Pyramid, by… Germany?

Pyramid, Dessau, Germany (Copyright Friends of the Great Pyramid)
The site for the projected pyramid in Dessau, Germany (Copyright Freunde der Grossen Pyramide)

Thanks Geoff, I was just thinking about this project. In the Dutch media I read today the headline “Koolhaas chairman jury ‘Biggest Pyramid Ever’”. Bleaaah, that is not what this project is about. I suppose Koolhaas does like the pixel construction of the project. And wasn’t it Koolhaas that suggested that his design for a cruise terminal in Zeebrugge could be constructed by hand?; it would just take some people to work their whole lives building its concrete skin.

The idea of a couple of entrepreneurs from Dessau in eastern Germany is to make the biggest pyramid ever by stacking concrete square urns, each measuring a square meter and costing an estimated 700 euros. In the next decennia the pyramid would grow stone by stone to a height of about 450 meters, dwarfing the great Egyptian pyramids.

BLDGBLOG: “Your stone can even be “designed with any number of colors” – instantly transforming the misnamed Great Pyramid into a badly weathered mountain of tinted concrete, cracked and stained more and more every winter as it stands in the heart of an east German floodplain.” Is that cynicism, Mr. Menaugh? Why not suggest that in one hundred years tomb raiders are digging their way through the pyramid in search of treasures? 

From an esthetic point of view the pyramid is a horrible idea. The coloring could be really nice, but the location in my view is very wrongly chosen. It should be located on a site that would be proportionally to the scale of the project. I would suggest: the North Sea. And if the pyramid would dent the soil because of its weight, it would just drown itself a little.

Pyramid, Dessau, Germany (Copyright Friends of the Great Pyramid)
The coloring of the pyramid (Copyright Freunde der Grossen Pyramide)

The German government pays 90,000 euros for a feasibility study as the project is supposed to generate jobs. But if you are paying that money, why not ask for a proper location? Why not planning it next to a railway station where the ICE to Poland stops? Again a Bilbao-look-alike, without a proper thought about the context. Bilbao wasn’t done overnight!

Another question is obviously whether or not people would like to be buried in a concrete cube. It isn’t really returning into the earth. The size of the pyramid does a lot, it would be for instance a beautiful backdrop for a film, but does this stacking relate to the rituals of our culture? Will it be powerful enough to let a new rituals emerge? Problematic in my view would be the fact that the concrete cubes in the middle are not approachable by grievers. Personally I would not accept anything like that. But maybe others do.

I could talk about ecology in relation to the cubic meter concrete, or the shadow projected on the village next to the site, but that is not the scope of this blog. The iconography of the pyramid is again chosen because of its neutral connotations – its neither Christian, nor Muslim, nor Hindu, nor Jewish, because it is… pagan. Foster used the same argument for his pyramid in Kazakhstan. The entrepreneurs in Dassau suggest the pyramid will become a meeting point for all kinds of religions. How optimistic that may sound, the pyramidal form does have the virtues to sustain that claim. And with all these colors it would look rightly democratic – every color would represent a person.

I keep wondering why not a more sensible approach is chosen. For instance: why not create an artificial hill landscape from boxes of a degradable material, such as agricultural waste. Every 20 years a new layer could be added to the by than degraded landscape. The tombs would in the meantime be approachable by those who lost their loved-ones. Just as Daniel Libeskind won the WTC competition because his design focused on the remembrance of the terrorist attack, so does this proposal fail to exactly provide that. It is just too heroic.

Pyramid, Dessau, Germany (Copyright Friends of the Great Pyramid)
The site. Sketch-Up, I suppose? (Copyright Freunde der Grossen Pyramide)

Pyramid, Dessau, Germany (Copyright Friends of the Great Pyramid)
The Greater Pyramid (Copyright Freunde der Grossen Pyramide)

Related: Pyramid, by Herzog & de Meuron, Pyramid, by Foster, Pyramid, by Simpson, Pyramid, by Pei, Pyramid, by Baikdoosan, Pyramid, by Pareira, Pyramid, by Van der Hart

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