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Architecture as an ‘agent provocateur’ of remembrance

Roger Diener
Diener & Diener Architekten Basel

The work of Diener & Diener addresses the mechanisms that are inherent to human memory. Take for instance a conversation where you are searching for a word but fail to recall it right away, no matter how hard you try. This unexpected, yawning gap leaves behind a sense of unease that lasts until the word, at a certain point, resurfaces from the context that seemed to have passed into silence.

Despite the characteristic diversity of the projects, the designs by the Basel-based firm have something in common. Drawing from the theoretical considerations of Aldo Rossi and Robert Venturi, the architecture of Diener & Diener seeks to connect with the location’s historic strata, thereby creating a temporal and spatial pattern. Far from fashionable discourses, the special role of memory is actually best expressed in projects involving expansions of existing buildings. Although such projects offer only limited leeway and are therefore certainly unique, the architects from Basel do not deem them substantially different from other projects. Yet their symbolic character reveals some facets of the approach pursued by Diener & Diener.

In 1976, Roger Diener took up work in the firm of his father, Marcus Diener, which he has managed since 1980. Roger Diener held a professorship at the ETH Zürich from 1999 to 2015, where he lectured and published at the Studio Basel together with Marcel Meili, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Roger Diener has won numerous awards, including the French Grande Médaille d’Or, the Prix Meret Oppenheim and the Heinrich Tessenow Medal.

Lecture in German.

Video Lecture (HD)