GERMANY - This Berlin-based duo upholds the values of Modernism with an almost un-German mixture of international influences.
It may sound romantic (and it doesn't really fit with the firm's laid-back charm) but it was love and architecture that brought Frank Barkow (b. 1957) and Regine Leibinger (b. 1963) together. The couple live and work together, and since founding their office in Berlin in 1993, they have been among the most prominent and advanced architects of the younger generation. Especially in the conservative final decade of the last century, when the premises of postmodernism petrified into rigid dogma in Germany, Barkow Leibinger held the flag of Modernism high. It was a matter of defending values, overcoming misunderstandings, building on achievements. Although they employed the Protestant rigour of the cubic form, they added the distinct appeal of building materials. So while Barkow Leibinger's buildings breathe the technical coolness of their models, their approach to form and material, integrating visual, haptic and sensory elements, has created unique and distinctive designs with a strong identity. Perhaps the most surprising thing is how completely un-German this mixture is (even if the work of many German architects could described in similar terms).