benno barth
award 2019

In October 2018  was announced the second edition of the Benno Barth Awards. 16 applications were submitted within the deadline.
In the conference of the 13th of April 2019 the jury decided to support two applications with a total amount of € 15.000.

Karin Ferrari (*1982 Meran, living in Vienna) : A research trip to the USA to realize a series of fictionalized travel reports which investigates on new ways of spirituality, magic and superstition.

Andreas Trenker (1990 *Innichen, I) and Giulia Faccin (I)

Award winners

Karin Ferrari


With support of the benno barth award, Karin Ferrari developed a new analytical lense for pseudo-sacred architecture. Her work connects commercial buildings which resemble ancient sacred architecture with research into the histories of vernacular architecture, finance capitalism, and cultures of consciousness. Ferrari went on a research trip to the United States to visit and document these strange hybrid dwellings: a wellness pool in a luxury hotel resort in Las Vegas appears as if consecrated to a Neptunian cult. Memphis, Tennessee, is home to a pyramid-shaped shopping mall larger than any pyramid in Egypt. And New York’s towering banks resemble ancient Greek temples, re-establishing the original connection between debt and faith, where the root of the word “credit” is the same as for “to believe”.

During her research, the notion pseudo-sacred architecture grew more complex. The religious roots of capitalism as a financial imaginary, and architectural fringe phenomena such as mega churches in abandoned shopping malls let a different story of commercial architecture unravel a mighty narrative. Needing to specify a new boundary object between the mundane and sacral, Karin Ferrari discovered a peculiar manifestation of this phenomenon in New York City: rooftop temples. What is dismissed as mere utility – water tanks, cell towers, or elevator machine rooms – might actually be sites of worship hidden in plain sight. She developed a morphological index of rooftop temples that establishes visual and theoretical connections between sacred architecture and urban infrastructure. Archi_Fictions of Ekstasis develops a new vocabulary to describe sacral-institutional-mythological manifestations in the urban environment.
Text: Bernhard Garnicnig

Forest house photoFreeman house photoMeiser house photoSpartan house photo

Andreas Trenker
and Giulia Faccin

(Bolzano – Amsterdam)

Andreas Trenker and Giulia Faccin recently returned from their research trip to Eritrea, where they explored the connections between Italy's colonial past.

The starting point of the project was toponomastics and urban planning, which took place in the cities of Asmara (Eritrea) and Bolzano during the period of fascist presence in the respective territories. Just as streets in Bolzano can still be found with clear references to the colonial past (the Via Amba Alagi is an example of this), there were as many places in the Eritrean capital Asmara, whose names emphasized the connection to the Italian state. The latter have changed depending on the subsequent governments, while they remain unchanged in Italy. Despite the physical presence of this historical connection, the collective Italian memory seems to have supplanted the colonial past. In Eritrea, however, this memory is very vivid and tangible. The Italian presence is not limited to architecture, but is still present in various aspects of everyday life, such as food, language, customs and culture. Even if the historicity of events could suggest parallels between the two realities (in South Tyrol and Eritrea), it must be emphasized that it would be naive and superficial to draw common conclusions.

The research on the ground was based on encounters and direct experiences, with the aim of opening an opaque chapter in Italian history and thus stimulating a dialogue about the colonial past, a reflection on its effects in the present and an invitation to imagine the future . The visits to the Asmara Technical Office and the numerous interactions with the local population have helped to reaffirm the human component versus the architectural.

The aim of the final project is to make this experience accessible in the form of a multimedia preparation and to make it available both online and in the context of a public discussion with the audience.
Text: Andreas Trenker

Spartan house photo
Freeman house photo
Meiser house photo
Spartan house photo
Spartan house photo
Meiser house photo
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