Laubenganghaus, Siemensstadt, Berlin, Hans Scharoun, 1956-58
In times like these it is crucial to remain positive. For me architecture books have always been a means to dream away and immerse myself in something beautiful. One of these book is Carsten Krohn’s excellent Hans Scharoun monograph, published in 2018 by Birkhäuser. For the book Krohn took photos of almost all of Scharoun’s buildings, drew new plans and also included a number of largely unknown buildings the architect designed in what was then East Prussia. Further supplemented with materials from the Scharoun archive at Akademie der Künste Krohn’s book allows for a sparkling immersion in the work of this „other“ modernist architect and is highly recommended to anyone with a love for Scharoun.
Hans Scharoun‘s connection to the Ruhr area dates back to his early years as an architect in the 1920s. But it was only until the postwar years that he actually got to build there: two schools and a church, building types he didn’t realize anywhere else than here. These buildings, the schools in Lünen and Marl as well as the Johannes Church in Bochum are the focal point of the present book: „Hans Scharoun im Ruhrgebiet - Entwerfen und Bauen für das Leben“, published in 2017 by Berlin Story Verlag. The book gathers the proceedings of a travelling symposium revolving around Scharoun’s Ruhr area buildings, focusing predominantly on his school designs. The reader gets to know the two schools in many details from their inception to the later problems with maintaining and ultimately restoring them to their former glory. In line with the book‘s title the actual school life in these buildings also plays a role in the all-encompassing description of these outstanding buildings (very well contextualized by Peter Blundell Jones in his essay): what influence do Scharoun‘s designs still have on the daily educational work? And what are the unique qualities of them? These and other questions are answered in the book, giving insight into the practical and transtemporal aspects of these designs. I can’t deny that I am particularly fond of Scharoun‘s school as I think they are the most advanced and child-oriented pieces of postwar school architecture in Germany and beyond. In relation to them it is also interesting to read the contributions dedicated to the people involved with commissioning Scharoun and defending his designs against narrow-minded bureaucrats. The book is a fine read and marks the lucky end of a decade long struggle to protect and restore these unique pieces of postwar architecture.
New reading material satisfying my current obsession with Hans Scharoun: Markus Peter and Ulrike Tillmann’s „Hans Scharoun und die Entwicklung der Kleinwohnungsgrundrisse - Die Wohnhochhäuser Romeo und Julia 1954-1959“, published late last year by Park Books. Based on Scharoun’s residential high rises „Romeo“ and „Julia“ in Stuttgart the authors analyze the architect’s extensive and continuously developing research of floor-plans and the very process of living. Drawing on extensive archival material from the Scharoun archive at Akademie der Künste Berlin the authors seek to provide deep insights into Scharoun’s design process as well as his expansive intellectual and research network. Incorporating unpublished archival writings and drawings the book is a real treasure trove and will hopefully serve as point of departure for renewed Scharoun research. Promises to be an exciting read!