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All Picks posted by Nikolaus Knebel
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Nikolaus Knebel
March 10, 2014
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PLACEBOOK I don’t do selfies. I am not on facebook. I also don’t keep a diary. I even shut down my website that I had so carefully designed, because I could no longer stand spending so much time on polishing up my old works instead of producing new [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 9, 2014
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Le Havre, France. Memories return unexpectedly. Often triggered by words, sounds, smells, feelings, or looks, they can eventually bridging between one place and another. I had only spent a few hours in Le Havre on the way to embarking on a ferry across the channel. The city left an [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 8, 2014
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Rotterdam, Netherlands. In the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, there are portraits of burgers with earnest looks, dressed in black clothes sitting before black backgrounds, painted with meticulous attention to detail showing every wrinkle of the face and fold of the collar. There are un-dramatic landscapes, which mainly show the sky, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 7, 2014
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Quedlinburg, Germany. Quedlinburg, is an important historic place in Germany. However, its main events took place thousand years ago, when it was a palatinate of the Saxon emperors. Today, this tiny town can hardly survive. Despite all the old half-timber houses being renovated, and the pavements redone in romantic [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 6, 2014
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Vaterstetten, Germany. Do you remember the first exercise you had to do in school? For me, it was the entry exam for children who were born after the cut-off date, to check whether they were mature enough for school. We were sat down in the newly built 1970s primary [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 5, 2014
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Kronberg, Germany. When we try to dig deep, we often use etymology as a drill. And whatever we excavate creates a new background for what we see. Looking at architecture with this tool kit in mind can be very rewarding. For example, at the Villa Gans by Peter [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 4, 2014
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Bonn, Germany. It makes a big difference, whether you go up or down, when entering a building, especially when it is the parliament. In the former German capital city, Bonn, the parliament building seems to be effortlessly embedded into the landscape of the riverbank of the Rhine. A large [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 3, 2014
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Baldham, Germany. Browsing through a box of books from my early childhood, I realized that quite a few of them were written for children in order to get by with the experience of living in the newly built suburbs of the 1970s. “Wir ziehen vor die Stadt” (We are [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 2, 2014
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Jalan Bani Bu Ali, Oman. Once you have passed by Jalan Bani Bu Hassan, you get to Jalan Bani Bu Ali, two small towns in Oman that derive their distinct names from a rivalry between two brothers. But more than that they stand for the surprising wealthy of heritage [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
March 1, 2014
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Soweto, South Africa. We were not supposed to be there. By definition of the apartheid regime in South Africa, whites were not to go to the black townships. Why should they? Well, to visit friends, for example, or watch a football match. On very few occasions we went, and [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 28, 2014
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Lake Tana, Ethiopia. It took the plane three attempts to get off the runway. Not a nice way to travel, but rewarding, once you actually make it from Axum to Lalibela to Bahir Dar in Northern Ethiopia. These places are age-old cultural sites, but our understanding of heritage, conservation, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 27, 2014
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Wakan, Oman. Experiencing the landscapes of the Arab peninsular it comes without surprise that it was here in these barren lands that monotheistic religions were conceived. There is barely anything between the treeless earth and the cloudless sky. Where should the trolls, the spirits, the ghosts, or the goddesses [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 26, 2014
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Oberföhring, Germany. It takes less than half an hour to read Remy Zaugg’s book “Der Ort des Werkes und des Menschen, oder das Kunstmuseum, das ich mir erträume”, in which he describes the kind of art museum that he dreams of. However, the reading opens up a whole [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 25, 2014
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Madinat Qaboos, Oman. Every morning when I am dropping our children to school, I am happy about the place where they spend an important part of their day. Their school is neither the typical overwhelming big brick box from the late 19th century, nor is it the underwhelming [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 24, 2014
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Siegen, Germany. At the last funeral in our family one of my relatives half-jokingly, half-seriously entered the burial vault to find out how many places were still available in our family grave. This ornate little building on a graveyard in the German town of Siegen was built by my [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 22, 2014
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Tianjin, China. The food looked delicious in the ice bowl. Knowing it would melt away soon stimulated our appetite to enjoy it here and now. The mayor of the city of Tianjin who treated us for this feast lifted his glass and expressed a toast. We replied and wished [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 16, 2014
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Mussafah, United Arab Emirates. I had seen these faces before. But only in the cosy environments of art history classes or museums. Käthe Kollwitz or George Grosz drew the faces of workers in Germany in the early twentieth century: haggard, empty faces, to exhausted to protest their exploitation. And [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 15, 2014
