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Architect: Bruno Taut , Onkel Toms Hütte settlement (1926–1931): Wilskistraße, Berlin (Photo: 2013)

The New Building was a movement in architecture and urban development in Germany in the period before the First World War up to the Weimar Republic ( 1910s to 1930s ). It should be seen in the context of the New Objectivity and the De Stijl movement in the Netherlands, which was developing at the same time . Representatives of the new building are the Bauhaus as an experimental training facility and the New Frankfurt as the first comprehensive urban and social project. The direction and thus the entire movement of New Building was opposed to the conservatively oriented traditionalist current of the Heimatschutz style . The architect Erwin Anton Gutkind coined the term Neues Bauen with the title of his specialist book Neues Bauen , published in 1919 . Basics of practical settlement activity .

The aim of the new building was to develop a completely new form of building through rationalization and typification , the use of new materials and functional, simple interior fittings, in which social responsibility (lots of sun, air and light against tenements , backyards and cramped Spaces) was of central importance. This resulted in a large number of settlements , which were often brought on the way in the times of social democratic majorities in the respective municipal councils.

Social development

Since the middle of the 19th century , the requirements and means of building slowly began to change as a result of the industrial revolution . The rural exodus and new work structures created a growing need for new living space that had to be satisfied. Uncontrolled and speculative building shaped the cities representative sandstone - facades followed dark backyards. At the same time, materials such as iron , glass and later concrete became increasingly popular and easier to use. New construction techniques prevailed: cast steel, iron skeleton construction, large glass grid surfaces and prefabricated structural elements. They brought new constructive and creative requirements with them. If the new techniques were first used in structural engineering , they were soon also used in building construction. In 1851 Joseph Paxton first used prefabricated steel and glass frame constructions in his Crystal Palace in London . In 1887, Gustave Eiffel showed the possibilities of iron skeleton construction with the Eiffel Tower in Paris .


In the Chicago School , the techniques were first used on a larger scale in the construction of residential and office buildings. In 1890, Louis Henry Sullivan postulated form follows function, a sentence that would later become the basis of New Building. In Europe, Auguste Perret was one of the first architects to use the advantages of iron-concrete construction in regular residential construction.

In Germany, too, architects recognized the diverse possibilities that the new technologies brought with them and tried to develop a new way of building from them. In the Deutscher Werkbund , architects united in 1907 with the aim of building functionally appropriate to the machine age, without taking historical considerations into account and using modern materials.

“The new time demands one's own mind. Exactly embossed form, devoid of any randomness, clear contrasts, organizing links, a series of identical parts and unity of form and color will become the aesthetic tools of the modern architect in accordance with the energy and economy of our public life. "

- Walter Gropius , 1913

The pressing social problems and the massive need for living space made like-minded people try to link the functional and design requirements with the social problems. After the First World War, there were major political upheavals in Germany with far-reaching effects, and in 1919 Bruno Taut , Walter Gropius , Hans Scharoun and Carl Krayl began to discuss the social aspects of New Building in the secret correspondence Die Glasernekette . In 1929 the CIAM Congress Apartment for the subsistence level took place in Frankfurt .


The new building consistently relied on the new materials glass, steel, concrete and brick. In this way, simple shapes and their decomposition could be implemented cost-effectively: simple cubic shapes, space volumes pushed into one another, free-standing wall panels and bold projections. However, the cubist design language was not a reinvention, it was already found in the Cycladic architecture , which Loos names as a model, for example.

The new architectural language followed the basic economic principle:

Social economy
The housing shortage and the resulting mass housing construction force simplicity, and decorations were seen as a waste. The simple design language made greater demands on the aesthetic demands of the design.
Constructive economy
The reduction of load-bearing parts to individual points and surfaces allows completely new design options - freer forms result with less constructive effort.
Stylistic economy
The formal rigorism and the clear ascetic form represent general validity and objectivity and represent an artistic goal. Following the idea of ​​the total work of art , in some projects up to the completely ready-to-move design of the objects.


Fagus factory in Alfeld from 1911, a first forerunner of the New Building by Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer
"Italian Garden" in Celle , 1924/1925
Kiefhoek settlement in Rotterdam
The "Rundling" in the Frankfurt Römerstadt settlement

The main representatives of New Building included (in alphabetical order): Alvar Aalto , Le Corbusier , Walter Gropius , Hugo Häring , Otto Haesler , Carl Krayl , Adolf Loos , Werner Mantz , Ernst May , Erich Mendelsohn , Hannes Meyer , Pier Luigi Nervi , Gustav Oelsner , Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud , Bruno Paul , Ludwig Mies van der Rohe , Gerrit Rietveld , Wilhelm Riphahn , Hans Scharoun , Thilo Schoder , Karl Schneider , Mart Stam , Bernhard Sturtzkopf , Bruno Taut , Max Taut , Jörn Utzon , Robert Vorhoelzer and Konrad Wachsmann .

The New Building developed in the Deutscher Werkbund and formed the ideal basis of the Bauhaus School. For almost half a century it played a key role in European building.

The new architecture was sometimes perceived as a curiosity. A lively private photography developed, which is also reflected in the numerous postcard motifs with buildings and settlements of the New Building.

See also


  • Rudolf Fischer: Light and Transparency. Factory building and new building in the architecture magazines of the modern age (= studies on the architecture of the modern age and industrial design ). Published by the Central Institute for Art History, Gebrüder Mann, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-7861-2665-2 (revised version of a dissertation at the University of Munich 2009).
  • Norbert Huse: New building 1918 to 1933. Heinz Moos, Munich 1975, ISBN 3-7879-0090-X .
  • Peter Lorenz: The new building in housing and settlement construction, illustrated using the example of the New Frankfurt. Karl-Krämer, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-7828-0514-3 .
  • Walter Müller-Wulckow: Architecture 1900–1929 in Germany. Reprint and materials for the creation. Reprints of the four Blue Books Buildings of Work and Transport (1929), Housing Buildings and Settlements (1929), Buildings of the Community (1929) and The German Apartment of the Present (1932) (= The Blue Books ). Foreword by Reyner Banham, Langewiesche, Königstein im Taunus 1999, ISBN 3-7845-8041-6 (detailed bibliography, 182 architects bio-bibliographies).
  • Tanja Poppelreuter: The new building for the new person: on the change and effect of the image of man in the architecture of the 1920s in Germany. Olms, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York, NY 2007, ISBN 978-3-487-13571-7 (dissertation Uni Frankfurt am Main 2007).
  • Claudia Quiring, Andreas Rothaus, Rainer Stamm (eds.): New architecture. Modern architecture in pictures and books . Kerber, Bielefeld 2013, ISBN 978-3-86678-877-0 .
  • Matthias Schirren : What is “German” architecture? On the debate about the New Building 1933/34. In: Peter Hahn (ed.), Christian Wolsdorff (co-workers, ed.): Bauhaus Berlin. Dessau dissolved in 1932. Berlin closed in 1933. Bauhaus members and Third Reich. A documentation. Kunstverlag Weingarten, Weingarten 1985, ISBN 3-8170-2002-3 , pp. 253-285.

Web links

Commons : Modern architecture  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Neues Frankfurt  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Erwin Gutkind: New Building. Basics of practical settlement activity. Verlag der Bauwelt, Berlin 1919.
  2. Christos Vittoratos: From a second glance: Architectural photography in the New Frankfurt. In: modern on 10x15cm the postcards of the new frankfurt. Frankfurt 2013.
  3. Publishing information