“Get out into the city and look for places which impress you with their atmospheric density.”
This was the first task set at the IMIAD International Workshop
“Constructing Atmospheres” held in Stuttgart in 2010. The 44
participating students were divided into small, international teams
and allocated a specific area of the city where they were to look
for atmospherically charged places. They made some surprising
discoveries, in some cases selecting locations unknown to even
students and professors at HFT Stuttgart. After discussing their
findings, each team selected their favourite place from a shortlist
of five. They then set about examining the atmosphere at the
selected location in greater detail.
Particular emphasis was placed on the question of the influences that characterize a place’s atmosphere and how they can be modified. Working alongside Klaus Mellenthin, a renowned photographer from Stuttgart, the teams defined the best perspective from which a single photo could be used to capture the atmosphere of their chosen place. Having received professional briefing from Klaus Mellenthin and taken a photo from the selected perspective, the students created computer-assisted manipulations of the image which consciously shifted the atmospherically charged location towards the surreal. In many cases, teams were able to achieve a considerable effect using only minor modifications. To give an example, an organic food shop hidden away on Neckarstraße became a labyrinthine, tunnel-like space shrouded in intense red light. Subtle changes were also used to alter the tangible atmosphere of calm and contemplation that characterizes Hoppenlau Cemetery at the heart of the city.
Another team chose to investigate the atmospheric qualities of Wolframstraße, which is located close to the central station and dominated by rail bridges. Using just a few manipulations and a finely calibrated lighting concept, they were able to turn a busy road into an impressively enclosed space which suddenly morphed into a theatre. In addition to intensive examination of the topic of “atmospheres”, students also benefitted from a series of specialist lectures. Speakers included Andrew Holmes (a lecturer in Light Planning on the IMIAD programme) and Urs Füssler (a Berlin-based researcher for whom atmosphere represents a key area of focus). In addition, the workshop gave participants the opportunity to receive creative input from Peter Ippolito, the head of the world-renowned, Stuttgart-based ippolitofleitzgroup. The day trip to vitra in Weil am Rhein and Fondation Beyeler in Basel left a particularly strong impression on all participants. The two-week workshop may not have been long enough to reach conclusions on the topic of “atmospheres”, but it certainly gave all students a wealth of valuable stimulation and plenty of ideas to take away with them.