Stuttgart-Weißenhof, 1927: Modern architecture comes into its own

The significance of the Werkbund exhibition on “Die Wohnung” at Stuttgart-Weißenhof in 1927 is universally attested. Organized by Mies van der Rohe two years prior, it aimed to unite the various strands of modern architecture that had been developed earlier in the decade. Despite its commitment to internationalism, its international character was nevertheless somewhat limited by sheer geographical proximity and the haste with which it was thrown together. As Reyner Banham pointed out, it was a largely Berlin affair:

[I]n spite of these international overtones, Weißenhof was primarily a manifestation of Ring architecture, and apart from…four non-German designers…the remaining eleven were mostly Berliners by professional domicile, birth, or attachment — Mies himself, Gropius, Hilberseimer, the Tauts, Scharoun, Döcker, Behrens, etc. The style to which the foreign designs conformed was the style of Berlin by sheer pressure of numbers. No other city at the time could have mustered, as Berlin could by this date, over a dozen convinced modernists of recognizable talent.

Van Doesburg noted at the time that Corbusier, whose distinctive style was already well known, was strongly influenced by the Neues Bauen architects at the Weißenhof estate. Functionalism was out in full force, and van Doesburg had no illusions about its origin: “Principally this trend came from Russia, and therefore it concurs with the communist philosophy of life.” His intuition wasn’t too far off, and indeed the Nazis would denounce the settlement ten years later for its “Bolshevik depravity.” Wolfram von Eckardt, the architectural historian, recalls that the fascists installed pitched roofs onto the flat terraces in order to render them more palatable. Bombs dropped by Allied planes during World War II destroyed several of the buildings. Restoration since has only been partial.

Schulze strikes a slightly different note in his Critical Biography of Mies. In his view, the functionalism on display at the Stuttgart exhibition was more apparent than it was ever actual, largely an aesthetic effect. “To the extent that functionality was one of the New Architecture’s objectives at Stuttgart,” avers Schulze, “it is hard to defend the rapid deterioration of most of the houses — stunningly, within as little as a year or two. In short, Weißenhof was never a triumph of Sachlichkeit and functionalism, but of the image of modernism.”

Below you can read a selection of articles in translation about the exhibit at the time.

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Stuttgart-Weißenhof, 1927: The famous Werkbund exhibition on “the dwelling”

Theo van Doesburg
Het Bouwbedrijf
November 1927

I

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Some remarks about the prehistory. The demonstrative architectural exhibition, being held in Stuttgart from July 23 on, means the realization of an idea which has existed for years in the minds of the younger generation grouped around the periodical G (Gestaltung). This notion can be worded thus: since all exhibitions, whether of art objects or of architecture or technology, only show separate portions of an entity, Einzelstücke, and because on the other hand in our modern time the Gesamtarbeit, the unity of a collective stylistic purpose, is the only thing that counts, it must be clear to everyone that the exhibition of separate works of art, architectural models and designs lacking an inner coherence is pointless and passé. On the contrary, the requirement should be the following: demonstration of an entity in which all parts (meaning: color, furniture, utensils etc.) are organically combined. With the regular manner of exhibiting: the placing and hanging of loose objects next to, or on top of, each other, this was of course impossible, because that would be too much of a strain on the imaginative powers of the masses. They wanted to place the visitor within, instead of opposite, the new environment and make him “experience” it, instead of “looking at” it. This new requirement to demonstrate instead of exhibit was put into words for the first time in 1922, at the international artists’ congress in Dusseldorf, by the constructivists: “Stop holding exhibitions. Instead: space for demonstrations of collective work.” And under point 4: “Stop separating art from life. Art becomes life.”[1]

In fact, as everybody will remember, the aim to achieve a Gesamtarbeit formed the basis of the modern art movement in Holland, which around 1916 propagated its ideas in the modest periodical De Stijl and took up the defense for a collective rendering as opposed to an individualistic one. Then, in the midst of the war, no trace of this zeal was to be discerned in other countries, and this is understandable when we realize that this new tendency postulated an international orientation.

