Crystal Talk
Text: Friederike MeyerPhotos: Christoph Reichelt, Petra Steiner, Inga Paas


Profil knerer

The route to Eva Maria Lang and Thomas Knerer leads to an industrial estate. This area in the north of Dresden is well-known because of the party locations in Strasse E. The architects set up shop next door to these in a factory dating from the turn of the last century.

Knerer says that it was pure chance that 14 years ago they founded their studio in Dresden of all places. Eva Maria Lang, on the other hand, says that he liked the city because everything was so monochrome. All that has changed. For several years now the downtown area has been resplendent in gold-plated cupolas and pinkish-yellow facades, which appeals to those tourists who enjoy strolling past the windows of antique shops. At the same time committed citizens are conducting heated arguments about the building measures in the historic city center, Neumarkt, where the Frauenkirche stands. Compared with the pseudo-baroque museum-like feel to downtown, the Knerer Lang studio looks like the Spaceship Enterprise. In the entrance right next to the steel door there is a pin-ball machine. Thomas Knerer lifts up the covering. It is a Williams OXO, made in 73, a relic from his student days. He knows all about them, as back then he loved repairing pin-ball machines, painstakingly soldering switching circuits.

Thomas Knerer (born 1963) and Eva Maria Lang (1964) belong to the generation of architects who had just completed their studies when Germany reunited. And like many others, the two recent graduates of the Technical University in Munich set off on an East German adventure. In Dresden there are a number of studios whose owners worked as assistants to the newly appointed professors at the Technical University there while at the same time setting up their business. Today some of them even have a chair themselves.
In the case of Knerer Lang it was Eva Maria who in the mid-90s brought a breath of fresh air to students at Carsten Lorenzen’s chair of residential construction, while Thomas Knerer, who for eight years now has been Professor of Structural Design at Westsächsische Hochschule in Zwickau, took care of the first contacts.

In the meantime, with their slightly reserved, clearly structured buildings the two have emerged at the top of the Dresden architects rankings. Their list of assignments includes several private residences. They are currently rejuvenating the 200-meter long row on Prager Strasse, one of Europe’s longest residential buildings. Even though with regard to design and construction there is hardly any other German studio as adept and experienced as they are when it comes to refurbishing buildings made of prefabricated concrete slabs, there is no way that they are going to allow themselves to be confined to the residential construction pigeon hole as a result.

Weiter Interview