Kollektiv A

Architecture Collective 


«We believe in a quality that can only survive with authorship.»

«We believe in a quality that can only survive with authorship.»

«We believe in a quality that can only survive with authorship.»

«We believe in a quality that can only survive with authorship.»

Please introduce yourself and your office.

My name is Benedict Esche, In 2015, Kollektiv A was founded together with Jonas Altmann, Lena Kwasow-Esche and Lionel Esche. Later Nils Rostek joined our collective. Since the establishment of the office our focus lays in complex residential buildings. For this purpose, the office exhibited in the German Pavilion at the Architecture Biennial in 2016. In addition, cultural buildings are part of the portfolio. Kollektiv A is constantly working on the further development of the office and its ideas. This includes not only the optimization of the operation and internal organization, but also the participation in competitions.

How did you find your way into the field of Architecture?

When do you discover that you can't live your life to architecture? When you decide to make your passion for architecture a profession and make a living from it? If you take your first steps on the difficult, but exiting road of architecture, the architectural competition? If you want to decide to architecture at a university? When one finds pleasure in designing while you play with building blocks as a child? Maybe there is an even earlier moment. One intuitive, sensual grasp of the room and matter, stagnation and the movement, light and shadow, as an early physical experience beyond of all conceptuality. For me there has been such a moment.
When I think back, I think of my first tree house in my family’s garden. The smile, the joy in my brother's face, the giggling and the laughter of my friends when we finally filled the tree house with life. Quite simply, no gold, no marble, no glitter, no splendor, no decoration. For us it was a small but built utopia. Now, in architecture, being confronted with creating living space, vivid areas, roots and homeland on a daily basis is what is still spurring me on today.

What are your experiences founding Kollektiv A and working in a collective structure?

We all share a faith. We believe in a quality that can only survive with authorship. This authorship and identity exist always in horizontal and vertical coherence in the work of being an architect. Despite all the differences in our collective and the construction tasks, in the projects and with clients, the respective continuity of the creative - in relation to the entire creative process and the general development as well as the individual plant and its development from urban development to the structural characteristics in structural detail of an architect – are stylistically evident. Authorship lays in every detail. The carpenter who is suggesting another glue, the electrician who is promising a better result in working with copper and many more. Participation, identity and authorship is essential. We all draw from the same source, the History. Looking forward, means looking back, this is how architectural Poetry can be created.

How would you characterize Munich as location for architects who want to start their own practice? How is the context of this place influencing your work?

Munich is playful and eternally cheerfull. It is a city of second sight. Everywhere there is potential and opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered. With our roof garden in Munich we were able to do just that. A dead and undiscovered place in the middle of the city became a lively oasis. In Munich they gave us the confidence and opportunity to be able to create and build. To do what we love and can do. So, for me, I can say, I love this city.


Roofgarden project, Photography by Lillie Wermuth

Roofgarden project, Photography by Lillie Wermuth

Would you show us your desk/working space…


Would you show us your desk/working space…


What is the essence of architecture for you personally?

In architecture, especially today, you need to have a posture. Find the image behind the scheme of architecture. Architecture nowadays is increasingly becoming only a stylish photograph in which one withdraws from the complexity overhang of the outside world, a place of longing.
The new sense-seeking society asks for the idea, the simplicity in architecture and art. This is what I am looking for. Resisting a simple culture of images. I believe that architecture always need to tell a story. Architecture means, according to Kahn to search for the truth. The power of architecture is comprehensive.
It is ultimately about what the imagination can do with one of the most fundamental aspects of our life, To create a place for belonging and living. To create a flat for the needs for adequate accommodation - a home. It is also about what the imagination can do and change for an individual who leaves his home: to give his life a destiny, to shape society and the future in science, in research, in the creation of art, and finally to confess a faith.

Your master of architecture?