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The periodical G, in which the functionalists started publishing their views on architecture in 1923, was primarily based on the ideas of the Dutch and Russian artists, the former of which were becoming more and more the aorta of the new direction in Europe. It is because of the initiative of the architect Mies van der Rohe, by far the strongest personality of the group of German constructivists, the core of the circle around G (only five issues of this periodical were ever published), that the common ideal of a demonstrative architecture exhibition was almost completely realized. Not only is the Siedlung Weißenhof Mies van der Rohe’s work with respect to grouping etc., but the stands of construction materials and ingredients in the Gewerbehalle [Trade Hall] and the Plan- und Modellausstellung [exhibit of plans and models] — all of which are of great importance for the entire planning of the exhibition — can be considered his mental property as well. Neither should we forget the Versuchsgelände [testing area], located next to the Weißenhofsiedlung, where the visitor can get acquainted with the construction and building method and the materials used here. Various kinds of solutions for roof covering of flat roofs, sound proof walls etc. are displayed here. Certainly nobody will be surprised that the realization of this wide-ranging demonstration required enormous energy, all the more because unexpected difficulties, prejudices and even political complications had to be overcome; not to speak even of the financial difficulties, resulting from the tight budget with which the organizers had to work. We have to credit the architect Mies van der Rohe, vice president of the Werkbund for having tackled the majority of these problems, assisted by the 15 collaborating architects as well as by his faithful supporters Werner Gräff, Willi Baumeister, Hilberseimer, Döcker etc.; the latter undertook the supervision of the execution of the work.

It is not premature to state that — leaving the quality of the architectural products themselves aside for the moment — this undertaking of a demonstrative exhibition is the product of a modern necessity, not only putting the traditional way of exhibiting in the shadow, but surpassing it, and rendering it obsolete for future use. Those who have visited the exhibition held in Paris in 1925 and compare it to this exhibition, will have to acknowledge that the former sinks into insignificance compared to the construction manifest in Stuttgart. The latter contrasts sharply with the exhibition in Paris, with respect to organization as well as to the exterior aspect.

Robert Bothner, Stuttgart- Blick vom Turm des Höhenrestaurants auf die Weißenhofsiedlung 1931

II

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Impressions of the exhibition. — When we, after visiting the Weißenhofsiedlung, come to the glass display in the Gewerbehalle, we find ourselves, without preparation, in the best and purest presentation of this exhibition in the field of interior architecture (if these words are not a misnomer!). This glass hall, also executed after a design of Mies van der Rohe, owes its creation to the unequivocal task of displaying fragile material (semi-transparent and opaque glass of different colors) in such a way that it would be shown to full advantage. This was realized best by raising glass plates of enormous dimensions straight in the free space as walls, unprotected from top of bottom, without base board, profile or ornament. These glass plates are mounted in narrow, flat frames of nickel-coated steel. The problem was a sober one, but the solution reached the highest point that blessed, inspired visual artists can attain, and that only in very special moments: conquering the material with all of its faults, such as weightiness, resistance and transience, with the maximum of the energy force of the material itself.

Every material has its own energy force, and the challenge is to enhance this energy force to its maximum by proper application. The opposite is: violation of the material by wrong application, whereby a relatively large percentage of the energy force is lost. Weighing one material against another in respect to their energy and character, and proportioning them well, most certainly belongs to the essence of the new architecture. Only in this way can modern architecture bring to realization what it has to offer in involuntary beauty.

Only when iron concrete was, for the first time, applied in the right way (I believe this was done by Wright), were the character of the tension and the energy of the iron concrete shown off to such an advantage that architecture attained a new beauty, involuntarily, without a preconceived aesthetic intention. The same is true for plate glass, seamless floors, and other unjointed surfaces of materials, which by their purity, simplicity and their Gespanntheit [surface tension] are in keeping with the modern mentality.

