Markus Berger is a registered architect (SBA) in the Netherlands and principal of the Providence-based art/design workshop The Repair Atelier. He holds a Diplomingenieur für Architektur from the Technische Universität Wien, Austria.
Berger is co-founder and co-editor of the journal Int|AR, which encompasses issues of adaptive reuse, preservation, conservation and spatial alteration. He is also on the editorial board of the journals INTERIORITY (Indonesia) and SISU-LINE (Estonia). Through his work as an artist, architect, designer, editor and writer, and through his research and teaching, Berger critiques conventional architectural thinking and practices and explores how art and design modifications and interventions can activate change in the built environment. Forms of modification, transformation, intervention, reuse and repair are central to Berger's research and work. His recently published essays include Death of the Architect: Appropriation and Interior Architecture, INTERIORITIES (Interior Reader, edited by Gregory Marinic, Routledge, 2017) and Imagination as an Act: Extended Realities in Interior Urbanism (The Interior Urbanism Reader, with M Grugl, Routledge, 2020).
Academic areas of interest
Forms of modification, transformation, intervention, reuse and repair are central to Berger's research and work as an artist, architect, designer, editor and writer. Taking over something already existing (an ordinary object or another work of architecture or art) to make a new work initiates a whole set of radical potentialities. Appropriation unsettles ideas of single authorship, originality and authenticity established by traditional art history, and putting the “old” and the “new” together in inventive configurations sets into motion the many possibilities of recontextualization. In architecture and art, appropriation unsettles our preconceived notions of things/objects and their place in time, and shows us the creative potential of rendering multiple points of view and non-linear time. Appropriations as acts of intervention have thus destabilized established meanings and created new ones.
Berger’s current work through the Repair Atelier engages discarded spaces, buildings, objects and materials by deconstructing and reinterpreting them to find new meaning, form and expression, rather than seeing them as unwanted or broken. The initial forms, uses and stories of these objects, as well as what was lost from them when they were discarded, are a central part of this critical inquiry. The process of reconstruction or remaking responds to these stories and inquiries and, through appropriation, imbues each of them with an identity that is both its own as well as one shaped by the new and vital relationship Berger establishes between maker/appropriator and object.
The Repair Atelier, housed in a former and abandoned local church, is imagined as a collaborative space to rethink and reuse discarded and broken objects, transform them and in the process “repair” not just objects but also the communities that form around them.