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Sixty Years of Architecture: Retrospect and Outlook with Tobias Wulf

Our understanding of architecture has changed significantly over the past six decades. On the occasion of our 60th anniversary, we review the past and look into the future with Tobias Wulf.

What is the legacy of the 1960s?
Many buildings from the 1960s still exude a clear, uncomplicated lack of pretension. It evokes pleasing memories of the modern, sand-coloured brick residential area where I spent my childhood − back then it was still a bit bare, but now it’s well-integrated. Planning and building were simpler than now and were possible without too many constraints. With today’s design loads and fire-safety requirements, 1960s architecture would hardly be imaginable.

Where will architecture be 60 years from now?
In 60 years, I presume we will be using nothing but reproducible building materials, and that collective, emission-free mobility will always be available everywhere. Political and climatic extremes will contribute to the idea that, all over the globe, we will behave in ways that enable us to inhabit the planet under humane conditions for many years to come. In order to achieve this, creative and conscientious architects will always be needed.

When did you first encounter Detail?
It was 45 years ago, in my first large study project at the University of Stuttgart. As our Professor, Peter C. von Seidlein, lay great value on structural work-up, we liked to consult Detail. I’ve been reading Detail ever since and have had a subscription for decades.

When did you first encounter Detail?
It was 45 years agoWhat personal memories do you have of Detail? When I first became professionally independent in 1987/88 Detail’s editor, Frank Kaltenbach, was working in my office as a student assistant. We share lasting memories, for instance of working all night to build a model for a big international competition in The Hague. We finished the model at around 6:30 in the morning, but it nearly fell while we were transporting it to the car. On top of that, the sun shone on the model during the seven-hour drive, which led to serious warping …

What do you personally want for Detail?
For myself and my successors, I would like it if Detail still existed in 2080. And that you, dear editors, remain vigilant in tracking and documenting developments and tendencies in architecture.

Tobias Wulf was born in 1956. He studied at the University of Stuttgart; after several years of professional practice, he established his own office in 1987. He now operates the office in collaboration with Jan-Michael Kallfaß, Ingmar Menzer and Steffen Vogt. Around 120 employees work at the locations in Stuttgart, Berlin and Basel. The most prominent works by Wulf Architekten have won many awards: they include the adidas factory outlet in Herzogenaurach (2003), the Messe Stuttgart fairgrounds (2007), the State Ministry of Finance in Landshut (2011) and four primary schools built using modular techniques in Munich (2017). Wulf has been a professor of building construction and design at the HFT Stuttgart since 1991.

Retrospect and Outlook with Tobias Wulf, Photo: Göran Gnaudschun
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