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Wachendorf, Germany. Germany landscapes are very orderly. Village is village and field is field. It is prohibited to build outside of the boundaries of villages, and thus the fields and forests are more or less free from any scattered buildings. Only very small structures may be built in the [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 14, 2014
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Paris, France. In a typical Parisian street in the fifteenth arrondissement there is a house that people enter knowing that this is the last place they will live in. The hospice is located in an old, but slightly run down building. Behind it is a small garden with [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 13, 2014
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Merkato, Ethiopia. Merkato is the busiest place I know. If economy is defined as the flow of goods and services than this is an extreme example. Within an area of not more than a square kilometre there are hundreds of thousands of people doing business. Small, very small business, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 12, 2014
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Muscat, Oman. There are two things I miss in Muscat: public spaces and exhibition spaces. Where would be an urban outdoor place for temporary events that is accessible for all? We were looking for such a place in vain, when we wanted to exhibit some delicately constructed models that [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 11, 2014
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Tutzing, Germany. It could have been a dream project. The client: a former CEO of a bank who had just retired on a substantial severance package. The place: a sloping ground by the lakeside south of Munich with view of the lake embedded in smoothly undulating hills; the [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 4, 2014
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Madrid, Spain. After over a year abroad it was a welcome change of scenery to travel to Madrid. I ascended from the metro station onto a street and enjoyed standing on a pavement. A pavement! This unique urban element between the edge of the road and the walls [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 3, 2014
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Florence, Italy. Florence was the first city I visited on my own, when I was just about old enough to get through passport controls at a border. Needless to say that the trip left a deep impression. On my second visit, 25 years after the first, I could finally [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 2, 2014
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John Cage: Silence. As much as I tried to force myself to like it, I never enjoyed listening to John Cage’s compositions. But I very much enjoyed looking at his notations as graphics. I also like imagining an audience listening to a pianist to whom Cage assigned the task [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
February 1, 2014
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Oslo, Norway. There was snow all over the sloping planes. And people: climbing up to the top just for the sake of it, and coming to see each other. The opera in Oslo is located on a peninsular within a bay. The square that usually goes along with [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 31, 2014
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Munich, Germany. It was a birthday party, our children said. Actually it was rather a re-birth that was celebrated as a big public event, when the river Isar was re-naturalized within the urban area of Munich. The river Isar is an element of the urban landscape in Munich that [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 20, 2014
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Peter Handke: Die Stunde, da wir nichts voneinander wussten. There are many examples of urban places, which are devoid of any people. Some exist on paper only, luckily. But others are for real. Unfortunately, there are too many of these kind of places where one feels like one [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 19, 2014
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Miyajima, Japan. The last ferry had left for the mainland. I had missed it on purpose. The place was just too beautiful to leave, and I wanted to spend the night on the island. Except for a few monks in the monastery, I was probably the only person staying [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 18, 2014
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Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust – Eine Tragödie. Published by Frederick Ungar, New York. The title page of this edition is stamped with: “Censored. Office of Intelligence & Censorship. Prisoner of War Camp. Camp Forrest, Tenn.” On the last page is another stamp: “Sold by PW Canteens Fort Niagara, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 17, 2014
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Geert Mak: In Europa. Complex circumstances can best be described through simple structures. One of my design teachers told me that when you are stuck with a difficult matter make a sketch of it every hour, it will clear up things for you. Similar frames are set by [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 16, 2014
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Robert Gernhardt: Gesammelte Gedichte. There are endless, and futile, attempts to define quality in design (or lets rather say in anything we make). The easy ways out are to either find a safe ground on hard facts and restrict the verdict to judging by counting, or to seek [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 15, 2014
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Bijoy Jain: Studio Mumbai. It was about time for an Indian architect to step forward and break out of the standard mould of how things are done in our profession. The way we think and make architecture is still defined by the practices of the Western world (including [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 14, 2014
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Dirk Baecker: Organisation als System. This title doesn’t sound like holiday literature, does it? I read it over a long weekend holiday in Arba Minch, a small town near the border between Ethiopia and Kenya, which is a rather unlikely place to have an enlightening encounter with a [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 13, 2014
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Hans Ibelings: Supermodernism. At the end of the last century, a new ism was proclaimed. The Dutch architecture critic Hans Ibelings wrote a book about his observations of a paradigm shift in architecture triggered by globalization. The assumption is that, if anything can happen anywhere at any time, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 12, 2014
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Dieter Wieland: Grün kaputt. In the eighties there was an apocalyptic mood in Germany. Whether or not the environment was treated better of worse than today is hard to say, but certainly the take on the situation was much less optimistic then now. The world was seen as being [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 11, 2014