It is my utter conviction, formed in practice, that only the ultimate surface is decisive in architecture. “How so? and what about the construction, the mechanism?”

The answer to this question is: “The ultimate surface is in itself the result of the construction. The latter expresses itself in the ultimate surface. Bad construction leads to a bad surface. Good construction produces a sound surface with tension.” Indeed, the finishing touch of architecture is in the finish of the surface, interior as well as exterior. The development of the ultimate surface is essential, from the first stone to the last stroke of paint. Every architect having a visual sense for construction knows this, and with this glass display Mies van der Rohe proved to be on top of this new problem.

What must be remembered in this problem of the ultimate surface is the following: only the surface is of importance for people. Man does not live within the construction, within the architectural skeleton, but only touches architecture essentially through its ultimate surface (externally as the city scape, internally as the interior). The functional element becomes automatic, only the summarizing surface is of importance, for sensory perception as well as for psychological well-being. It has an impact on the morale of the inhabitant. A previous generation (for instance, that of the Jugendstil movement from Darmstadt) was impervious to the purity of the surface and violated it by a multitude of separate objects, wanting to camouflage their lack of sense of architecture and construction.

Nowadays things are different, perhaps we have come to the other extreme, and the new ideal of an empty space and a pure surface comes closer to realization all the time. Here we are in the midst of the problem of so-called “interior design” and I will have occasion to go into more details about this — still unsolved — problem in a special article.

III

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Houses are like people. Their features, posture, gait, clothing, in short: their surface, is a reflection of their thinking, their inner life. The glass hall in the Gewerbehalle is the expression of a broad-minded human being with lofty ideas. The same is true for this housing complex, which, on entering the Siedlung, immediately strikes us by its grand conception. The interiors also show this. Although the dwellings are still separated from one another, they do not give us the dreary impression of juxtaposed uniform living-cells.

When shall we finally venture on centralized construction, and assemble a large diversity of dwelling possibilities and life functions under one roof (approximating the American skyscrapers)? Just as, with respect to the interior, the trend points toward the unit space, it will, with respect to housing for the masses, lead us to the “unit dwelling,” standardized in accordance with uniform dimensions (modules). Then also the hopelessly boring repetition of one and the same type of dwelling will not be seen anymore.

This row of mass-produced houses already resembles this kind of “unit dwelling” in many respects, and belongs to the best in its kind in the Weißenhofsiedlung. For the same recurring surface on which to build, different floor plans were designed (with a few exceptions), which warrant, with small variations, about the same economical lay-out. In these dwellings finally the traditional space between ceiling and doors was abandoned.

5.0.2 Weißenhofsiedlung Settlement and Loos Methodology Ludwig Mies van der Rohe | Weissenhofsiedlung – Deutscher Werkbund Austellung „Die Wohnung“

The latter have been extended to the ceiling, which makes the rooms look much higher than they really are. Because of a lavish use of glass the rooms, corridors, and service quarters are large and light. The floor plan, the living function is orderly and can be followed everywhere. Here we see the great advantage of wide windows, contrasting with the relatively dim rooms and caverns in the castle which Behrens erected between these modern houses, wherein the small openings for the windows are totally out of proportion with the façades.

In the housing block by Mies van der Rohe the interior furnishings were for the most part not the architect’s responsibility. Therefore we find many things there that are incongruous with the modern surroundings (somewhere I even saw an interior where the walls were hung with striped wallpaper!)

But the same holds also true for the extraordinarily brash, overwrought and very depressing “sculpted” baroque interiors by the Swiss Jeanneret (Corbusier), who showed with his two houses constructed in Weißenhof that he, in spite of his many good theories, in practice never overcame the Renaissance and the Baroque. These interiors are speculative esthetic, puristic paintings, converted into sculpture.