A Book: Italo Calvino Le cittá invisibili


In his travelogues from the 13th century, Marco Polo compares “the province of darkness”, the most distant region of the then known world, with the missing stars on the firnament. Stargazing, the subject of many travelogues, allows us to reflect beyond the limits of perception and cognition. In their omnipresence, they also connect us with something deeply familiar. Wherever we are, the vastness of the starry sky accompanies us. Exactly this contradiction we see today in the flood of architectural images. For me, my work is about seeing architecture as such. Seeing her as something sculptured and thought, as something that is directly and methaphysically connected to the world and invites us to linger, protexts us and yet can and may open the horizont.
A Person: Samuel Beckett because of his ability of omission and leaving things and thoughts behind, because of the gloom in his words, where there is no world for imagination and endless thoughts. The language loses its adjectives and leaves everything behind. Here would also Ungers a master for his Intelligence, his subject matter, sensuality, presence and precision in architecture, which is incomparable till today.
A Building: Henry’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop, Pomona, John Lautner

How do you choose to present architecture?And Why?

A Drawing does not need to represent anything else than what it is. Architecture. The drawing in this sense represents the idea and proof of an architectural Hypothesis. Karl Poppers book “Conjectures and Refutations” is demonstrating the Plan as a method of conceptualizing a to-be-built structure. That is why only the most necessary has to be shown in plan. It is about focusing on one theme and topic. We draw them like that to make something clear. To create a statement.

What has to change in the Architecture Industry? How do you imagine the future?

We must move away from pure short-term consumption, demonstration and only financially oriented architecture towards a more meaningful, more reasonable architecture.
However, architecture cannot be limited to a few pictures. Today there exists an astonishment of criticism in architecture. Sometimes architects today only need one photo to say that a building is bad. The process behind this, however, is increasingly seldom questioned. Architecture stands in its own way.
Thinking about architecture and creating ‘good’ architecture has always gone hand in hand with the use of linguistic images. Architecture is always as diverse as a city, organic and necessary as a natural being, as meaningful as language, which has belly letters, words, sentences, rules and systems, and yet as functional and usable as a machine. It is the expression of an attitude.



Temp is a project in collaboration together with the curator Bérangère Armand → wewantarteverywhere

The idea of Temp is a real yet empty space – a circle punctuated by columns, which play with the standard notions of temple and templum. In the West, as in Asia and Africa, the circle and the square that encloses it are omnipresent. These two geometric shapes most often embody a religious, cosmological, or even political reference. Unlike the Greek temple, or the Christian church, however, Temp has no boundary walls. The space is not delimited but it is defined by an irregular base and a roof in which a circle has been cut to allow light to enter. The space at the heart of Temp is empty. We do not decide what it should honour or commemorate.

We are creating a free space in which to ponder the following questions: what to commemorate, what values or figures do we honour today? Who will decide? What authority, what group and with what qualification? We are seldom dispassionate in how we view commemorative factors. Should monuments that glorify acts or personalities that we now find distasteful be destroyed, or is preserving these reminders of our past crimes the best way to keep extremists at bay?

Temp is a space that is open to everyone – it is a forum, a place for discussion. We intend that meetings, discussions and conferences will take place there. The quality and content of these discussions will be influenced by the formal features of the space. Like the togunas used by the Dogon elders, it stimulates a different quality of debate and conversation and a different atmosphere according to the light, the volume of the space and its simplicity.

The architecture of Temp is also a metaphor for how we look at things: we can be both open and restrained at the same time. As observers, visitors approaching the edge of Temp, we get closer to it and can see the far-off distance through it. The columns form small gaps, creating space and allowing light to enter, so that we can see through and beyond them. But at the same time, these columns prevent us from seeing – they create a blur and block our view. Temp brings to mind blinds and jalousies – shutters that let some air and light through but that also restrict one’s view, splitting reality into parallel strips. Temp is a haven for ideas but also a refuge for the weak: the homeless, migrants and others without a voice or a platform. Temp poses questions about the representation of ideas, the type of commemoration, the embodiment of memory and, more generally, the complex question of universality.


Text by Bérangère Armand,

architecture by Benedict Esche. 

Website: kollektiv-a.de
Pavillon Project: wwae.fr
Links: Instagram, Facebook
Images: © Kollektiv A
Interview: kntxtr, 07/2018