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.

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