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IV

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Le Corbusier’s architecture in Stuttgart is strongly influenced by the German functionalists, although these were not as clever as Le Corbusier in employing their construction principles in practice. Shifting of the pillars inward, as Corbusier practices — I believe he was the first to do so — is also derived from them. In Russia, too, people already struggled years ago for the abolition of the traditional concepts of statics and the visual feeling of gravity in modern architecture. Only enrichment of technical possibilities could meet this need. The latest exhibition of suprematist architecture in Moscow (some examples of which could also be seen in the Plan- und Modell-Ausstellung in Stuttgart) showed some bold examples of these endeavors, whereby particularly the daring computations were important. Basic in new architecture is the maximal use of the materials.

With the functionalists, however, the decorative as well as the visual effect has been totally suppressed. Therefore, Corbusier’s villa construction does not agree with this, since with him everything, thus every part as well, is geared to an aesthetic (albeit purist-pittoresque) effect. His interiors are sculptures in color, having a very surprising visual effect, which are, however, only in exceptional cases serviceable as living space. These interiors are conceived too much as studios (like in Montmartre!). In no building is one so much aware of the painter and so little of the constructor as in the dwellings by Le Corbusier.

Nevertheless there is something extraordinarily depressing in the narrow long corridors, which, although their dimensions are derived from the paquebots [mailboats], remind us of the narrow clefts of the trenches. The chocolate-brown of the walls augments this impression even further. No, this architecture, this interior, is not “of our time,” in spite of the fact that very beautiful cubist paintings are hung on the walls.

As a result, the general consensus is that Le Corbusier-Saugnier has, by aiming at outward appearance, with this architecture, except for a few constructive details, stopped being a constructor of such great importance as was accorded him until recently.

Scharoun is much more conscientious. I previously discussed these new tendencies in architecture, which I summarized under the name “Functionalism,” and I am very surprised that the founder of this trend, the architect Häring, is not represented here. Principally this trend came from Russia, and therefore it concurs with the communist philosophy of life. It is after all understandable that, as a reaction to a period of decorative squandering and overloading, another period followed of maximal restraint in architecture and the production of utensils. However, the question whether such a dogmatically, even politically conceived spatial constraint, although only employed for factories and workers’ dwellings, can be carried through from a biological and psychological, in short: humanitarian, viewpoint, should rationally be answered with “no.” There is absolutely no secret in the new construction methods, the problem is sober, clear and business-like, and the correct, logical use of the modern building materials will cause the new form of architecture to emerge quite involuntarily. The latter facilitates a realization on a grand scale (called “industrialization” by me). The “Kossel” system may serve here as an example in miniature.

Although the dwelling has become an easily manageable apparatus for daily living, in which all esthetics are odious, nobody will deny that the surplus of human energy makes demands beyond a solely practical and hygienic space for living. In which form these demands express themselves in the dwelling (the interior) wholly depends on the inhabitant. Everyone carries his surroundings, his atmosphere with him and therefore the neutral living space may be called the most successful. Built-in furniture, even that of cement or concrete, can wreak havoc there. A modern dwelling will not press the taste or the esthetic conscience of the architect upon us, but at best reflect the life philosophy of the individual who lives in it.

In contrast to the attempt at maximal neutralization and austerity in the dwelling (as practiced more or less consistently by the functionalists, among whom I include Stam), nearly all the other interiors may be called obtrusive or “middle class”. In the former, the designers wanted to break with the hypocritical snugness characterizing the interior of a previous generation (with or without symmetry, with or without antimacassars!), of which there are several “modernizations” to be found here, femininely appointed interiors under French influence by designers from Frank, Taut, and Behrens to Oud.

Dr. Lossen & Co. Exterior view of House 7, Weissenhofsiedlung, Stuttgart, Germany, 1927 or later

Neither does Scharoun escape those aesthetic treatments of ceiling, walls and details, considered odious according to functionalist ideas. A rational functionalism, as the modern, undecorated utensils show, can only be carried through in the case of passenger ships and train compartments (in which the architects Loos and Corbusier find their inspiration). A solution for the modern dwelling which is satisfactory in all respects has as yet not been found, although the architects Mies van der Rohe, Scharoun, Stam, and also Gropius, though the latter to a lesser degree, are closest to such a solution.

