The University comes out of school to meet the people


© | The students leave the TUD by tram; they invade the city with the white blocks; they assemble the urban installation; the entrance of Central Station in the center of Darmstadt.

Sichten” is an exhibition of the faculty of architecture at the Technical University Darmstadt, Germany. It presents the students’ best works in the subject architecture and is the traditional final of the academic year and as this an institution. Being exhibited is a seal of quality for each student and the year’s highlight moreover. Accompanying each exhibition a catalogue is edited. This charts all presented works and furthermore contains articles concerning contemporary topics in general as well as thoughts towards the conception of the exhibition. In the year 1997 students of the architectural faculty took the initiative to found Sichten. Since then volunteer students gather yearly, responsible for all matters: They choose in their own discretion the students’ works to be exhibited, organize the show and look for the adequate show room, manage finances and find sponsors. One further challenge is the design and the publication of the exhibition catalogue.

All the business’ facets are transported somehow within the title of the exhibition. In German language the signifier “Sichten” expresses several significations. On the one hand Sichten simply implies the sensual perception by means of the eye. The same time the word describes the faculty of vision over longer distances (ship sighted) and the passively seen (view, perspective). But moreover Sichten includes ways of mental perception like judgment (insight) and opinion (sight; as I see it).
Sichten this year will have its ninth continuation. That this development can be called a success story becomes obvious by different aspects. First the number of visitors has increased steadily. Not least due to the reason that the exhibition opened up new locations and cities. The way from faculty campus via downtown Darmstadt towards the whole republic made the collection after all just now accessible to lots of interested. Besides the cities of Berlin and Düsseldorf so dignified institutions as the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt and the Architekturzentrum Hamburg became arena for the students’ exhibits. The catalogue, too, symbolizes the success of the enterprise Sichten. The exhibition’s publication expanded from a very modest booklet in 1997 to the handsome book of our days. This increasing extent can be traced back to the huge prefaces and essays added to the early day’s project descriptions by students, lecturers, professors and architects. Among other things the project-team enlarged progressively because these texts were published in German and English since 1999. One group of students devotes itself especially to the lay-out of the catalogue, hence from one team to the following a beauty contest can be observed. Additionally the perfection of the graphical design mirrors the computerization in the architect’s profession during the last decade, particularly in the field of plan and project presentation. Two aspects of the students’ to-does had to keep abreast of all this evolution and expansion: public relations and fundraising.


© | The setting up of the exibition

But now, what are the profits all the ambitious efforts are made for? Is organizing Sichten an end in itself, only being for the managers’ benefit? Surely not. By generating publicity the publicity profits as well. Concerning its focus groups the exhibition is not all too exclusive. Sichten is addressed to students, experts out of the field of architecture and interested amateurs. Professional architects may find information about both, newest trends as well as classical evolutions and besides they can keep a skeptical eye on tomorrow’s competitors. They can compare their own quality with contemporary university science. In search of epoch-making confessions students of other national universities will find the opportunity to weigh their scholars’ credos against teachings in Darmstadt. With Sichten especially amateurs have the seldom chance to experience without shyness or awe what constitutes architecture per se. Which variety is hidden behind this profession and line of business? How for example are engineering and art combined? How come as a result of one task several very different solutions about? Above all vernissage and finissage give way to communication. Questions may be raised, criticism placed and inspirations gained. For example students’ solutions and proposals have the influence to push urban development debates. The faculty of architecture and Darmstadt University benefit from the exposition as well, since both publicly show their profile, expertise, subjects of instruction and way to utilize taxes. But actually the students are the main profiteers of the representative annual highlight. Besides competition and inspiration they experience critique and appreciation, thus their drafts are not only made for the lecturer and the recycle bin. The institution Sichten examines already on an early stage the competitive capacity, necessary under contemporary market conditions, and the ability to pass and stand the publicity. Is a student chosen by his fellows for participating Sichten, so we practicing architects can compare this to being placed in a competition or receiving a building permission.


© | The setting up of the exibition.


Nikola Jarosch (architect) lives and works in Darmstadt. Born in Opava, Czechoslovakia, she studied architecture in Darmstadt (TUD) and New York (Cooper Union, Columbia). Before her exams she worked in project teams at Eisenman Architects’ and Rowen Architects’ (both N.Y.) as well as offices in Darmstadt and Frankfurt. After finishing her studies she worked self-employed and founded the office Jarosch. Architektur. In 2005 she started together with Yasemine Benhadj-Djilali (architect), Berlin, a co-operation for conceptual projects.

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