The city of Leipzig has gone by many names—’Messestadt’, ‘Reichsmessestadt’, ‘Heldenstadt’, ‘Boomtown vom Osten’, ‘Schrumpfendestadt’, and more recently the hyphenated ‘Hypezig’. These pet-names serve as an index of the city’s successive civic identities. Since Leipzig’s bombing in 1943, political regimes and architects have utilized these identities as a means through which to direct construction. Individual sites are marked by a frenetic churn of destruction, construction, and re-construction.
These interrupted civic identities leave the context of Leipzig indeterminate—with unraveling, overlapping, and competing projections of past and future. Each interrupted version has sought to produce a resolute clarity to Leipzig’s urban legibility, with building elevations serving as the primary registration of each attempt at identity resolution.
Equivocal Elevations proposes a Super Civic Service Center—building on the existing city-government institution of the Bürgerzentrum which provides public—to address the intersection of individual identity, city bureaucracy, and civic identity. Born out of the intense archival study of Leipzig, the elevations unearthed from site provide the architectural foundation for this new center. Elevations here do not propose a finite or shallow representation but instead equivocal relationships between histories and building, allowing elevation to both figure and be figured by the exterior and interior. By developing this method, the intent is to project a continued, open-ended irresolution to Leipzig’s identity while reflecting on the specificity of Leipzig’s numerous histories.
CLT is a large (9’ x 50’), and thick (up to 9in), sheet material. It is also a manufactured material, assembling layers of cross-laminated timber into a precisely machined rectangle via CNC technology. This gives CLT two unique properties as a building material: through its mass and scale it can be used simultaneously as a structural and spatial system, and the available thickness of the material presents opportunities for volumetric expression. The aim of the project was to investigate fully CLT’s capacity to be both an off-the shelf material, which can be used with minimal alteration to produce space, as well as customization of a CLT part to produce precisely machined geometries which express the tectonic and aesthetic possibilities of CLT.