If modern architecture is to become suitable for industrialization, we not only will have to sacrifice most of the esthetic element, but also as a consequence thereof to cut off new construction completely and ruthlessly from the esthetic architectural tradition. This has already happened to the utensils for daily life, which have highly risen in our esteem. We have severed them mercilessly from every notion like “art,” applied art and arts and crafts. Now we recognize that the best, yes — even the most beautiful, utensils are those which were not touched by craftsy fingers. Architecture will also come to this stage. The Siedlung Weißenhof confirms this once more.

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Three houses at the Stuttgart exhibition

Mart Stam
internationale revue
November 1927

Germany with its many great towns and many thousands of families, is experiencing a need, an intolerable dearth, unknown to Dutch architects, so well catered for, and sated with inessential fantasies.

Certainly we hear talk in Holland of house-building and workers’ settlements, but in reality there is very little interest in space-planning or interior design.

Germany is experiencing an acute housing shortage; a legacy from the years when the building trade was practically closed down. In every town there are thousands of families, young married couples, who have no home of their own and are forced to spend the best years of their lives as sub-tenants. But now the town of Stuttgart has decided to fight this shortage and realize clearly that it can be overcome only by a mass building campaign. A number of architects were invited to design specimen houses for this scheme. In a very short time plans were drawn up and the model houses erected.

However, it had been somewhat forgotten that a model house cannot just be designed; it can only be created by constant alteration and improvement.

It was also forgotten that houses designed for use by a large part of the population must be closely adapted to their special habits and way of life.

Some of the houses in the Stuttgart Weißenhof housing estate intended as model dwellings were only partly so adapted.

In the case of the three types of Stuttgart house designed by myself, I was fully aware on the one hand that they must suit the German way of life with its customs of laundering at home, making preserves and storing supplies for the winter, and on the other that these domestic occupations can only be truly economic if they are carried out by large enterprises. The Weissenhof settlement is a beginning, but only by the give-and-take of everyday use over a long period can it give rise to a model that is a complete entity in itself, as has happened, for instance, with the bicycle.

I therefore based my designs on regularly spaced points of support, on a framework very simply constructed out of angle iron and on a continuous floor made of precast concrete planks. The exterior walls are sandwich walls with concrete blocks, the blocks being covered with a thin sealing coat. When a large number of identical houses are being erected this system, if well carried out, should result in rapid, and therefore economical, building. A simple construction system of this kind, with a uniform arrangement of piles produces a smooth, simple form with a minimum of projecting parts. Economic considerations will confirm that the large, closed mass is the shape to be aimed at. If the building is broken up into several smaller masses it will require a much larger area of exterior wall, and certainly be much more expensive. The houses are intended (to judge by the requirements set) for the middle classes. It is assumed that there will be no resident maidservant, but that the housewife will probably employ a daily helper or, the domestic arrangements being so convenient, will do the work herself.

The ground floor includes, besides the necessary cloakroom, w.c. and small, functional kitchen, a big room for dining and living. This room is much the largest in the house and includes the staircase (though it could be divided off by a sliding partition), and in two out of the three houses there is a basement work-or garden-room. On the top floor there are three bedrooms and a bathroom-cum-dressing room. We hope to supply illustrations of these and other indoor installations later.

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“The dwelling”: Weißenhof exhibition

Werner Gräff
Exhibition catalogue
November 1927

The aim

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According to its most significant pronouncements, the new architecture is striving towards a new way of living, and towards a more rational use of new materials and new constructional methods. These are more important than the creation of a new form or style.

We say “according to its most significant pronouncements” advisedly, since inevitably the mass of its fellow-travelers has fallen a prey to the seductions of formalism, without making the slightest contribution to the essential process of change. This must be emphasized all the more because it is naturally the unusual form which first hits the eye, and resistance to new developments in architecture is always directed primarily against the external appearance.

If the opposition were to seek some clarification of what is meant by a reform of living standards and rationalization of construction methods, the dispute would no doubt be more fruitful.

