“Another Kind of Knowledge”, a portrait of Danish architect Dorte Mandrup, encourages a sensual and intuitive relationship with the spaces one inhabits. The AIANY Women in Architecture Committee and the Architecture and Design Film Festival organized a screening of the film on March 29. To wrap up the film, ADFF director Kyle Bergman held discussions with Mandrup and the film’s co-director/producer, Marc-Christoph Wagner.
The first building introduced in the film, the Icefjord Center, serves both as a starting point and as a venue for artistic and scientific exhibitions. “The Ilulissat Icefjord Center is a building that needs to be understood in terms of the age of the landscape,” Mandrup recounts, to vast wide shots of the tundra intermingled with images of the building. “Greenland’s bedrock is the oldest in the world. We want the building to be seen as something from another era.
The center obviously fulfills Mandrup’s ambition. With a gently sloping roof that mirrors the gentle peaks of the surrounding rocks and icebergs, the Center feels overwhelmingly integrated with the terrain. It’s organic yet stiff, like bone, and in keeping with his signature style, distinctly informed by the landscape. Prior to the film, Mandrup proudly reflected on a major hallmark of building success: “People [have been] get married on the roof.
Mandrup looms over a number of its most impressive structures – a massive whale-watching center reminiscent of bowed whale flukes, a pair of recreation centers in an industrial part of Copenhagen, and the visitor center of UNESCO for Denmark’s largest national park with a thatch to match the park’s reed marsh – finishing on a building still under construction.
When the Exile Museum is complete, it will stand above the grave of the main, often involuntary exit point for Berliners during World War II, the Anhalter Bahnhof station. Its large facade will marry a fragment of the original portico, the last remaining ruin of the station. Far from evoking an imaginary pre-Anthropocene, the Exile Museum will place museum visitors in conversation with an uncomfortably tangible past. The mass is inspired by generic transit stations and the interior is constructed so that entry mimics arriving at a terminal. “We worked with the topography of space,” Mandrup explains, “so you move up, then you see the horizon, then you walk into the exhibit.” The museum’s main exhibition will detail the history of Central European exiles and will trace a common thread through contemporary crises of forced emigration.
Throughout the film, Mandrup insists on the value of listening to one’s “sensory apparatus” as a source of knowledge. She talks about the emphasis often placed on the cerebral articulation of ideas, her upbringing in a university house and all the way through architecture school, and how it took her a long time to trust ways to know and understand beyond language.
This can sometimes create an almost ironic tension in the film. “Another Kind of Knowledge” is a longer piece in a nearly decade-long ongoing film series released by the Louisiana Channel for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. The film is part of the channel’s ongoing project to make films strictly about artists and their art.
“I’m very Stalinist about it,” Wagner says wryly, in response to a question about why there are no other interviewees in the film. In practice, this means that much of the film sees Mandrup in her least favorite mode – speaking at length and extemporaneously – often about how she prefers other forms of communication to speech.
Although Mandrup prefers the visual to the verbal, she still enlightens viewers with architectural insight on topics ranging from how to modernize a water tower with attractive student accommodation, to anticipating the opening of a new one. building to the public. She remarks, “It’s a bit like sending your child to school on the first day, hoping that everyone sees their potential and that they make friends and grow.
After watching a film showcasing Mandrup’s amazing work, one is grateful that Mandrup has chosen to sublimate his wisdom into the kind of knowledge that supremely enriches the spaces we inhabit.