chapter  14
12 Pages

How the mind meets architecture: what photography reveals

WithHugh Campbell

In this chapter, I will read closely two photographs.1 The fi rst is one of a series made by the German photographer Candida Höfer of the Neues Museum in Berlin, made between the completion of its reconstruction by David Chipperfi eld and Julian Harrap and the installation of its permanent exhibition in 2009 (Figure 14.1).2 Like many in the series, this photograph is made with a largeformat camera. Symmetrically balanced, it centres on an octagonal space, its lofty coffered ceiling extending out of shot, with rooms extending enfi lade beyond the facing opening to a distant vanishing point. The red and green hues of the room’s wall panels are vividly present, as are the decorative scenes on its recessed apses. The room is not pristine: the photograph shows evidence of extensive gaps and discontinuities in its tiled fl oor, and of staining and repair on its plaster coffers. The crisp, even light which pervades the image renders all these details clear and palpable. Notably, the space depicted is empty – empty not only of humans but of the usual signs of human occupation; of furniture and equipment. It reads like a space held in suspension.