It cannot be denied that during the course of the last decade the way of life not only of an intellectual elite but also of the large mass of the population, and especially the younger generation, has undergone extensive changes. The more obvious factors in themselves — an increased appreciation of fresh air, color and mechanical aids, the upsurge in sporting activity, social mobility and economic needs — are bound to cause radical changes in our way of living in the long run.

Stuttgart- Modell der Weißenhofsiedlung, 1927 Stuttgart- Weißenhofsiedlung - erste Bebauungsskizze von Mies van der Rohe 1927 025

But it has hitherto been impossible to create decisive new forms for domestic architecture, since the process of transformation is still in full swing. Indeed the customary dwelling which has served us for centuries seems unbearably ill-suited to the new generation — almost as if they were given frock coats to wear. Yet we have absolutely no idea of their wishes, not even a tolerably clear indication of the direction they wish to take. What is worse, neither have most of the modern architects. Only a few of them have the necessary frankness, freedom, and visionary strength — the rest, in this present and decisive moment, must content themselves with the role of fellow-travelers.

Frank Lloyd Wright had the necessary qualities twenty years ago. He knew the way to a new kind of living. But his compatriots have so far been unwilling to follow him, and he will have to be patient for another ten years.

Even the vanguard in Europe see that they must have patience for some time yet (although the fellow-travelers in particular have an unfortunate tendency to run ahead of the pack). Obviously a new domestic culture cannot be forced on people. But if the majority of the population are as yet unclear as to the direction they wish to take, one can at least try to sharpen their senses, break down prejudices, awaken instincts, and carefully observe their impulses.

Perhaps the new generation do not know how they want to live purely because they have no idea that they have a choice. In that case they must be shown the new technical postulates of domestic architecture, they must be acquainted with the most practical domestic equipment and machines; they must be made aware of the fact that the most talented architects throughout the world are striving after something new, even if their schemes prove merely fanciful. And so long as one gives practical examples of the different types of dwelling, it is preferable to fix things as little as possible, to show on the contrary that everything has yet to be given its final shape, which will be developed out of the way it is used. This is the reason for the variable ground plans in the skeleton building of Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Mart Stam. In this way we can help to discover people’s preferences in their domestic arrangements.

And this, in outline, is the aim of the Werkbund “Dwelling” exhibition, Stuttgart, 1927.

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Weißenhof housing settlement, 1927

Sigfried Giedion
Architecture Vivante
February 1928

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The exhibition certainly gave us an insight into actual life. We believe that it has extraordinary significance because it has brought new methods of construction out from the secluded of the avant-garde and caused them to be put into operation on a broad scale. The new architecture can never develop soundly without the active participation of the masses. Of course, the problems that have to be solved are not posed by any conscious expression of the masses. For many reasons their conscious mind is always ready to say “No” to new artistic experiences. But if the unconscious mind is once directed into a new path, then the laboratory product will be broadened and adapted to meet the needs of real life. The Stuttgart exhibition appears to us as the nucleus of such a process, and herein lies its importance.

The Weißenhof housing settlement gives evidence of two great changes: the change from handicraft methods of construction to industrialization, and the premonition of a new way of life.

Mies van der Rohe’s original plan was to interlock the house-plots so that a unified relationship could be created and the green areas would flow into one another. This plan unfortunately could not be realized for commercial reasons. Even so it is possible to experience how relationship and order are created by the level unassertive surfaces of flat roofs in places that would otherwise have been utterly chaotic. In flat towns, such as the Hague, one can observe ow flat roofs create wide interconnecting bands.

The Weißenhof housing settlement is dominated by Mies van der Rohe’s steel-framed apartment house. Even the apartment house, which today usually takes the form of a palace or a castle, is here transformed into a more loosely articulated structure. The steel frame permits one to eliminate all rigid inner and outer walls. For the outside, an insulated filling wall with a half-brick thickness is sufficient, and the inner and outer walls. These window strips are the only limiting factors. These window strips are wide and continuous in order to enable good light to penetrate as deeply as possible into the building. The problem of the apartment house is today (1927) even further from solution than that of the single-family house. Mies van der Rohe’s steel skeleton shows a possible way of unraveling this problem.

