Gustavo – Kunst am Bau

Architect ASA Arbeitsgruppe Stadtplanung + Architektur Heinken – Rüter – Gossler, Berlin
Completed 1999


A monotonous block of flats dating back to East German times has been transformed into Europe’s largest work of art. The frequently grey sky above Berlin has been enhanced by the warmth of the South. The Spanish artist Gustavo has used bright colours to paint his somewhat bizarre pictures of, for example, a red sun, a royal family and a shy, surrealistic actor. The fantasy images of this internationally renowned artist cover an area of almost 15,000 square metres. His playfully portrayed figures hardly reveal the challenge this project presented to the artist and everyone else involved. All uneven or bent surfaces of the panel cladded building had to be electronically measured before the Berlin ‘Stadtplanung+Architektur’ Work Team was able to translate Gustavo’s figures into three-dimensional pictures. The colourful, almost organically flowing contours of Gustavo’s figures were an equally demanding challenge. They had to run across the building as smoothly as possible which meant that cutting wastage and joints had to be reduced to the minimum.
This project was only possible with ALUCOBOND® material. Twelve different colours were used to saw and mill some 11,000 jigsaw puzzle pieces by means of computer control. As a perfect match for theALUCOBOND® material, the facade construction company HENKE developed a new substructure which allowed the horizontal and vertical attachment of individual pieces at freely selected places. The project received much interest and praise. Gustavo’s figures not only enchanted the residents of 296 flats. They have made the entire district stand out. Christiane Herzog, the wife of the former German President, acted as patron for this truly unusual building.