Cosmos Bar Cottbus: An Asterisk Hour of DDR Architecture

Cottbus.

Gerd Wessel (unrelated to the author of RUNDSCHAU, ed.) Is the inventor of the star. He was only 31 years old when he remembered the idea of ​​a cosmos bar on a white sheet of paper.
By Christina Wessel

A time that Wessel loves to remember. "Our hands were free for design, and the simple purchase of equipment was a problem."

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In collaboration with Jörg Streitparth and Günter Pöschel, he designed the building. The only requirement: "An unconventional building for the city center". This project would become the most creative project of his creative life in the GDR. "After that, I had to do with most industrial residential development." A task that allowed much less creativity. The architectural beginnings were promising. Shortly before the creation of Kosmos, the bar Wessel had met in Dresden the French architects of the sixties. It was the era of modernity. The idea of ​​the unity of life and work, recreation and the city in one piece had also inspired young planners and farmers from the GDR. At the university, bold projects of modern development led to a desire to reinterpret city centers. So also at Cottbus. As in Berlin, a loner emerged at the center of urban life with the milk bar "Kosmos", which was detached, almost floating, in the room. Through the large windows, guests have the impression of sitting in the middle of the surrounding green spaces. Similar ideas to those found in the centers of West Germany in the early 1970s. In 1972, the architecture office Behnisch & Partner, the Olympic Stadium, was designed as a flying building. Here too, efforts have been made to be open and transparent. While the Munich building was built with a network of cables covered with acrylic glass, the team around Gerd Wessel used Hyparschalen for the Kosmos bar, which covered the six-pointed glass body. The roof was made of steel beams connected to a wooden roof overhang. The roof covered the workers with blue glass granules as a visible reference in the space.

Cosmos Bar Cottbus: the artist Hans Vent used for wall painting a casein of milk protein

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    Father of the star: the Berlin architect Gerd Wessel.

Father of the star: the Berlin architect Gerd Wessel.
PHOTO: Gerd Wessel

An artist friend has drawn canvas patterns on the history and exploration of space. His name: Hans Vent. Extremely prolific painter of the time, he also created the mosaic portrait "Berliner Leben" for the corridors of the City Hall in the capital as well as the concrete pane of the former Gastmahl restaurant. Meeres "on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Berlin. Both works were removed in 1990. The Kosmos bar at Cottbus Vent used casein-based milk protein. You can use black milk and skim milk. An advantage of this material is its excellent color brilliance. Wessel still remembers the work of the fellow artist today. "He has designed various image concepts on several wall surfaces." The focus was on the theme of time: traveling in space. As a result, the paintings showed Yuri Gagarin in space with his spaceship "Soyuz" as well as orbits of big stars. In addition, explosive suns and bizarre beams crossed large areas of the image. An imposing ensemble that only emphasizes modernity. The motif has determined many buildings of the time. The GDR was in motion. This was also evident in the architecture. A short period during which many important buildings were built.

No wonder that in this era the star was a film whose protagonist Anita works as an architect. For "The Seven Cases of the Doña Juanita" (1973), the film crew of director Frank Beyer randomly chose the Cosmos Bar Cottbus. It was one of the most modern and remarkable buildings of the time. Perfect for the story of a young architect. In the film, director Frank Beyer, involved in the romantic act with actress Blume at the time of filming, and screenwriter Eberhard Panitz unceremoniously missed the name "Villa Juanita" in the film. honor of the film architect Anita (interpreted by Renate Blume).

    The first sketch: This was the first step in the development of the Cosmos bar in Cottbus. Gerd Wessel drew his idea on paper.

The first sketch: This was the first step in the development of the Cosmos bar in Cottbus. Gerd Wessel drew his idea on paper.
PHOTO: Gerd Wessel

The architect Wessel then built mainly apartments

Many years after the cooperation in Cottbus, Wessel and Vent stayed in touch. When the 83-year-old painter died in January 2018, Wessel wrote an obituary. Wessel was unable to rely on his multiple works on creating the asterisk in his later works. His daily activities consisted of an objective and a residential development. "These were essentially industrially manufactured modules without any particular challenge." He has followed projects with great interest. Such as urban development on the United Nations from today to Berlin. The varied residential complex of the architect Hermann Henselmann is part of the successful architectural projects of the GDR. Here, residential buildings of different heights and structures have been created. The possibility of individually designing the residential buildings, designed by Wessel, was largely rejected in the 70s and 80s. He would have seen a great potential in the variation of concrete facades. "Unfortunately, lack of money and equipment prevented this claim." The demolition of the Kosmos Bar in 2007 made it even more offensive, a fate that hit several brother buildings after the fall of the Wall. The state of Berlin has also strengthened the protection of the monuments of the large restaurant Ahornblatt located near the Fischerinsel. It was demolished in 2000. The Ruderzentrum Blasewitz, the Café Seerose in Potsdam and the Teepot in Rostock are among the preserved objects of this type.

Today, the architect Wessel regularly exhibits as a painter in galleries.

After the turn, Wessel worked on various projects in the city of Berlin, such as the transformation of the Tempelhof tram depot into a market hall in 1997/98. Today, at the age of 81, his creative desire is uninterrupted. As a painter, he exhibits regularly. In the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, he was an urban designer. Already during his professional life, he drew caricatures and showed a clear vision of current affairs. Despite his keen humor, he published his work in the East German architecture journal "German Architecture". It was only through a collage on the occasion of the magazine's jubilee that he aroused the suspicion of the GDR's control authorities when he drew characters being sawed on the Berlin TV tower. "It's not a job that improves the career," says Wessel. In Berlin, Eulenspiegel still publishes in 1985 a group with caricatures. It is entitled "Urbanities". He leaves aside the monotony of this architecture of the GDR, created in an industrial style. Nevertheless, today he looks with skepticism on the rigorous dismantling of the prefabricated housing district. His brief comment: "We have an urgent need for living space today."

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