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Rem Koolhaas: S,M,L,XL. No other architect puts more emphasis on not being an architect than the most influential architect of our times: Rem Koolhaas. In almost every text, interview, or lecture he makes it a point that he actually is a journalist. For him, writing a book is at [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 10, 2014
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Reinhart Wolf: New York. I grew up in a bookish house, and cannot remember ever having gotten a present from my father other than a book. In most rooms of the house we were surrounded by shelves filled up with volumes of all sorts. But one book did [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 6, 2014
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Berlin, Germany. Berlin was supposed to be all built up in a “Berlinish Style” by now. At least this would have been the expectation twenty years ago. After the fall of the Wall an almost bloody battle emerged between conservative and progressive architects, about the question how the [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 5, 2014
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Pirmasens, Germany. In a landscape of dark forests and narrow valleys, a landscape that could not be a more picturebook scene of a German “Wald” lays the smalltown of Primasens. Here in the back of beyond, my great-grandfather practiced as an architect and was head of the municipal [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 4, 2014
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Hong Kong, China. With a bit of wit and luck we managed to invite ourselves to participate in a culture festival between the cities of Berlin and Hong Kong. While the pavilion that we built on Tamar Square celebrated the void spaces of Berlin, we invited students to go [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 3, 2014
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Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Bashing Dubai for its vulgarity is an all too easy target. Of course, it is ridiculous to see copies of buildings from other cities. There is a copy of Big Ben, but this time its really big! There is a copy of the elegant [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 3, 2014
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Johannesburg, South Africa. Having a tennis court in the garden of our company sponsored villa was rather an embarrassment for my parents (or at least they pretended it was). It was too obviously the sign of a privileged lifestyle among a society that was utterly unjust. It underlined [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
January 1, 2014
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OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! by Dr. Seuss Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 31, 2013
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Chadigarh, India. When India and Pakistan became independent the state of Punjab was divided between the two countries. Since its main city, Lahore, remained on the Pakistani side, there was need for a new capital city on the Indian side. Nehru, the first prime minister of India, seized the [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 30, 2013
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Maerklin, Germany. For Christmas we built up the toy train set, meaning The Train Set, made by Maerklin, made in Germany. We bought it second hand this year and for our bi-lingual third-culture-kids this is a bit of a bizarre exercise, because Maerklin is the embodiment of a [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 29, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 28, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 27, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 26, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 25, 2013
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Cottbus, Germany. A century ago, Cottbus was a thriving mid-size town in the middle of Germany. A city with industries and an upper class of citizens that had no difficulties to afford building one of the most outstanding art nouveau theatres without much ado. The city was nice, [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 24, 2013
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Halban, Oman. Since the technocratic hubris in architecture burst in the sixties, the self-image of modern architecture as a morally and culturally superior discipline collapsed, and architects could no longer just be architects, but had to lean on other disciplines as a source of justification for their works. In [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 23, 2013
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Taman Negara, Malaysia. Walking in a jungle is the ultimate experience of non-spatiality. The jungle surrounds the hiker with a similar colour range in all directions, and a constant and even soundscape. When walking it is impossible to anticipate the path ahead and so every move becomes questionable [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 22, 2013
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Sarbet, Ethiopia. One of the main traffic junctions in Addis Ababa is called “confusion square”. Seven roads from different directions intersect here and the one and only train line of the city crosses, too. No big deal, but colloquial names of places always indicate the signs of the [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 21, 2013
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Casablanca, Morocco. At the end of my high school years I got a book on modern architecture. The cover showed a building that looked different to anything I had seen before: an abstract composition of cubes, no windows visible from street level, all life hidden behind walls. It [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 20, 2013
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Al Hail, Oman. The week around national day is fireworks season in Oman. The celebrations of the country’s remarkable progress over the last four decades take place not on the ground, but in the sky. Through the spectacular show of fireworks in the sky everyone can participate in [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 19, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 18, 2013
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Sendai, Japan. In my first weeks in Japan I spent hours sitting on the floor of an old temple in my neighbourhood. Literally, spaced out. Never before had I experienced such a limitless space within a small compound. It is surrounded by a solid wall, but the architecture of [more]

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Nikolaus Knebel
December 17, 2013
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Nikolaus Knebel
December 16, 2013
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