Industrial architecture and politics in Wilhelmine Germany
This thesis examines the industrial architecture of Imperial Germany in the context of the wider economic and political power struggles of the Wilhelmine era. Written against the backdrop of a lively and ongoing debate on the relative 'modernity' of the Kaiserreich, the main focus falls on two separate but related movements, which campaigned to improve the character of industrial architecture for political, commercial and environmental, as well as aesthetic reasons: the 'Bund Heimatschutz', founded in 1904, and the 'Werkbund' , established three years later. Both organisations developed in opposition to historicism in late 19th century architecture and design. The reformers, who included laymen as well as architects, sought an architecture more "worthy' of the German 'Bürgertum' than the hybrid historical styles, applied to buildings regardless of function or location, which had come to characterise the German 'Gründerzeit'. The 'Heimatschutz' movement lobbied successfully for the introduction of legislation to protect the landscape from the worst ravages of urbanisation and industrial development. The thesis suggests that the general view of 'Heimatschutz' activists, as 'cultural pessimists' opposed to modernisation in all its guises, is inaccurate, and highlights the more pragmatic strand of 'Heimatschutz' thought, which influenced the design of many industrial structures in the 1900s, particularly those erected by local authorities. The bulk of the thesis, however, concentrates on the 'Werkbund'; an organisation whose members proved remarkably successful at winning commissions from Germany industry in the years before 1918. Particular stress is placed on the role played in the organisation by the politician Friedrich Naumann and his followers. It is argued that the 'Werkbund's policy of promoting 'quality' in the German workplace was an integral part of Naumann's political reform programme. The thesis describes the adoption of the 'Werkbund's progressive architecture by a number of leading manufacturing firms, and seeks an explanation in the rivalries which divided German industry at the turn of the century. It concludes with a short study of architecture, industry and municipal politics in Delmenhorst, a small town in the throes of modernisation.