Topics: Nazi Germany, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Adolf Hitler Pages: 10 (2870 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Topic 14: How was modern architecture regarded by the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s? What effect did their attitude have on the development of modern architecture?



Modern architecture plays a very significant role in the world architecture history. This new architectural style affected the most western countries in 20 th century after the World War I. In 1930s, Germany was still ruled by Nazi regime. 1 One of the most famous leaders of Germany entered the historical arena. His name is Hitler, who established the Hitlerian Third Reich in Germany (1933-45) and had huge influences on the architectural development of Germany or even the world. Some people think Nazi regime actually hindered the development of modern architecture in Germany; the others reckon the Nazi regime had positive actions on the modern architecture to some extent. This essay will firstly discuss the definitions and concepts of Modern architecture and Nazi regime in 1930s. After that, the relationship between them and how Nazi regime regarded and treated modern architecture will be further considered to help with providing a more clear statement of the effect which done by Nazi regime to Modern architecture.

Figure 1: The Crystal Palace


1 2

Tim Lambert, A brief history of Nazi Germany (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing), 2 Bromley Galleries, Upper Terrace, Crystal Palace, 1910, 2

The concept of modern architecture is necessary to be discussed. The historical background of modern architecture is illustrated as the decade after World War I. However, in 1851, the Crystal Palace (see the figure 1) caught people’s eye with its innovative approaches. It was one of the first buildings to use large amount of glass for the building’s surface and supported by structural metals. Hence, it was also regarded as the foreshadowing trends in modern architecture. Since 1920s, modern architecture has developed extraordinary in the world. To find out the main characteristics of modern architecture, people can notice that modern architecture paid more attentions on “the ‘rational’ use of the materials, the principles of functionalist planning and the rejection of historical precedent and ornament.” 3 It suggests that the essence of modern architecture mainly rely on the thinking of function and materials. According to Louis Sullivan who is the mentor of Frank Lloyd Wright, he stated that “Form follows function”. This shows that modern architecture became more emphasis on the functions of buildings and also explains the main tendency of modern architecture. 4 The building forms began to be determined by materials and functions to show their beauty and significance, instead of depending on the traditional ornament. Furthermore, as it mentioned, the simplicity in form and design was pursued by modern architects. Those ideas demonstrate it is better to cut down those unnecessary elements of 3 William J. R. Curtis, Modern architecture since 1900 (London: Phaidon Press, 1996), 4 4 Allen Carlson, Aesthetics and the Environment: The Appreciation of Nature, Art, and Architecture (London: Routledge, 2000), 206 3

building to keep their clarity. 5 For example, refer to the new materials used by the leading innovators, it became light rather than put ponderous materials onto the buildings. Those innovations breaks away the traditional aesthetics and make the building be clean, functional and simple. Moreover, modern architecture would show the real nature of the project, materials would be shown in the natural form and nothing was hidden or altered. “Exposed beams, open floor plans, and structural elements are exposed to the viewer.” 6This is the idea of “truth to materials”. 7 In addition, linear elements, bold lines were used...

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