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On 22 January 2001, an important exhibition will open at the RIBA in London. It lasts until the end of February. Peter Blundell Jones, its creator (with Nasser Golzari) writes:

Hugo Haring (1882-1958) was a key figure in the development of Modern Architecture in Germany. Although he built relatively little he was a copious writer and a deep thinker, developing a theory of Organic Architecture that later proved influential through the agency of his friend and colleague Hans Scharoun (1893-1972). He believed that architecture should not be 'imposed' as a preconceived idea but rather 'discovered' in an exploration of the place and conditions that the building is intended to serve. This laid an important emphasis on process rather than product, and on the expression of the task as opposed to the personal expression of the architect.

Since inspiration was to be found in the functional programme for the building, Haring has also been called 'the most extreme of functionalists' but his attitude was far from utilitarian. He wanted an architecture that responded to immediate conditions and therefore reflected them: an architecture of the utmost appropriateness. In his view the greatest obstacle to a building becoming what it needed to become was the imposition of 'geometry'. Whether this took the form of an axial methodology like that of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a systematic grid like that of the Rationalists, or a Platonic belief in pure forms and proportions as held by Le Corbusier, Raring saw imposed geometry as a straitjacket cramping a building's natural development. His critique of these methods was important for the attention it drew to a central issue for the Modern Movement: Gestaltung or form-making.

Haring was also important in the politics of Modern architecture in Germany. When he arrived in Berlin in the early 1920s he became friendly with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and for some years the two shared an office. Together in the mid 1920s they set up The Ring, an organization of architects which counted among its members all the main German Modernists, and which paved the way for CIAM. Haring was the Ring's secretary, organizing its exhibitions and publications, and he also wrote polemical articles on contemporary issues in architectural politics. He and Mies shared a common conviction that the way forward in architecture was a return to first principles, but they each worked on their own projects, and from the beginning Mies pursued a somewhat reductive interest in simple and universal design solutions while Haring in contrast sought his territory more definitely, and Haring's position remains important as the defining antithesis to Mies's.

While Mies's background lay in the Neo-Classicism of Peter Behrens and the much earlier work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Haring had been taught by the great South-German planner and contextualist Theodor Fischer, who drew on the city planning theories of Camillo Sitte and the pan-European tendency of National Romanticism. Mies and Haring thus extended a debate from the previous generation, a debate that has continued in some ways to this day. It is about the advantages and disadvantages of repeatable building types as opposed to the unique building dedicated to place and purpose, and also whether architecture should be contingent or transcendent. Similarly still in flux are questions about the need for flexibility and the appropriate use of the machine. A surprising amount of work in the eighty or so years that have elapsed since Mies and Haring met to discuss architecture can be seen as an extension of their discussion.
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Title Annotation:Hugo Haring
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:HELSINKI HEART.

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