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Public Art Competition design:"The Anthropocene, stages of metamorphosis"

Berlin Palace,The  Anthropocene


The German Bundestag decided that the former Berlin Palace would be reconstructed as the Humboldt Forum, a centre of cultural encounter. A competition was

held to develop artistic interventions for the staircases above portals 1 and 5 at the Schlüter- courtyard. The design should deal thematically with the architecture, the history of the site and make a reference to the Humboldt's ideas.

Marjan Laaper (1971) made a design for the 2 two-story staircases above portals 1 and 5 in the Schlüter courtyard, the Berlin Palace, Germany. The title of her

design is called: “The Anthropocene, stages of metamorphosis”.

The Anthropocene defines earth’s most recent geologic time period as being human-influenced. The title refers to Alexander von Humboldt’s insights that social, economical and political (human) issues are closely connected to environmental problems, which disturbs nature’s order and causes environmental devastation. He saw how mankind unsettled the balance of nature by exploitation of natural

resources for men’s advantage only. Humboldt was driven by a sense of wonder for the natural world. He saw the world as one great living organism where everything

is connected as a great chain of causes and effects where all forces of nature are interlaced and interwoven.


wall, The anthropocene


The concept for the overall artwork, designed for the 2 two-story staircases and

voids above portals 1 and 5, is based on three starting points:

1.    A connection with the historical baroque façade, by using a baroque style for

the artwork.

2.    Alexander von Humboldt’s holistic concept of nature as one of global patterns, the interconnectedness between all aspects of nature.

3.    The scientific, cultural, technical and economical attitude of mankind, and its influence on nature.

The baroque style of the buildings exterior is the starting-point for the design on the inside of the building. The artwork is referring to traditional baroque wallpaper and sculptural design, combined with Alexander von Humboldt’s concept of nature as one of global patterns.

details ,anthropocen


Elements borrowed from nature, motifs from flora and fauna, cell tissues turning

into wallpaper. But also electronic circuits and cosmic phenomena like the stars are interwoven. Humboldt’s concept of interconnectedness integrated in the baroque ornamented design. It shows the unity of nature but also the influence of mankind

on it.  In the wallpaper design, the natural world is interwoven together with science and imagination, the particular and the whole, the factual with the wonderful.


wallpaper, anthropocene


The wallpaper-patterns in the two different staircases seemingly have the same outlook, but the patterns interwoven in the wallpaper are diverse and related to different geographical locations of the earth. For example the stars that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere can be seen in one staircase but the stars from the Southern Hemisphere can be seen in the other. Although the overall design of the

two staircases interconnected, the whole can never be seen all at once. This part of the design connects to Humboldt holistic view on nature.


hanging objects ,anthropocene


The 4 hanging objects in the void spaces are also related to baroque design.

They are made of bronze. The objects show the metamorphosis from a tree (nature) into a baroque designed chandelier (man made object). The “chandeliers” show 4 stages from nature to a human influenced version of nature. The baroque design symbolizes men’s understanding with nature and his influence on it. Nature verses ‘civilization’.


2 hanging objects tree , anthropocene


2 hanging objects lamp ,the anrthopocene