Berlin in a room

Buro501, 2015
Area Civic Urban Development Berlin Medium Information Visualization Physical Installation Type Research ArtAdvocacy

?City in a Room?

The concept of the Project:
?City in a Room? presents a series of multimedia exhibitions that simultaneously document the architectural image and the civil experience of one city. Through this project, Buro501 aims to point out the importance of citizen participation in the creation and change of urban spaces and to further examine the genuine local sentiment for built environment.
The performance is interactive and is carried out through a dual technique ? digital media and hand drawing. Based on the great importance of an open dialog between the architectural space and the public, the project focuses on exterior facades as its primary visual element. Authors, as architects document the actual state of the cities using technical drawings of street facades, that are afterwards compressed into a video. As the video slowly, horizontally moves through the exhibition space, the visitors are invited to spontaneously and immediately react to the city that surrounds them.
By drawing manually over the projected facades, the visitors, both literally and symbolically, try to seize the cityscape that perpetually escapes their influence. In the process of common creation of a new image of the city, the authors and visitors criticize the exclusion of citizens (and architects) from a chaotic and often incomprehensible contemporary urban development. When the video projection is shut down, an image of a city that was spontaneously created by a cooperative civil community remains as a final product.

Past exhibitions:
A series of exhibitions began with a performance entitled ?Belgrade in a Room? at The Prague Quadrennial 2015 within the Serbian national delegation, that won The Gold Medal for Provoking a Dialog (Jun 2015, curator: Mia David). After recognizing the universality of this issue, Buro501 later exhibits at the Urbanize! Festival of urban practices in Vienna (?Vienna in a Room?, October 2015, curator: Elke Rauth), then at the 32. International festival Sarajevo Winter in Sarajevo (?Sarajevo in a Room?, March 2016, curator: Ibrahim Spahic) and, finally, at the XXI Triennale di Milano (?Milan in a Room? at the International Exhibition ?Design after Design?, September 2016, curator: Stefano Micelli for ?New Craft?).

Visitors' reaction:
During our past exhibitions, the visitors were often instantly drawn by the sight of graphic display that is irretrievably passing by. Almost by reflex, they get directly engaged in the interaction with the video or at least linger to observe other people's reaction. Once participants recognize a familiar scenery in form and scale that is possible to manipulate, they immediately respond in different ways. Some visitors simply redraw the most impressive contours, while others try to modify or add different ones. Photographs from the past performances can only partially depict the atmosphere that emerges once the crowd is captivated. Moreover, organizers along with the media, were usually very pleased with visitors' response and the atmosphere, which was always followed by wide exposure of performances in related magazines and blogs. The installation is also found to be quite photogenic, since both professional photographers and participants enjoy taking pictures of it or with it.
After the intervention, the visual imprints of creative thoughts remain as physical results of the interactive performance. Based on the elusive image of the actual state, we create a new image of the city that consists of various personal reactions. Some of those might make one smile, while others would raise (important) questions of urban space. However, in that specific moment of shared creativity we can only sense empathy and solidarity, because above all - cities are about people.

Therefore, our strong hope is to conduct such performance as 'Berlin in a Room' and explore how people of Berlin experience and imagine their urban setting, and genuinely present this impervious sensation.



  • Ivana Jelic Buro501
  • Dalia Dukanac Buro501