Best Design Universities in Europe
Amazing Design: Mauthausen
Today we went to Mauthausen Concentration Camp just outside of Linz, Austria. I want to focus this blog post on the importance of good design, because that’s what really struck me today when we were walking around the camp.
Aside from the obvious buildings and rooms that you would expect in a concentration camp (gas chambers, bathrooms, sleeping quarters) Mauthausen also had a small, separate room in the downstairs of one building dedicated to those killed there during the Holocaust. Picture this: a stone room with papers taped up on the walls with names on them. Really intense, right?
Wrong. That’s exactly what this room wasn’t. It was so much better.
It was a drafty, cold room, with stone walls and ceiling. It was intimidating, enclosing, and dark. The pathway on the floor was black and narrow, glowing with white lights from beneath the path. The lights added a soft glow to the room, but were not bright enough to change the room from intense to pleasant. It was moody, ominous, and striking.
That’s just the room itself, though, which is just as important as its contents because everything is communicated better when a scene is set, like in a novel or good movie. Design is not random; each decision is thought out and tested. “But what was in the room?”, you wonder.
Positioned around the dramatic flooring were black, geometric slabs, forming nearly triangular shapes. On these slabs glowed the names of the Holocaust victims in plain, white font. From afar, the names were so many that they appeared to be white dots, white blurs. Only when you approached did you see the names clearly.