Bruno Taut

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Bruno Taut
Born (1880-05-04)4 May 1880
Königsberg, Prussia
Died 24 December 1938(1938-12-24) (aged 58)
Istanbul
Nationality German
Occupation Architect

Bruno Julius Florian Taut (4 May 1880 – 24 December 1938) was a prolific German architect, urban planner, and author active during the Weimar period. He is known for his theoretical works as well as for his realised designs.

Early life and career[edit]

Taut was born in Königsberg in 1880, and following secondary school completed a course of study at the Baugewerkschule. In the following years he worked in the offices of various architects: In 1902, he worked in Hamburg and Wiesbaden. Working under Bruno Möhring in Berlin the following year, he came into contact with Jugendstil as well as new building methods that combined steel with masonry. In the years 1904–08 he worked in Stuttgart under Theodor Fischer, acquainting himself with urban planning. He received his first commission, the renovation of the village church in Unterriexingen, through Fischer in 1906. In 1908 he returned to Berlin to study art history and construction at the Technical University in Charlottenburg. A year later, he started the architecture firm Taut & Hoffmann with Franz Hoffmann.

Taut's first large projects came in 1913. He became a committed member of the Garden City movement, evidenced by his design for the Falkenberg Estate.[1][2]

Taut adopted the futuristic ideals and the techniques of the avant garde. This can be seen in the prismatic dome of the Glass Pavilion which he built for the association of the German glass industry for the 1914 Cologne Werkbund Exhibition. His aim was to make a building out of glass instead of only displaying glass as a material.[citation needed] There were glass-treaded metal staircases, a waterfall with underlighting, and colored walls of mosaic glass. His sketches for the publication "Alpine Architecture" (1917) are the work of an unabashed Utopian visionary, and he is classified as a Modernist and particularly as an Expressionist. Much of Taut's literary work in German remains untranslated into English.[3][4]

Germany[edit]

After training in Berlin and joining the office of Theodor Fischer in Stuttgart, Taut established his own Berlin office in 1910. The elder architect Hermann Muthesius suggested that he visit England to learn the garden city philosophy. Muthesius would also introduce him to some of the Deutscher Werkbund group of architects, including Walter Gropius. Taut had socialist sympathies, and before World War I this hindered his advancement.

Taut's practical activity ended with First World War. He became a pacifist and could avoid military service. He began to write and sketch not to escape from the brutalities of reality, rather to appose it by presenting a positive utopia. On no account can the compositions and sketches which Taut executed between 1916 and 1920 be regarded as a form of therapy for an out-of-work architect. Taut designed an immense circular garden city with radius of about 7 km (4.3 mi) for three million inhabitants. The "City Crown" was to be in the very center. "Mighty and inaccessible" it would have been the culmination of a community and cultural center, a skyscraper-like, purpose-free "crystal building". "The building contains nothing but one beautiful room which can be reached by either of two stair-cases to the right and to the left of the theatre and the little community center. How can I even begin to describe what it is only possible to construct!" said Taut for City Crown.[5]

Interior of the Glass Dome

Taut completed two housing projects in Magdeburg from 1912 through 1915, influenced directly by the humane functionalism and urban design solutions of the garden city philosophy. The Reform estate was built in 1912–15 in the southwest of Magdeburg. The estate comprises one storey terrace houses for a housing trust. It was the first project where Taut used colour as a design principle. The construction of the estate was continued by Carl Krayl. Taut served as city architect in Magdeburg from 1921 to 1923. During his time as city architect a few residential developments were built, such as the Hermann Beims estate (1925–28) with 2,100 apartments. Taut designed the exhibition hall City and Countryside in 1921 with concrete trusses and a central sky light.

A lifelong painter, Taut was distinguished among his European modernist contemporaries in his devotion to color. As in Magdeburg he applied lively, clashing colors to his first major commission, the 1912 Gartenstadt Falkenberg housing estate in Berlin, which became known as the "Paint Box Estates". The 1914 Glass Pavilion, an essay in the new possibilities of glass, and familiar from black and white reproduction, was actually also colored brightly. Taut's distinction from his Modernist contemporaries was never more obvious than at the 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung housing exhibition in Stuttgart. As opposed to pure-white entries from Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius, Taut's house (Number 19) was painted in primary colors. Le Corbusier is reported to have exclaimed "My God, Taut is colour-blind!"[6]

Color variations of doors and entrances in the Hufeisensiedlung (1925-1933)
Onkel-Toms-Hütte, Wilskistrasse, Berlin

In 1924 Taut was made chief architect of GEHAG, a housing cooperative in Berlin, and was the main designer of several successful large residential developments ("Gross-Siedlungen") in Berlin, notably the 1925 Hufeisensiedlung (Horseshoe Estate), named for its configuration around a pond, and the 1926 Onkel Toms Hütte Development ("Uncle Tom's Cabin") in Zehlendorf, named oddly for a local restaurant and set in a thick grove of trees – both of which became a prominent example for the use of colorful details in architecture. Taut worked for the city architect of Berlin, Martin Wagner, on some of Berlin's Modernist Housing Estates, now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The designs featured controversially modern flat roofs, humane access to sun, air and gardens, and generous amenities like gas, electric light, and bathrooms. Political conservatives complained that these developments were too opulent for 'simple people'. The progressive Berlin mayor Gustav Böss defended them: "We want to bring the lower levels of society higher."[citation needed]

Taut's team completed more than 12,000 dwellings between 1924 and 1931. Although having sold by the Senate of Berlin in 1998, GEHAG and its legal successor, die Deutsche Wohnen AG, are still in business, and have a horseshoe as its logo as tribute to Taut.

