Friday, 18 September 2009

Back again!

Hi Suzy,
This blog has been much more round than barbaresi lately. I think your life has been a bit more exciting! Still, I've handed in my coursework and started catching up with the backlog now. I have a long to-do list, but there is light...

The photos of the Iraqi embassy are amazing. How on earth did you get access? Was it a private party? Its very interesting that the furniture, books and other paraphernalia are still there after so many years. Is there a lot of security around the building? Or do you think people are just wary?

Its fascinating to see buildings deteriorating slowly, becoming exposed, weathered, out-of-date. Most buildings which are in use change very frequently and their histories are quickly covered up with new layers of decoration or furnishings. This process seems to get faster and faster. I think my grandparents went through most of their lives with the same set of furniture but now most people respond to new fashions and tastes change within a few years. It is hard to find spaces and buildings that have been left alone. I think, for me, part of the appeal of going to the edge of the city for our project was to be in spaces that have been forgotten and allowed to change in slow and haphazard ways. There was also a sense of discovery in really looking at and absorbing places that are usually overlooked.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

DDR Iraqi Embassy

Hi Rachel,

Back in London now and catching up with stuff. Would like to tell you about our visit to a party at the old DDR Iraqi Embassy, before I forget. It is derelict but in a surprisingly good state considering it has been abandoned for 20 years. Both administrations were in free fall. DDR from the unification and then Iraq from the 1st gulf war in the early 90's. Due to a one-off agreement between the two socialist states this site in Pankow will be forever Iraqi. Apparently the German police can not enter it without Iraqi permission.

The building looks 60's with clean-line modernism. The grounds are an overgrown forest with trees popping up through the gates. Inside were lots of decaying 60's and 70's furniture, with some hints at more sinister uses like matted thick fibres presumably for soundproofing spilling out of a door, and an old manual typewriter with extensions on the keys that looked like they were for typing in code.

Everywhere were images and books celebrating Saddam Hussein. Matt picked up one with pictures of his family on a seaside holiday. There were piles and plies of books. It looks like it was left in a hurry just as it was with no-one packing up any of the documents. Thinking about our theme while looking at Thamesmead of how 60's and 70's architecture grows old, I guess the reasons for neglect or careful upkeep are crucial part of how they are in the present. This is a pretty dramatic example.