„To build tall towers, you have to spend a lot of time on the foundations.“
Although Björn heed Anton Bruckner’s well-known quote early on, he had no idea how much work, effort and intransigence the entire development would mean – from the first ideas to the finished Column.
Luckily, we have to say, otherwise it would never have been built!
Below some impressions of the beginnings to the further development, up to the current construction.
The first ideas for a tower, which then led to the column, were born in 2018.
The place, where Björn has his studio, is called Künstlerhaus Ohlendorffturm, because until 1956 the Ohlendorff Memorial Tower stood immediately in front of it. This was over 15 metres high and offered visitors a wide view over Rahlstedt.
Today a memorial stone today marks the former location. This location, or better the “gap” inspired the artist to realise his idea in just this place.
The observation tower was built in 1907 by the citizens of Rahlstedt in memory of municipal leader Gustav Hermann Ohlendorff (1848-1906) and was demolished in 1956.
The motto: Show profile!
During the “Open Studios” of the Ohlendorffturm artists’ house, interested parties could be portrayed for a donation (e.g. for Doctors Without Borders and the refugee village in Rahlstedt, etc.). The response was very good, because people appreciate commitment. So it was obvious to use the profiles of the committed also symbolically: the profiles of the individuals in a column as a symbol of the bearers of society. We are all “pillars of society” and our democracy.
It is Björn’s concern to raise awareness of the topic of connection and to counter polarisation, polemics, increasing hate messages and division in society.
According to the motto, “Join in and show profile!” People are called upon to actively participate (on the Column) by making their profile available. From people for people.
First sketches and models
Gradually, the idea of building a permanent installation, which should have a positive charisma for the district and beyond, emerged.
At the beginning of 2019, Björn presented his idea to the public at the Rahlstedter Kulturwerk with an accompanying exhibition, presentation and discussion. The motto of the project was already clear: “Show profile! For solidarity.” The working title “Profile Column” was soon changed to “Column of Connectedness”.
More and more ideas from people from the district and the wider area were incorporated into the development, so that the artist gradually wants the project to be understood as a joint work.
A first model in its original size is being created
In order to get a concrete idea of the column, Björn built a 1:1 model made of corrugated cardboard with the help of carpenter Olav Schmidt and presented it to the public in November 2019 during the “Open Studios” of the Künstlerhaus, in the Edelfettwerk and later in the Dankeskirche.
After positive responses from the people and especially politicians, it became clear that there is a real chance to build the Column as a permanent sculpture.
The Authority for Culture and Media was interested in the realisation of the Column, but set high requirements for subsidies that the artist could not and did not want to meet. To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic stopped further developments.
The project was on hold for some time – until Björn launched a crowdfunding at Startnext. At the same time, he met a solvent sponsor from the district, who is still actively involved in the development.
The crowdfunding was very successful – now it’s on the authorities to continue
Pitch Video of the Crowdfunding Campaign
Initially, Björn wanted to build the Column in the square of the former Ohlendorffturm, but this was rejected by the authorities due to excessive urban restructuring.
Good, because it quickly became clear that the Column should get a central place in the district, as it is intended as a meeting place.
After initial discussions with the Wandsbek district office, one particular location became obvious, but unfortunately this caused displeasure at the “Round Table Wandseterrasse” – above all, there was great concern to affect the suppliers of the weekly street market.
The artist, politicians, associations and interest groups met several times for possible location proposals, which were submitted to the district office for re-selection.
This was followed by months of back and forth with regional committees and authorities, until the location on the terraces of the stream Wandse was officially decided on February 23, 2022.
The building application has been submitted!
The steelworker is already active and starts with the conception. He has already lasered a profile in 5 mm thick Corten steel.
Björn and the lighting designer simulated the effect of lighting on the old 5 metre corrugated cardboard model with different light sources. Let’s see how this will actually look on the real Column…
The artist’s idea is to make the Column a gift to the city of Hamburg. In initial conversations, this seemed unproblematic, but now it turns out that the city will not cover maintenance and electricity costs as previously thought. The problem of maintenance may have to be solved by sponsoring regional companies.
To be continued!
The Column of Connectedness shows a cross-section of our society. People from 15 nations and all social classes and age groups can be seen without any preference – no “heroes” or “awarded persons”.
All profiles integrated into the Column are anonymous and thus symbolic representatives of the community.
Already in development is a 7.5 metre high, octagonal steel column on a three-step concrete foundation with internal illumination. It symbolises a connecting coexistence and serves as a meeting place.
The term “connectedness” will be read in eight languages at the levels. A compass rose in the crown indicates (hopefully) further pillars and the connection with the whole world. A compass rose in the crown indicates (hopefully) further pillars and the connection with the whole world.
The idea is to set up Columns all over the city, throughout the country and around the world, in order to make our connectedness visible.
Here all people from the surrounding area are involved and can participate. They are people from all strata and age groups of our society, without any preferences or evaluation.
The togetherness develops on site when we meet and get to know each other. And this is the only way to create connection and rooting, the feeling of home.
An awesome idea! I can already see the Column in front of me, preferably directly on the market!
Rahlstedt rocks! That's why this first ”lighthouse” is with us.
The Column of Connectedness is a "lighthouse" project, especially in this day and age, and should be implemented promptly. This Column brings us out of the darkness into the light!
Connectedness, support and hope - that's what people need, especially now in these times!
Connectedness is exactly what humanity needs right now!
Just great! I am happy about this sign here in our neiborhood Rahlstedt: Together and not against each other!
Those who understand connectedness also live differently.
A great idea! Like the peel protects the apple, the Column of Connectedness can preserve and enhance the district.
Finally an art project I can relate to! The Column can become a very nice meeting point! You can always discover something new about her.
A lighthouse project with high identification potential. Great!
I hope the column will be standing in front of my shop!
The Building Permit
Dear friends, the authorities have approved the construction of the column! We are still stunned by the great news and super happy! Four years have
The first drill
Dear Connected! The exploratory drilling for the column has been completed. Ein Team einer Baugrunderkennungsgesellschaft hat die Arbeiten bis in 8 Meter Tiefe ausgeführt und
Application for Construction and first work samples
The implementation of the construction continues. As mentioned in the last blog post, there is a lot to organize and think about. I signed the
The development of the Column is progressing￼
After a number of regional assemblies and meetings with politicians, civil servants, local residents and the Wandseterrasse Round Table, the location of the column has