Hans Scharoun is to be mentioned among the most important representatives of the so-called Organische Architektur (Organic Architecture), a movement within the classical modernist art. He always sought the functional correlation between a building and its territory. The idea behind this was to develop a building design from its implicated function in an "organic" way.
Scharoun was born in Bremen in 1893 and grew up in Bremerhaven. So, seaport impressions contributed to his personal style. They are reflected in many of his buildings: Porthole-shaped windows, steel steps and rails, railing-shaped balustrades and balconies are typical elements also to be found with the Haus Schminke.
When his father became aware of Hans' affinity, he tried to ban him from drawing houses. He probably feared his son could become involved in a career which made little money. Therefore, Hans executed drawings stealthily, shielded by his mother, until father's death in 1911. In contrast to his father, the master-builder Hoffmeyer, who lived in the neighborhood, supported Hans' liking. Scharoun married Hoffmeyer's daughter Aenne in 1920.
Hans Scharoun studied architecture and building trade at the TU Berlin-Charlottenburg (Technical University) from 1912 to 1914 but, he preferred building praxis at the office of Paul Kruchen.
When Scharoun was called up to the East Prussia war service in 1915, Paul Kruchen directly appointed him as a District Architect to reconstruct East Prussia. Scharoun stayed there after the war and established his first Architectural office in Insterburg. There, he met Bruno Taut and joined the circle "Die glaeserne Kette" (chain of glass).
Since he became well-known by several works submitted for competitions, Scharoun became appointed a professor to the "Staatliche Akademie fuer Kunst und Kunstgewerbe" (Public Academy for Arts and Crafts) Breslau (Wroclaw) in 1925. At the same time, he got in the lead of the academy-owned workshops which had been established already 20 years ago by Hans Poelzig. This was long before the "Bauhaus" workshops. The ground-breaking academy was closed for political reasons in 1932, followed by the closing of the Bauhaus. In 1926, Scharoun became a member of the Association of Architects "Der Ring" (the ring). He made friends with Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Mies van der Rohe invited him to take part in the international "Wohnbauausstellung" (international dwelling house exhibition) which was organized by the Werkbund at Weissenhof, Stuttgart.
The one-family dwelling in Stuttgart Weissenhofsiedlung (Weissenhof Estate, also Weissenhof Settlement), built in 1927, and the residential home for the Breslau Werkbundausstellung, built in 1929, as well as the large housing estate Siemensstadt, Berlin, planned from 1929 to 1931, were trend-setting and expressed an example of his way of executing socially acceptable house buildings.
When the Nazis came into power, modernist architecture and arts came to an end. Most leading architects of "Neues Bauen" (New Building) emigrated. Scharoun stayed but he was excluded from public contracts. He found a market niche in developing dwelling houses: Where facing a road, they "camouflaged" in their formal vocabulary of architecture. Later, he remembered: "Construction companies were closed to me. Only those clients remained who, however, were fond of the New Building. The house built by factory owner Schminke from Loebau, Saxony, remained my favorite." The young couple Charlotte and Fritz Schminke had visited the dwelling house in Stuttgart and the residential home in Breslau before. Their own house was completed in 1933. After this, it became more and more difficult to Scharoun to obtain a building license as he was considered by the Nazis as being "decadent". He unwound the absence of building opportunities by drawing, fixing his architectural ideas in numerous water-colors continued to prepare himself for the time after the Nazis' governance.
The Soviets' Military Administration appointed Scharoun to a Planning Director and Head of the Construction and Housing Department of the Municipality of Gross-Berlin (Greater Berlin). He presented his conception on how to reconstruct Berlin at the exhibition "Berlin plant" (which means about "Berlin reschedules") which took place in the White hall of the Berlin City Palace in 1946. Scharoun's intention he called himself a "Kollektivplan" (collective plan). The plan was not just to rebuild but to basically reorganize the urban space. The plan touched on many areas which were off-limits and he was discharged from his job the same year. Finally, competitive conceptions were executed, due to limited financial and technical resources, as well as the beginning of the splitting of the town. All of the conceptions were influenced by Scharoun's drafts.
Scharoun was appointed a full professor at the Technical University of Berlin in 1946. He taught there until 1958. From 1947 to 1950, he also was a Director of the Institute for Civil Engineering with the Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (German Academy of Sciences) in Hannoversche Strasse, East-Berlin, where he developed the attic. In 1973/1974, the building became the office of the "Staendige Vertretung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bei der DDR" (West German representation in East Germany). Today, it is the Berlin office of the Federal Ministry of Research and Education.
Scharoun started preparing innovative designs for the elementary school in Darmstadt in 1951. Unfortunately, the school was never built but he was able to carry his ideas of school architecture out when the secondary school in Luenen was built in 1956 followed by another school in Marl in 1961. His ideas included "nest-like" and "secret areas" for lower grade pupils and "rational think-chambers" for sixth formers. In Scharoun's opinion, a school should advance a pupil's individuality, autonomy and maturity. He called classrooms "class domiciles" where pupils should feel good as well as responsible. From those "class domiciles", they could at first get into common rooms as meeting points for peers, from there to the centrally situated school auditorium which facilitates a common experience.
The crowning achievement of his works after World War II was the Berliner Philharmonie which was built in 1963. It is calculated according to its utilization thus, a paradigm for Organic Architecture. Scharoun's intention was "... to give adequate forming to a place of playing music and commonly experiencing it". Herrmann Mattern, who was introduced to him by garden designer Herta Hammerbacher (Scharoun met her in context with the building of the Haus Schminke in Loebau), designed the outside facilities of the Berliner Philharmonie.
Scharoun signed the architectural contract to provide preliminary design for the chamber music hall of the Berliner Philharmonie. He was not lucky enough to experience this as he died in Berlin, November 25th, 1972.
15 catalogues (N1 ... N250) ... more
"The architect Hans Scharoun - remembers..." ... more