1599-1667), the beginnings of an organic thinking and expression in architecture, above all in Borromini’s approach to learning from the laws of living nature.

The architecture of the 19th century with its eclecticism is an extreme expression of excessive subjectivity, whereby the individual orders a house that corresponds to his dreams, wishes and taste. The contrast between the Batlló House in Barcelona (1904-1906) by Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) and the roughly contemporary neighbouring building by Domenèch i Montaner (1850-1923) shows that we have arrived at a time when everyone can wish for whatever they want if they only have the necessary money and if it is permitted by law. This raises the question of the freedom of individuality or egoism that wants to develop in a time when religious and social forms are losing more and more of their power.

A.Gaudí – House Batlló, Barcelona, Spain, 1904 (on the left, house by L.Domenèch i Montaner) – © L.Fiumara

A.Gaudí – House Batlló, Barcelona, Spain, 1904 (on the left, house by L.Domenèch i Montaner) – © L.Fiumara

If the human being does not give any particular thought to this new condition, it is often the case that other forces replace the impulse and try in various ways to steer its further development in certain directions. Some, very widespread manifestations of contemporary architecture are expressions of forces that would rather retard the expression of individuality and prevent mankind from becoming aware of its individual essence. Through repetition, anonymity and monotony in the environment, mankind is influenced in such a way that the actual sense of individuality is clouded.

There are other forces that are trying to strengthen egoism so that the ego becomes self-possessed, addicted to power and too closely attached to the earth. In the Torre Agbar by Jean Nouvel (*1945), an office and residential building in Barcelona built in 2004, one can see an extreme expression of pride and arrogance. It is not a sacred building, but it is nevertheless as tall as Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia (begun in 1882) and dominates its surroundings even more. The sense of power that radiates from this building is interestingly associated with a colourfulness that is reminiscent of something like organic life substances, whose appearance is, however, not entirely healthy. When you see this building from a distance, you have the feeling that blood is flowing over the surface – a very powerful sensual impression indeed.

J.Nouvel – Agbar Tower, Barcelona, Spain, 2005 – © L.Fiumara

There is another way in which this hypertrophied egoism seeks to manifest itself in buildings. It does not take such an aggressive approach as with the Agbar Tower, but creates elements of entertainment architecture. This architecture is usually created by large offices like Atkins Design Studio, which today work with hundreds of employees mainly in countries like the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia and create such images – they are actually more images than concrete buildings – that have the task of satisfying emotional needs for playful qualities, superficial amusement and ever new surprises.

On a smaller scale, such approaches can also be found in Europe. A new building district in Amsterdam near the central station shows the effort to create a lively environment in which the separate houses are more individualised than usual – in other words, they pose the question of individuality and diversity. This is achieved with witty façade elements such as hanging windows, curved eaves, arbitrary differences in height, etc. These are all façade designs that, in my opinion, have little content, but are all the more driven by the intention to add a bit of wit. In principle, again, no impulse for a real inner satisfaction or even further development of the human being is discernible.

One can of course ask what is supposed to be bad about building with wit. I suspect that an inhabitant who is exposed to these “jokes” every day will not find them so funny after a short time, because they are too superficial and the user experiences a kind of weakening of his emotional life in the long run; for in the end, one’s own individuality is placed in constant relation to a mere joke. Such phenomena are most often found in Eastern Europe, such as the Nautilus shopping centre on the Lubjanka Square in Moscow. This example shows how many different elements, styles and games with shapes and colours can come together in one building as an expression of emotional streams. Basically, this is more or less the same eclecticism that appeared in Europe at the end of the 19th century. During my long stays in Eastern Europe, I observed that life itself becomes very superficial when people are always surrounded by such buildings.

A.Vorontsov – Shopping mall “Nautilus”, Moscow, Russia, 1999 – © L.Fiumara

At the beginning of the 20th century, pioneers of organic architecture like Antoni Gaudí felt the need to do something so that people could become aware of their own individuality and find support for their development through architecture. These pioneers tried to do this in different ways, each according to constitution and possibilities. At this point I do not want to analyse the work of these architects, but will try to show what approaches I see to meet these needs in the spirit of today’s times.

Reflection through the medium of architecture

A first possibility is the reflection of individuality through architecture, in that people are able to perceive an individual expression in a building and are thus drawn to experiencing their own individuality. In Antoni Gaudí’s Casa Milà (1906-1910), a large apartment building in Barcelona, the effort to give each window and corner a distinct individual expression is evident. This shows that even in such a building, which was not planned for one particular person but for a large number of families, the quality of the individual can be reflected.

A.Gaudí – House Milà, Barcelona, Spain, 1910 – © L.Fiumara

In a less plastic way, this can also be found in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). In the Unity Temple in Oak Park/Illionis (1904), one can perceive – despite the great simplicity of the volumes – the reflection of an individual attitude in the way the view along the street is designed. This is probably due to the fact that the central section is perhaps only 30 to 40 centimetres closer to the street than the lateral elements, and that the proportions of the façade give the impression that the upper section, with its windows and eaves, seems to be looking out from the building. Such qualities can be experienced even more strongly in the later works of Frank Lloyd Wright, such as the Unitarian Church in Madison, Wisconsin (1947).