After World War I[edit]

Hermann Gieseler Gymnasium, interior, Magdeburg, Taut and John Göderitz

Being Jewish, the architect was forced out of Germany when the Nazis gained power. Taut was promised work in the USSR in 1932 and 1933, and returned to Germany in February 1933 to a hostile political environment. Having Social Democratic sympathies, he fled to Switzerland, then to Takasaki in Japan, where he produced three influential book-length appreciations of Japanese culture and architecture, comparing the historical simplicity of Japanese architecture with modernist discipline. He was the first to reveal the architectural features of Katsura Imperial Villa to the West, consequently influencing the work of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius.[7] Taut also did furniture and interior design work.

Turkey[edit]

Offered a position as Professor of Architecture at "State Academy of Fine Arts" in Istanbul (currently, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts), Taut relocated to Turkey in 1936. In Ankara he joined other German wartime exiles in Turkey, including Martin Wagner. Here he had the opportunity to influence urban planning as well as introduce Bauhaus architectural education to the country.[citation needed] Some of his work was however received unfavorably and labelled as "cubic". In a letter to a Japanese friend he wrote "They gave me a great opportunity in that they gave me freedom for my craft. I will make a building which is not 'cubic', they are calling all modernism cubic. For this building, I am thinking of using some Turkish motifs."[citation needed] He proceeded to design his own house in İstanbul, Ortaköy as a bridge-house. His working area resembled that of the Einstein Tower, while the front view resembled that of a Japanese house.

After leaving Germany, Taut gradually moved away from modernism. A colleague[who?] remarked that "As everyone who gets old, Taut is stuck with Reneissance principles and cannot find a way towards the new! I am very dissappointed... It is a shame for such an avant-gardist."[8]

Before his death in 1938, Taut wrote at least one more book and designed a number of educational buildings in Ankara and Trabzon after being commissioned by the Turkish Ministry of Education. The most significant of these buildings were the "Faculty of Languages, History and Geography" at Ankara University, "Ankara Atatürk High School" and "Trabzon High School". His last building project, the "Cebeci School" was left unfinished. Taut's final work one month before his death was the catafalque used for the official state funeral of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 21 November 1938 in Ankara. It was a simple design, consisting of large wooden columns and a flag that covered the coffin.[9][10]

Taut died on 24 December 1938 and was laid to rest at the Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery in Istanbul as the first and the only non-Muslim.[11][12]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bletter, Rosemarie Haag (1983). "Expressionism and the New Objectivity". Art Journal 43 (2): 108–120. JSTOR 776647. 
  • Bletter, Rosemarie Haag (1981). "The Interpretation of the Glass Dream—Expressionist Architecture and the History of the Crystal Metaphor". Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 40 (1): 20–43. JSTOR 989612. 
  • Jose-Manuel Garcia Roig, Tres arquitectos alemanes: Bruno Taut. Hugo Häring. Martin Wagner Universidad de Valladolid: 2004. ISBN 978-84-8448-288-8.
  • Matthias Schirren (2004): Bruno Taut: Alpine Architecture: A Utopia, Prestel Publishing (bilingual edition) ISBN 978-3-7913-3156-0
  • Iain Boyd Whyte (2010): Bruno Taut and the Architecture of Activism (Cambridge Urban and Architectural Studies), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-13183-4
  • Deutscher Werkbund, Winfried Brenne (2008): Bruno Taut: Master of colorful architecture in Berlin, Verlagshaus Braun, ISBN 978-3-935455-82-4
  • Markus Breitschmid (2012): "The Architect as 'Molder of the Sensibilities of the General Public'": Bruno Taut and his Architekturprogramm. in: The Art of Social Critique. Painting Mirrors of Social Life, Shawn Chandler Bingham (ed.) Lanham: Lexington Books of Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 155–179, ISBN 978-0-7391-4923-2
  • A Comparative Study On The Works of German Expatriate Architects In Their Home-Land And In Turkey During The Period of 1927-1950 / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün / IYTE
  • Architectural Theory / Edited by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Christina Contandriopoulos
  • Architectural Theory From The Renaıssance to The Present / Bernd Evers
  • Modern ve Sürgün – Almanca Konuşan Ülkelerin Mimarları Türkiye’de / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Architectural Theory / Edited by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Christina Contandriopoulos
  2. ^ Architectural Theory From The Renaıssance to The Present / Bernd Evers
  3. ^ Architectural Theory / Edited by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Christina Contandriopoulos
  4. ^ Architectural Theory From The Renaıssance to The Present / Bernd Evers
  5. ^ Architectural Theory / Edited by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Christina Contandriopoulos
  6. ^ Kirch, K., The Weissenhofsiedlung Rizzoli International Publications, 1989
  7. ^ "Katsura Imperial Villa I Architecture I Phaidon Store". Phaidon. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Modern ve Sürgün – Almanca Konuşan Ülkelerin Mimarları Türkiye’de / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün
  9. ^ Modern ve Sürgün – Almanca Konuşan Ülkelerin Mimarları Türkiye’de / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün
  10. ^ A Comparative Study On The Works of German Expatriate Architects In Their Home-Land And In Turkey During The Period of 1927-1950 / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün / IYTE
  11. ^ Newspaper Hürriyet- En İyi On/Bruno Taut Villası (Turkish)
  12. ^ A Comparative Study On The Works of German Expatriate Architects In Their Home-Land And In Turkey During The Period of 1927-1950 / Yüksel Zandel Pöğün / IYTE

External links[edit]