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Nazi architecture


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Architecture of the Hitlerian Third Reich in Germany (1933–45), basically of three types: a stripped Neo-Classicism, as in works by Kreis and Speer; a vernacular style drawing on rural and especially Alpine types; and a simple, utilitarian, industrialized type for factories. Speer's megalomaniac master-plan for the north–south axis of Berlin (1937–45) was unrealized, although his New Chancellery, Berlin (1938–9—demolished), was a fine essay in stripped Classicism with an ingenious plan. March's impressive Olympic Stadium, Berlin (1934–6), was a fresh adaptation of a Classical theme. Bonatz's Autobahn (motorway) bridges were monumental, with elegant geometries. Apartment-blocks (of which many examples survive) were generally of a standardized type, with casement windows, grey-rendered walls, and pitched roofs. However, it should be emphasized that the National Socialist German Workers' Party had a pluralistic attitude to architecture, and saw no reason to object to the use of steel and glass in factory design. Hitler himself (who had no time for what he called ‘stupid imitations of the past’) believed that form should follow function: Government and State buildings were to be in a simplified, even rudimentary Neo-Classical style; social housing, hostels, etc. would conform to local vernacular traditions; Party schools and buildings around ‘Party Forums’, or squares for parades, would be cold, stark, and functional; and structures such as airports, railway stations, factories, and Autobahn service stations and bridges, should be clean and Modernist. Hitler, it should be remembered, would have nothing to do with Romantic eccentricity or anachronistic buildings: he particularly drew attention, in a conversation with Giesler, to the need for Autobahn service stations to declare, by their design, that they ‘fuelled autos’, not ‘gave water’ to horses.

P. Adam (1992);L. Krier (ed.) (1985);Larsson (1983);Rohrbach (1936);Speer (1970);Spotts (2002);Taylor (1974);Troost (1941)

Subjects: Architecture.


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