A building has many lives especially when it is marked as real architecture. Destroy it and the city becomes consumed by guilt in the loss of its functional opportunity. There are many untold reasons for the destruction of architecture much as mythology leads to the death of the architect, but time becomes a good healer and the site of content is dramatically guarded by the post-cursors of the profession.
A fine example that is worthy of note for its own political maelstrom is The Großes Schauspielhaus (Great Theater) that was a theatre in Berlin, Germany, often described as an example of expressionist architecture, designed by Hans Poelzig for theatre impresario Max Reinhardt The structure was originally a market built by architect Friedrich Hitzig, and it retained its external, gabled form. It then became the Zirkus Schumann, a circus arena. It was renovated by Poelzig and reopened in 1919, contained seating for 3500 people. Max Reinhardt wanted to attract a working-class audience. The large size allowed for people who could pay top prices for the best seats to support low-cost seats, in the back of the theatre.
The Nazi’s took over in 1933 and changed its name to Theatre of the People. They described the building as an example of Entatete Kunst and refurbished it interior by adding a hung ceiling to hide the stalactite forms. After World War II, it was used for variety shows under the name of Friedrichstadt Palast until 1988, when it was condemned and demolished. There was a strong subsidence of the foundation and moulding of the supporting piles.
The theatre of architecture contained by this site continued in 1992 with the concept of an inhabited Moebius band derived by the architect Peter Eisenman that was radically declined by Berlin’s Building Director Hans Stimmann as synonymous with a vertical vulva.
Much has happened since then, to the work of Peter Eisenman in Berlin, who has now derived a monument to the theatre of the Holocaust inaugurated in 2005, but this is no replacement for the past but perhaps a framework for the architecture that we are missing; the grand visionary architectural ideas of the French Neo Classicists; the cosmic narratives of Rosenkreutz and his colleagues; Piranesi...
So there is a narrative that attains theatrical proportions used in the name of architecture that equates destruction with the eventual rising of the Phoenix. It is up to us to maintain the clarity of the architectural vocabulary and not be turned by personal style. Architecture is structured to behave within the relative bounds of gravity. It is up to each architect to determine what is deemed to be relative.