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)
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.

Taut is known for his theoretical work, speculative writings and the buildings he designed. Taut's best-known single building is probably the prismatic dome of the Glass Pavilion for the Cologne Werkbund Exhibition (1914). His sketches for the publication "Alpine Architecture" (1917) are the work of an unabashed Utopian visionary, and he is classified as a Modernist and in particular as an Expressionist. Much of Taut's literary work in German remains untranslated into English.


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.

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 between 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, i.e. 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 centre sky light.

A lifelong painter, Taut is unique among his European modernist contemporaries in his devotion to colour. 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!"[1]

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."

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.[2] Taut also did furniture and interior design work.

Offered a job 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.

Before Taut's death in 1938, he 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". 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.

He 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.[3]


  • 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



  1. ^ Kirch, K., The Weissenhofsiedlung Rizzoli International Publications, 1989
  2. ^ "Katsura Imperial Villa I Architecture I Phaidon Store". Phaidon. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Newspaper Hürriyet- En İyi On/Bruno Taut Villası (Turkish)

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