F.L.Wright – Unity Temple, Oak Park (IL), USA, 1904 – © L.Fiumara

F.L.Wright – Unitarian Church, Madison (WI), USA, 1951 – © L.Fiumara

Apart from the pioneers of this movement, one can find many buildings throughout the 20th century that exhibit the qualities mentioned, such as the towers of the ING Bank by Alberts & Van Huut in Amsterdam (1987). In this case, the type of design is also linked to the intention of individualising the towers so that, despite the size of the complex, the different groups of employees can identify with their own place of work, in contrast to the anonymity usually found in office buildings. This approach can also be found very strongly in many of Santiago Calatrava’s works, such as the extension to the Milwaukee Art Museum (1994-2001), where, compared to the ING Bank, one can perceive on the outside a stronger dynamic, a quality of movement.

This building in particular leads us to a second aspect, to what extent an interior can also offer an opportunity to reflect individuality, for the perception of the view is, after all, only a first moment in the encounter with a building. When I dealt with the subject of interiors on the occasion of a lecture, I was amazed to notice how there is also a basic principle in interior design throughout the 20th century that has to do with Bramante’s idea, but which was only able to spread in the 20th century. We can see this exemplified in the pavillion of the Milwaukee Museum, a space that widens from the entrance to about the middle of its total length and then narrows again, coming to a conclusion (in this case with a peak). This creates a sense of the connection between centrality and dynamism: one moves in the direction of the axis of symmetry, one comes to an experience of widening and then of centre, but one does not remain in the centre (as in the Pantheon), but one moves on, one gets an impulse to develop further, to overcome pure egoism. This is a spatial principle that runs as a leitmotif through the entire organic architecture of the 20th century.

S.Calatrava – Quadracci Pavillion, Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee (WI), USA, 2001 – © L.Fiumara

An archetype of this, or one of the earliest spaces of this kind, is the hall of the second Goetheanum, which opens towards the stage and contains within itself the idea of the double dome or the interpenetration of audience and stage space. The spatial interpenetration in Gaudí’s Cripta Güell, which is not derived from the Goetheanum, shows that motifs appeared simultaneously in various places at the beginning of the 20th century as an expression of the Time Spirit.

Inner attitude and design quality

So far I have talked about reflections of individuality. There can also be a reflection or more an inner perception of this quality in the interior. The aspect of development can unfold even more expressively through metamorphosis and through the transformation of forms, as can be seen in the exterior of the second Goetheanum or in the interior of the first. Architects like Jens Peters have tried to convey the sense of development in their buildings. In the Waldorf School in Salzburg (1st building phase 1991-1994, 2nd building phase 2008; cf. Mensch+Architektur no. 61/62) the various parts are obviously in a process of development and transformation, although in this case, I think, there is no metamorphosis as in the forms of the first Goetheanum. That is to say, through this design the aspiration, the impulse towards development can be experienced, also through the design of the roofs and through the whole movement of the building.

BPR -Rudolf-Steiner-Schule, Salzburg. Austria – © L.Fiumara

Another aspect besides the reflection of individuality and the stimulation of its development is the conveying of inner attitudes which, after all, support inner development. This is about feeling the expression of the building more deeply and consciously and connecting it with certain soul qualities. This basically means that an architect who strives for something like this must also be able to sense the inner attitudes that enable development or a connection to the spiritual. For if one accepts that an individuality exists as a being, one inevitably comes to the conclusion that this development of the individuality is in inner connection with the other beings in the world, which can also be called “the spiritual”. For this reason Rudolf Steiner describes anthroposophy as a path of knowledge which seeks to lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe of the world. This means that individuality, which through the centuries has increasingly separated itself from the spiritual and increasingly connected itself with matter, must again find access to the spiritual. That is the perspective of development. Architecture can carry qualities and attitudes that are helpful for people to move forward on this path.

In the Bergen Kindergarten (1981), a design by Espen Tharaldsen, we can perceive an attitude of love, a gesture of love that is expressed through this building and can really be taken up by people as an example of how to relate to the environment and to fellow human beings. Another quality is, for example, openness to the world, as expressed in the view from the main road in the House of Culture in Järna (1992) by Erik Asmussen (1913-1998). The building, which stretches horizontally in the landscape, opens up to the whole environment and shows two tower-like elements on the two sides, which reinforce these movements through the vertical accents and bring them to a conclusion in a kind of awareness.

