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Gisela Baurmann
Studio at Princeton University



"The loop stitch is a noeud coulant: a knot that, if untied, causes the whole system to unravel. It is an element in making stockings, in kitting and crocheting, and the particular way it is formed is dictated by the tools employed and the use intended. [...] I can only say that it is an extremely refined [art] and yields products whose properties can be achieved in no other way. They carry the elements of their richest ornaments in themselves and in their construction. Elasticity and ductility are the specific advantage of this products; this makes them especially suited to close-fitting dressings that embrace the figure and define it without fold" --Gottfried Semper, 'Style', published in German 1860, Getty Publications (2004)

The studio aims to acquaint students with hyperbolic geometry and its possible manufacturing techniques. At the same time it addresses one of, if not, the most pressing issues of our time, namely climate-research. In experimental investigations a design strategy is devised that captures the spirit of innovation and scientific as well as social advancement, which drives sustainability research.


A series of exercises explores a rule-based design methodology through model making and analytical drawing techniques and serves as introduction to non-euclidian geometry. In an initial exercise the concept of creating complex spatial geometries is investigated through employment of a single line (thread). Crochet models and models of curved paper folding will serve as tactile means to explore hyperbolic geometry and its fabrication techniques.

Equipped with these inquisitive techniques, a series of exercises analyze connective moments in the surface of the Einstein tower Potsdam. The "Einstein tower detail" will be documented, examined and arrayed to generate a catalogue of possible spatial situations.

"I suggest then that a healthy ecology of human civilization would be defined somewhat as follows: a single system of environment combined with high human civilization in which the flexibility of the civilization shall match that of the environment to create an ongoing complex system, open-ended for slow change of even basic (hard programmed) characteristics." --Gregory Bateson, 'Steps to an Ecology of Mind' (1972)


Telegrafenberg is a Science Park located in the South of Berlin, Germany. It is home to several renowned scientific institutes and observatories. On the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam, a meteorological measuring field provides uninterrupted climate data since its inception in 1893. It is globally the only meteorological station with a comprehensive uninterrupted observation program for more than 100 years.


In October 2007, a group of 15 Nobel Prize winners gathered at the Telegrafenberg. Together they formulated a new global deal for sustainability, which included the idea of a new dedicated research institution. Subsequently, under guidance from the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), the Institute for Advanced Climate, Earth System and Sustainability Studies (IASS) was founded in May 2009. It will take its permanent home in the city of Potsdam in direct vicinity to Telegrafenberg campus.

At the same time PIK plans to expand its facilities on Telegrafenberg. Climate research is one area in which the statistical analysis of massive data sets is actively employed. The PIK studies the effects of global change on both environmental and social levels. At PIK, researchers in the natural and social sciences work together to study global change and its impacts on ecological, economic and social systems. They examine the Earth system's capacity for withstanding human interventions and devise strategies for a sustainable development of humankind and nature.


The project is to design a new meteorological measuring station for the PIK with the facilities to gather, organize and analyze the collected data, and to visualize it in computer-generated climate models. It will be part of the ensemble of historical buildings that constitute the PIK. From the scientists’ research paper:

The challenges of shaping our future world are breathtaking. At the same time, however, the cognitive abilities to deal with those challenges have dramatically grown in recent decades. It is vital to unite dispersed knowledge and shape it into a critical mass.

The PIK seeks to become one of the world's leading centers for research and discourse on sustainability issues. The comparative advantage of the institution would not lie in its size but in its "convening power."

"The Einstein Tower is a factor of time at the will of the object; with determination it strikes like a tremor and conquers the area by storm." --Bruno Zevi, 'Erich Mendelsohn' (1983)


Einstein Tower: The site for the station is directly adjacent to the Einstein Tower, widely regarded as the most prominent example of expressionist architecture [in the world]. Built in 1920, it is a sculptural expression that defines a unique formal language within the context of the emerging Modern Movement. At the same time, the tower is a precise scientific tool and remains in operation today.


Echoing the institute's primary research areas, the station design will strive to embody new sustainable building and fabrication strategies:

What is the spatial expression of a research institute that deals with the most imminent challenges of our times?
In the 1920s, the visible profile of the Einstein Tower was used for political gain. It was mediated as a symbol for a newfound German self-expression following World War I and meant to underscore the nation's leading role in scientific and cultural fields. The expansion to the PIK may claim to advance its architectural presence as a means of communicating to the world⎯this time with an agenda beyond national interests.


-Stephen Barr, 'Experiments in Topology', Dover Publication Inc. 1989
-George Francis, 'A Topological Picture Book', Springer Verlag 1987
-Daina Taimina, 'Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes', AK Peters Ltd, 2009
-Gregory Bateson 'Steps to an Ecology of Mind', University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2000
-Martin Davis 'The Universal Computer, The Road from Leibniz to Turing', W.W. Norten & Company, New York, London 2000
-Hans M. Wingler. 'Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago' MIT Press, 1969
-David A. Huffman 'Curvature and creases: A primer on paper', IEEE Transactions on Computers, C-25(10): 1010–1019, October 1976
-Esther Dora Adler. ''A new unity!" The art and pedagogy of Josef Albers' Master's thesis, University of Maryland, 2004

.: gisela 3:49 PM