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Donnerstag, 14. Dezember 2017

Düsseldorf - The Dallas of Germany. A Radiobroadcast by the O.J.A.I. and Julia Zinnbauer for Radio KUZU 92,9 FM in Denton and Dallas, Texas

For the December-issue of the O.J.A.I. for Radio KUZU 92,9 FM in Dallas/Denton, Texas I wrote and recorded a feature about the achitectural relations between the cities of Düsseldorf and Dallas. More information about our radiobroadcast for Reid Robinson's and Mark Ridlens's radioshow named "Sonic Assembly" can be found here: Link.

Düsseldorf - The Dallas of Germany

Hello Mrs. Dreier, hello Mr. Farrelly, hello Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie,

it's a great pleasure for me to be on your show tonight and to imagine that my words are being transmitted into the dark sky above the glittering skyscrapers of Texas makes me really glad. You ask me about the architectural relation between the cities of Dallas and Düsseldorf, the German town where I have been living and working for several years.

Dallas City Hall by I.M.Pei and Downtown Dallas
As an explanation for our listeners I have to add that it was you, Mr. Farrelly, who invited me to take part in the groupshow named „A hard Place“ that was to be seen at 500x Gallery in Dallas not long ago. The exhibition dealt with the way a group of mainly European artists approach postwar modernist architecture. Right from the beginning I felt that one of my short films I had shot in some very futuristic underground stations in Düsseldorf would somehow fit into the urban setting of Dallas. Later on it turned out that I was not wrong. I must say that my week in Dallas definitely broadened my architectural horizon as it is completely different to cities like Chicago or Los Angeles.

At a first glance the question about parallels between Dallas, which is a relatively new city, and Düsseldorf, which was founded more than 700 years ago in the West of Germany, in a cool and humid area close to the river Rhine, might be surprising. Nevertheless there are several reasons for comparing the two cities.

Due to the TV show named after the Texan city, the term "Dallas" evokes similar associations all over the world. It's all about money, oil, glamour, intrigues – and it is about architecture. In the first moment of the opening credits you can see a motorway bridge leading towards a cluster of modern skyscrapers. A pan shot – the glazed city is sparkling in the Texan heat, then a camera flight over the Reunion Tower and the blue, shimmering Hyatt Hotel, than another pan shot over the cristalline fassades of the glittering city, taken from a helikopter. This is the beginning of an epic story that finally turned the city of Dallas into an exciting place of longing, also for the European audience. 

Some years after the first episodes of „Dallas“ had been produced, the German filmdirector Helmut Dietl invented a TV-show named „Kir Royal“. It deals with the fast, glamorous and superficial life of a Munic-based jet-set journalist in a very styrical way. In one episode the journalist visits the movie studios of Munic were a fictional TV-Show is being produced as a show within the show. Its name is „Düsseldorf – The Dallas of Germany“. Obviously in the 80ies people actually saw and felt that there was a connection between Düsseldorf and Dallas.

First of all both cities share a very glamorous image and you think that their inhabitants spend their money on all kinds of luxury. If you have a close look at the buildings, you can see that there is also an architectural relation between Düsseldorf and Dallas.

Downtown Dallas was mainly designed between the 1960ies and the 1990ies. Everything has a very clear and perfect and even futuristic look and I was really impressed by the somehow artificial flair of Downtown.

During the Second World War the city of Düsseldorf was destroyed severely, so when the war was over its center had to be replanned and rebuilt. Back then European architects were impressed by the American way of life and besides of building new homes, that were urgently needed, they designed malls, satellite cities, open-plan offices and bungalows.
In Düsseldorf the main roads were widened in the context of the car-friendly city, several administrational buildings were erected in the international style and a first shopping center was created. But the main building that can be related to the car-friendly city of Dallas, with all its beautiful motorway bridges, was the so-called Tausendfüßler, a very elegant fly-over. It was located in the center of Düsseldorf, close to a very modern highrise. Driving over this flyover really made you feel like being in a modern American metropolis. It was torn down three year ago.

Another building that was able to transport you to a glamorous version of the past, was the so-called Kö-Galerie, a shopping mall. When you see old photos of this originally very luxurious mall designed by Balter Brune in the early 80ies, you understand the ironic hint of Helmut Dietl, the directer of Kir-Roral, who desribed Düsseldorf as the German version of Dallas. The interior of the mall was completely covered with beige, red and black granite. Details like handrails for example were golden and also the elevators were golden and had a cristalline shape. Back then, when the show named „Dallas“ was still on TV regularly, in this building you must have imagined that you actually were in Dallas. Unfortunately the mall was refurbrished some years ago and today its interior looks absolutely banal.

If you focus on the use of granite in the streets of Düsseldorf and Dallas you can find it almost everywhere. In Düsseldorf, for example, there's another post-modern mall designed by Walter Brune close to the Königsallee that is completely covered with glass and granite (as well as a number of bank-buildings). At Düsseldorf mainstation you will find an entire ensemble of postmoden buildings with reflecting fassades and large surfaces of pink granite. All these buildings could definitely be located in Dallas.

When you arrive in Dallas by train, in turn, the first thing you can see at the station is the opulently mirrored fassade of the postmodern Hyatt Hotel flanked by the Reunion Tower.

In the end I come back to the postmodern underground stations in Düsseldorf where I shot the short film that I have already mentioned. There the floors and walls are completely covered with white crystallized glass ceramic panels and stripes of black and gray granite. These black stripes remind you of the wide horizontal bands of black tinted windows you can find in so many buildings of Dallas. Finally the perfectly arranged joints of the underground stations create a grid that remind you as much of the movie „Tron“ as the Dallas Main Center at night.

Therefor whenever I enter my home underground station I think of Dallas and its warmly shimmering concrete holding jewels of colored glass and granite.