Functionalist Façades

Janet Ward

in Weimar Surfaces

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2001 | ISBN: 9780520222984
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924734 | DOI:
Functionalist Façades

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The renewal of façade lent a confidently visible, tangible tone to the “world-city spirit” sought for Berlin, staging itself as a metropolis of the world. It emerged as a cleansing motion from the late nineteenth century's phase of extravagant decoration, the swan song of which was the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition, with its incredible complexity. In contrast, modern architecture was intended as the promotion of a structure's face without need for any (extra, hence inauthentic) mask. This chapter examines the visual articulations and social-cumaesthetic consequences of modern architecture's surface-voiding technique, especially in its Weimar German apogee. Modern architecture's reenvisioning of the façade constituted a unique historical moment, when the relation between built space and the functioning of society was as closely matched as it has ever been (before or since). The discussion presented in this chapter serves as an exegetical rediscovery of the very new sense of spatiality invoked by modern architecture, and of the utterly credible sense of freedom inspired by European modernity's stringent clearing of the façade.

Keywords: Berlin; Weimar; Wilhelmine; modernity; Germans

Chapter.  17525 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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