Protest / Architecture

Barricades, camps and smartphones – Conflicts in public spaces between 1848 and 2023

Project description

Protest movements shape public space not only by the messages they convey, but also the (mostly temporary) structures they create. This claim is the focus of the exhibition project “Protest/Architecture” by the German Architecture Museum (DAM), which draws on numerous examples from the past 200 years. It is the first exhibition of its kind to systematically compare various forms of demonstration from an architectural perspective, including the barricades of the revolution of 1848, the stilted structures built by the nuclear power opponents of the “Free Republic of Wendland” in Gorleben, the tent cities of the Arab Spring, the tree houses in Hambacher and Dannenröder Forests, and the fluid, laser-pointer rendered rooms of light created by demonstrators in Hong Kong. The project aims to present protest in all its many facets along with all of its ambivalence. It poses the question to what extent protest architecture can serve as an indicator for the success (or lack thereof) of a movement.

During a preliminary research phase, DAM will team up with the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna to systematise the various forms, objects and structures of protest, the results of which will be compiled into an international encyclopaedia of protest. At the same time, the content will be augmented by a public call for protest items and a seminar at the TU Darmstadt.
This phase will be followed by a participation-based exhibition in Frankfurt am Main and Vienna. The centrepiece of the exhibition, a large barricade made of recycling materials, will serve to self-critically draw attention to the waste produced by exhibitions. The results will be documented in a comprehensive catalogue which will contain both journalistic and activist perspectives on the topic, as well as the previously developed encyclopaedia.


Director: Oliver Elser
Curators: Oliver Elser, Lilli Hollein
Correspondents: Esra Akcan, Sampson Wong and others
Design: Something Fantastic

Exhibition: Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Frankfurt am Main: 16 Sep. 2023 – 14 Jan. 2024; MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna: February - June 2024


Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)

Schaumainkai 43
60596 Frankfurt am Main