Art in Buildings

Art in Buildings is understood to be an artistic work in the area of construction work which establishes a direct connection with the public. In this sense, the task for the artists is to participate creatively in the creation process of a building and to address the given conditions of the building – location, space, content and function – to stage the building in the public realm and to give it meaning.

The artistic enhancement of a building encourages the acceptance of and identification with the entity behind the building, and actively represents a reference to the recipient by addressing and including them. Art in Buildings enables a multi-layered interaction between the represented entity in the form of a building and the general public, by making art accessible to everyone. It poses a particular challenge for artists, as the connection between the building, the building site and art which is created unfurls a field of tension that offers a multitude of possibilities, creates added cultural value and significantly enhances the appearance of a city. Art in Buildings is typically characterised by the long-term anchoring of the work of art inside or outside the respective building. In addition to this, art in the public realm can also be located in the vicinity of the building in question.


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On the other hand, Art in Buildings also encompasses an obligation on the part of the building developer, especially if it is the government, to cover part of the construction costs for the financing of publicly-accessible works of art in buildings – totalling approximately 1%. This obligation has been stipulated by the German Federal Government in a regulation. A set of guidelines and orientation aid for building developers has been available from the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development since 2006. The projects completed in the context of Art in Buildings are advertised through competitions and assigned to the respective artists. The regulation highlights the considerable value and importance which is attributed to public cultural management.

Historically, the initiative to establish Art in Buildings has existed since 11th August 1919 in the form of Article 142 of the Constitution of the Weimar Republic, which states that “Art, science and teaching [are] free. The state shall provide them with protection and participate in their maintenance.” This article refers to the precarious economic situation of artists after the First World War, and governs the participation of artists in buildings. The ruling of 28th February 1928 states the need to “create greater work and earning opportunities [for visual artists] in the construction and equipping of public or municipal buildings than before, with particular attention to the visual artists who are unemployed and in need.” This proclamation was also taken up and followed in the Third Reich. After the Second World War, the 30th session of the German Federal Parliament determined the following: “To support the visual arts, for all construction contracts awarded by the federal government, the federal government is generally requested to provide at least 1 percent of the value of the construction project to visual artists insofar as this is justified by the nature or scope of the individual construction project.”

The first work of art created in this context emerged from the art competition of 1953. It is the wall relief of a phoenix which decorates the entrance to the former Parliament House Building in Bonn. In 1952, a close link between architecture and art was established in the construction work of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the project gained relevance from the economic and idealistic perspectives. In the 1990s, a guideline for the completion of construction work by the German federal government in the remit of the financial construction authorities (RBBau) was drafted, known as “section K7”. This was formulated as a guideline in 2006, and has governed the construction work in the Federal Republic of Germany ever since.


Guideline of the German Federal Ministry