E.Asmussen – Culture House, Järna, Sweden – © L.Fiumara

 Architecture as an aid to spiritual scholarship

Understanding these qualities helps to describe the intentions and characteristics of organic architecture in a non-dogmatic way and to compare it with other approaches. An objective evaluation of architecture needs a concrete basis, which I believe can only lie in observing the impact of buildings on human development. For me, the topicality of Rudolf Steiner’s architecture (1861-1925) lies precisely in the fact that buildings such as the Goetheanum combine many of the qualities mentioned to the highest degree. For example, Rudolf Steiner incorporated into the exterior design of the second Goetheanum (from 1924) the fundamental attitudes necessary for a person embarking on the path of spiritual training or inner development. If you let the impression from the west elevation live in you long enough, you will realise that it radiates an inner attitude that is connected with the qualities of spiritual discipleship. One aspect, for example, is the combination of concentration and individual power, especially thanks to the shape of the upper window and the vertical axis of symmetry; the other is the great openness that one finds especially in the lower area at the level of the terrace. This building combines the two qualities of the soul that are presented in Rudolf Steiner’s book ‘Knowledge of Higher Worlds’ as fundamental prerequisites for the training of the spirit: “an open heart for the needs of the outer world” and “inner firmness and unshakeable perseverance”. In this sense, the Goetheanum is actually an object in whose expression one can immerse oneself in order to acquire some qualities that one needs to strengthen in one’s own development.

Rudolf Steiner – Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland, 1924 – © L.Fiumara

The same can be said about many other buildings. In the Unity Temple by Frank Lloyd Wright that I mentioned, you find to a certain extent the quality that you find in the second Goetheanum and also, in my opinion, an amazing similarity in the expression of the two buildings, in the way they look, in the inner attitude that they convey. This means that both architects must have had a similar feeling for this quality of looking into another world, into a supersensible realm.

Dealing with the Expression of Beings

I would like to mention one last level with the help of which one can find access to the spiritual. It concerns the formation of an environment in which the human being not only perceives his own individuality, but in which he feels that he is also surrounded by other spiritual beings, where he can train himself to perceive other entities besides himself and his fellow human beings. Especially in the case of the heating plant of the Goetheanum in Dornach, built in 1914 according to Rudolf Steiner’s designs, it can be noticed that it is not about a reflection of human individuality, but about the expression of another quality of the spiritual. From this point of view, the Goetheanum and the surrounding buildings by Rudolf Steiner can be seen as a kind of colony of different Beings connected with each other.

Rudolf Steiner – Goetheanum power plant, Dornach, Switzerland, 1913 – © L.Fiumara

Something similar can be said about the railway station of the Saint-Exupéry airport in Lyon (1989-1994) by Santiago Calatrava. There is also something of a non-human nature to experience, without wanting to judge whether it is good or bad. Nevertheless, one can feel directly that something that lies outside his humanity is coming towards the observer. In connection with the building task, this can also be an expression of the essence of a community, e.g. the essence of a school. This attitude can not only appear in the main design of a building, but also in details, such as in the railway station mentioned above, where many elements speak of a quality thorugh which people are constantly confronted with different entities, e.g. through the finishing elements of the stair railings. The interesting thing is that in recent years these aspects have become more and more widespread even among architects who did not strive for it from the beginning.

S.Calatrava – St.Exupéry Airport Station, Lyon, France, 1994 – © L.Fiumara

I think this phenomenon has to do with the fact that the spirit of the time is being felt more and more strongly by architects and people in general today. This is happening because of the development we have gone through in the last century and also in connection with what Rudolf Steiner described as the “crossing of the threshold” of the spiritual world for all humanity at the beginning of the 20th century. This is a process that is becoming stronger and stronger with time. But one also notices that without sufficient awareness of the true needs of mankind, this feeling of the spirit of the age shows itself or embodies itself in a form that is not always conducive to man. One has the need to perceive something individual-spiritual, but this takes on all kinds of forms, all kinds of qualities, which are also random or wild (as for example in the interior of the DZ Bank on Pariserplatz in Berlin by Frank Gehry). Last but not least, there can also be harmful effects if this spiritual quality is not consciously grasped.

Besides many examples of dynamic projects by Gehry, Foster or Zaha Hadid, we see an increasingly strong hardening in architecture, where the focus is rather on materialistic functionality and the purity of forms. Much of what is built today, especially in Central Europe, is characterised by a strong feeling of death, even in the choice of materials (mostly steel, concrete and glass) and colours (preferably grey, white or brown). This tendency is based on a world view that sees the development of technology as the main feature and essential cultural factor of our time. Even Le Corbusier was enthusiastic about the aesthetics of the machine at the beginning of the 20th century and called his designs for houses “machines for living”, thus pointing in a direction that gradually leads to the exclusion of all living qualities from architecture. In my opinion, this is the expression of a great fear in the human souls of the spiritual and of the unpredictable.

This kind of architecture has also exerted a certain influence on organic architects, whether for economic reasons, or because of the regulations that do not allow anything else (which is indeed the case in many occasions), or because one simply wants to adapt to what is considered modern in the world. Certainly, an interest for the tendencies that live in our time is necessary, but together with this serious preoccupation, one needs a living and conscious relationship with the essence of the spirit of time in order not to fall into one of the extremes and in order to be able to contribute something positive. That is why I wanted to show that for me this aspect is quite essential for the further development of human beings.

          Published in M+A, 8/2009