Art in Architecture

Florian Dombois with the model of his winning design.Florian Dombois with the model of his winning design.Potsdam – The “Kunst am Bau” art in architecture competition for the inner courtyard of the new Landtag building on the Alter Markt in Potsdam was brought to a successful conclusion with the selection of three prize winners. Today, the Ministry of Finance and the Landtag of the Land of Brandenburg presented the winning designs chosen by the jury after its final meeting. It is expected that the winning design will be put into execution in the inner courtyard of the new Landtag in the second half of 2013.

The first prize went to Florian Dombois from Cologne for “Zugabe” (“Encore”), a work with two illusionary pavilions derived from the central oval of Sanssouci Palace. Florian Dombois’ work plays on perspective and distortion, on their past and present significance; one of its central themes is the contemporary notion of site specificity and the “anything-can-be-moved” mindset. Dombois’ work of art thus steps outside the courtyard of the new Landtag building into a dialogue with the palaces and gardens that are a feature of the city.

When making its judgment, the jury emphasised that the work submitted by Florian Dombois in the first phase was essentially a new design, and that its powers of persuasion were greatly enhanced in every respect as a result. Designed after a specific pattern, it is an open and light setting that dispenses with any compact building dimensions and invites you to approach almost as a backdrop. The construction and pictorial quality of the two illusionary pavilions interact with the actual historical site and its reconfiguration and create new contemporary features.

The intellectual transformation of the original structure devised by the artist appears to have succeeded: by using the respective patterns in combination with the oval floor plan and adapting the pillar construction more or less at ground level, he manages to shift perspectives and dimensions. The choice of materials not only underlines the man-made character but also, from a distance, the originality.

Annette Paul of Potsdam was in second place with the words “Ceci n’est pas un chateau” in gold lettering on the inner courtyard facade of the new Landtag building. In her work the artist makes reference to a famous picture of a pipe by Rene Magritte, beneath which are the words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”. Magritte expounds the problems of imagery: the painted pipe is only a picture and not the object. The artist transplants this predicament to the new Landtag building in a persuasive manner, since the latter is not a palace (Ceci n’est pas un chateau).

Third place was taken by Hester Oerlemans of Berlin with the work “Ein neuer Garten” (“A new garden”. The artist creates a new garden in the form of two areas of garden flooring inside the inner courtyard of the Landtag in reference to the design language of the 17th and 18th centuries. These use synthetic grass to replace the lawns planned by the building contractor, which are similar to their historical predecessors. The garden flooring is designed along the lines of baroque-style ornamentation; it is placed in a new context by using contemporary symbols from the field of computer hardware.

Leonie Baumann, the chair of the jury and Principal of the Berlin Weissensee School of Art, said of the result of the two-stage competition: “The selection of the work “Zugabe” by Florian Dombois concludes a process of intensive engagement with 100 designs in the first phase and eleven in the second – public engagement with the work “Zugabe” will begin and then help the people of Brandenburg to identify with the new building as their very own Landtag.”

In its first meeting in early March 2012, the jury had selected eleven designs from the 100 pieces of work received. These were further elaborated by their creators in the second phase of the competition. It was then up to the jury to choose one or more proposals from the eleven remaining works for the artistic design of the Landtag inner courtyard.

Gerrit Grosse, Vice-President of the Landtag and chair of the Art and Amenities Commission, said of the successful conclusion to the competition procedure: “On behalf of the Landtag, I would like to express our thanks and compliments to all the artists for their participation and for the outstanding results. We are delighted at the great interest shown in the competition and were repeatedly impressed by the creativity and variety of all 100 pieces of work submitted. I would like, however, to draw particular attention to the originality, the sheer quality of the design and the concise nature of the eleven works that were further refined by their creators during the second phase of the competition.”

Ingrid Mattern, the press spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance – which sponsored the competition – declared: “A total of 480,000 euro (gross) is available for producing the works of art. This makes the “Kunst am Bau” scheme for the new Landtag building the biggest competition of its kind in the state during this legislative period.”

The total prize money was 28,000 euro, with 11,333 euro being awarded for first prize, 9,333 euro for second prize and 7,333 euro for third prize.

The eleven designs from the second phase of the competition will be presented in public during an exhibition in the Landtag after the summer recess.

Background information:

The jury:

Alongside Gerrit Grosse and Leonie Baumann, the jury included representatives of all the parliamentary groups in the Landtag, the Landtag administration and the Ministry of Finance, as well as a number of experts:

  • Prof. Brigitte Rieger-Jähner, Director of the Museum of Young Art (Museum Junge Kunst) in Frankfurt (Oder)
  • Prof. Michael Braum, Chairman of the Board of the German Building Culture Foundation (Bundesstiftung Baukultur)
  • Daniela Dietsche, Director of the Brandenburg Association of Visual Artists (Brandenburgischer Verband Bildender Künstler e.V.)
  • Maria Ossowski, Head of Culture at Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg
  • Barbara Steiner, freelance curator
  • Prof. Mischa Kuball, freelance artist
  • Sabina Grzimek, freelance artist
  • Prof. Peter Kulka, architect of the new Landtag


The competition was open to all and was held in two stages in keeping with the guidelines of the “Kunst am Bau” (art and architecture) scheme run by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development. In the first phase participants were asked to illustrate concepts that would enable the jury to make an anonymous selection of the designs with the greatest potential to be further developed in the second phase on the one hand, and to make recommendations for further refinements on the other. In the first phase 100 pieces of work were submitted. At its first meeting on 2 March 2012 the jury selected eleven works, which were then further refined by their creators during the second phase. The jury held its final meeting in the second phase of the “Kunst am Bau” competition on 13 June 2012, during which the winners were selected.

The first phase of the competition was carried out anonymously, whereas the identity of the judges was revealed in the second phase. A workshop for all those involved then presented an opportunity for the artists and the members of the jury to meet and talk face to face.

Kunst am Bau:

The Land of Brandenburg seeks to make a contribution to a high-quality built environment within the framework of state and state-funded structural engineering projects. A budget for art in architecture is therefore provided for public construction schemes. Project-related works of art created specifically for the site in question are designed to add cultural value to the location and to the architecture; they provide financial backing for art and culture in the Land at the same time.