Published in DASH #06 - Living in a New Past
Price: € 19,50
Buy now!

Modern in Intention?

Paul Schmitthenner Revisited

In the period between the two World Wars, architect Paul Schmitthenner1 was a leading figure in the German ‘New Tradition’2 and instrumental in the establishment of the Stuttgart School. Alongside Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, it was the most influential German school of architecture of its day. It was formed in opposition to the avant-garde and fostered the concepts of building using crafts techniques and natural materials. Schmitthenner has appeared in a number of important discourses on modern architecture with some interesting suggestions. Strange but true; his prefabricated housing system, which has now fallen into obscurity, outdid the famous Törten estates close to Dessau designed by Walter Gropius in both cost and speed of assembly. In 1933, Schmitthenner made an agreement with the Nazis and attempted to bring the existing Prussian structures for the formal training of future architects under his control. Following the project’s failure he distanced himself from the regime and developed a subtle critique of the gigantism of Albert Speer’s official plans…

  1. Wolfgang Voigt and Hartmut Frank (eds.), Paul Schmitthenner 1884-1972 (Tübingen: Wasmuth, 2003).
  2. Until recently the terms ‘traditional moderns’ (Hartmut Frank) and ‘moder-ate moderns’ (Vittorio Lampugnani) were used to differentiate between the conservative movement and the modern avant-garde in Germany in the 1920s. Nowadays the term ‘new tradition’ is popular, already coined in 1929 by Henry Russell-Hitchcock; see: Kai Krauskopf, Hans-Georg Lippert and Kerstin Zaschek (eds.), Neue Tradition.Konzepte einer anti-modernen Moderne in Deutschland von 1920 bis 1960 (Dresden: Technische Universität Dresden, 2009).