What distinguishes this book is the emphasis that Blundell Jones gives to the transitional phases that Scharoun's buildings went through until their final form emerges. The first chapters are dominated by his vibrant watercolours, stimulated by contact with Taut and Behne as if these, and not the early buildings themselves, comment on the development of his work.
Later, Scharoun seems to have been influenced by Mendelsohn, and his plans first take on the dynamic amorphism that led him to Hugo Haring and his own style. By the time of his Weissenhof exhibition house - arrived at through a long process of revision - he is demonstrably an independent voice alongside the neighbouring anti-localising rationalists such as Mies and Gropius.
As post-war German architecture is re-evaluated (and, among other things, one realises that the ascetic boxes of the 1950s were actually a style and not some public act of contrition) one can distinguish the role played by Germans beyond the Bauhaus in the development of modern architectural thought. The accepted view is that they provided a stern counterpoint to the sunny Graeco-Roman romanticism of Le Corbusier: this book suggests a more interesting picture. Scharoun's school-cities, like Haring's 'organ-like' buildings and Taut's crystal-crowned mountain-tops, lie behind some of the emotional yearnings of today's post-internationalists and late-modernists, and the unresolved clashes of hard and soft (such as at Gunter Behnisch's new Bundestag) are actually the descendants of a German tradition that is marked by Scharoun's city plan for Berlin of 1946, and the stiff eastern spine and spilling western innards of his State Library. This is a first-rate study, imaginatively and inspiringly (as well as competently) written, properly illustrated and stylishly designed.
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|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1995|
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