Many architectural critics found the continuous steel supports that ran freely through the houses of Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier very unsightly. It seems that it is especially difficult for the architect to free himself from the appearance of traditional structural methods in which the walls were the bearing members of the house. It is fundamentally organic to our present-day conceptions of space that complete expression is given to the inner construction of our houses. The continuous steel support is definitely not an aesthetic focal point. It may be allowed to run quietly through the space. Just as the columns of ancient architecture give the onlooker a feeling of security by means of their ordered play of load and support, so the continuous steel or concrete shaft gives today’s onlooker an impression of powerful energy that flows uniformly through the house. The free-standing visible column is thus given a new expressive quality apart from its constructive objectivity. Here is continuous energy at work: nothing in our life remains an isolated experience: everything stands in a many-sided relationship — within, without, above, below!

Mies van der Rohe has followed the possibilities of his building through to the utmost detail. Plywood walls that can be screwed onto the ceilings enable the occupier to alter the disposition of his space at will. Doorless connections between rooms. One is continually amazed at the amount of space that this method makes possible within an area of 70 square meters (750 square feet). It acts upon us as a necessary stimulant — an impetus that can set industry into motion.

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Weißenhof exhibition

Wilhelm Lotz
Die Form
November 1927

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The main part of the exhibition is formed by the Weißenhof residential site. It sticks out strangely amid the traditional architecture of the suburban approach from Stuttgart. But when seen by itself it spreads across the slope with surprising naturalness. Such a natural grouping and layout is otherwise only to be found in medieval town quarters and tropical villages. There are no fancy arrangements. The landscape, variations of terrain, sun, light, and air, form an ensemble of living forces into which Mies van der Rohe’s overall plan and the individual houses are sympathetically inserted. Thus the development seems almost like a living organism; everything is naturally interrelated. Indeed, this seems to us the most important and beneficial aspect of the Stuttgart site: that the exponents of the current architectural revolution are not attached to dogmatic principles, they do not stick mindlessly to slogans, but modestly subordinate their ideas to the demands of human life and needs. Yet they also go further than this, not in formal terms, but in the desire to point the way to a new form of living, which will come to terms with the contemporary forces so often regarded even now as the enemies of all human culture: technology, industry, and rationalization.

No doubt much of what is shown can and will be criticized. Errors of detail will appear, but this is why the development was built. It is an experiment and without experiments here are no results, and no progress. In many of the speeches which were made, there were constant and anxious reassurances that this was not an end but a beginning. If these assurances were intended to forestall criticism they seem misguided. The development is bound to become a whetstone for critical opinion. But we should wholeheartedly support the attitudes which have led to the creation of these buildings, for surely no forward-looking human being can doubt that the experiment will bring results of great importance, or that it is an event of great cultural significance.

The exhibition of plans and models should complement the development itself and draw attention to the generation of architects who in every country are standing up openly and sincerely in support of the new architecture. Here one has an overwhelming impression that these developments are not the expression of a style in the old-fashioned sense, based on and embodying a specific formal language, but that they are grounded in the structure of our times, answering to the specific demands of the task in question. And as Mies van der Rohe emphasized in his opening speech, this part of the exhibition shows that the Weißenhof site is not just an example of contemporary fashion in this country but part of a movement which is spreading throughout the world. And we may count ourselves lucky that we are able to examine the designs and plans of this group from all over the world, gathered together here in one place.

7 thoughts on “Stuttgart-Weißenhof, 1927: Modern architecture comes into its own

  1. Excellent review of the Functionalist who I have never heard of, The architecture is out of this world and the use of glass was extra ordinary.I liked Van Doesburg’s comments from the De Styll movement , an artist very much under rated in favour of Mondrian. very illuminating

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