Monday, January 10, 2011

Für eine barrierefreie Stuttgart
Don't mess with me!

As inhabitants of Stuttgart, we all get visitors from out of town whom we want to show the sights. It is part and parcel of living in such a culturally enriched town. In the evening you can choose among 10 concerts, 10 plays and probably 10 discos before taking the late-night bus back home.
Nearly every weekend this past November a lot of out-of-town visitors came to see my photo exhibit. Some haden't been to Stuttgart since we moved here in 2002, so they naturally wanted to see "the sights".

"Well, what do you want to see?" I ask.
"How about Stuttgart 21?" So we get out of the U-Bahn at Staatsgalerie, walk through the Schloßpark (which did not disappoint!) and on over to the exhibition at Charlottenplatz.

On our way over, a friend asks, "What are those?"

Landscape I
 "Oh, those are barriers that the police put up when the protesters threaten to storm the parliament building," I reply.

"Uh-huh. And what's that over there?"

"Oh, that's the Kunstverein, one of my favorite art galleries," I say. "They had a great photo exhibition this past summer!"

"And that round tower over there?"


"Oh, well you can't see it very well from here, but that's the music conservatory. In the summer they have concerts up on the roof!"

"And is that the world-famous Staatsgalerie next to it?"

Many colors, one function

"Are those colorful barriers part of an exhibition? Or are they part of James Stirling's architecture?"
"I'm not sure."

"What does 'Plenum' mean?" These questions are becoming increasingly difficult.


"That's a Latin word that means a meeting of a group where all the members are present."
"So can anyone go in there, even though there are barriers outside?"
"Well, not any time you want," I explain. "Only when it is open."
"And when there aren't any barriers outside?"
"Well, they are always there now."

State Parliament building

"And what," asks my foreign friend, "does Kein Winterdienst mean? Does that mean there's no outside service during the winter?"

"Yeah, sort of. It actually means they don't clear the sidewalks in the winter."
"But," my friend protests, "how do the people get into the restaurant safely? Snow and ice can be treacherous for elderly people. You could slip and fall!"
"Well, I guess you could always hold onto the barriers like a handrail."

Landscape I

"Yes, that's probably why they are there. Or for handicapped people."
"What do you mean?" I ask, not following her line of thought.
"Yes, I think they probably move them out of the way for handicapped people, right? I read in the tourist guide that Stuttgart wants to become what is known as a barrierefreie Stadt!"

Landscape II


  1. Plenum - isn't a Latin word, it is African-American southern dialect for "plenty of them".

    Brilliant blog!

  2. You are so right! Thanks for the props!

  3. beautiful pictures!