Thesis

Paysage et Esprit Heimatschutz

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Abstract

In the last quarter of the 19th century, Germany went from a federation of feudal states to a unified military empire. Simultaneously to this political shock, a demographic revolution took place between an unprecedented population growth and a massive rural exodus which large cities failed to absorb. The working classes of Germany were literally uprooted. The Deutscher Werkbund (founded in 1907), the German Society for Garden Cities (founded in 1902) and the Heimatschutz federation are three institutions which respond to this shock architecturaly. On account of a historical selection in architectural literature, the Heimatschutz federation appears to be the least studied subject of these three examples. Furthermore, the few specialized works on the subject have a tendency to consider Heimatschutz only through the lens of its antagonism with Modern architecture, thus deterring any internal definition of its characteristics. This study recounts and unifies the theories and doctrines of Heimatschutz taking their coherence and complementarity as a hypothesis. Our study relies particularly on four manuals: the Sechs Bücher vom Bauen by Friedrich Ostendorf, Hausbau und dergleichen by Heinrich Tessenow, the Grundlagen für das Bauen in Stadt und Land by Georg Steinmetz and Das deutsche Wohnhaus by Paul Schmitthenner. The synthesis of this knowledge and the exposure of its existence in the architecture of the time highlights homogenous and advanced design methods (the Heimatschutz Spirit) based on the shared narrative of an idealized society nourished by popular picture books (the Heimatschutz Landscape). This text aims to rehabilitate Heimatschutz as a genuine erudite architectural movement and challenges the consensual view which denies Heimatschutz any contribution to architectural theory or potential in the contemporary project.

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