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Title: Monumentality and modernity in National Socialist architecture : the North-South Axis of the Greater Berlin plan
Author: Kuo, Hsiu-Ling
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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On 30th January 1937, Albert Speer was appointed as Generalbauinspektor (GBI, the General Building Inspector), responsible for modelling Berlin as “Germania”, the capital of the Third Reich. This project can be seen as the paradigmatic statement of National Socialist architecture. For the North-South Axis of Berlin, the GBI office collected a large variety of designs contributed by both modernists and conservative architects, from the Great Hall in the north, through the Triumphal Arch, to the South Railway Station. The mega-plan positioned Berlin at the forefront of contemporary international debate on the modern metropolis. This thesis clarifies the architectural discourse in which the Greater Berlin Project was produced. The association of monumentality with National Socialist architecture in the 1930s created a polarisation between the classical tradition and radical modernism that provoked vigorous and acrimonious debate that lasted into the 1980s. The social and cultural conditions in which Hitler and Speer’s notion of monumentality was embedded are interpreted from the perspectives of psychology, aesthetics and cultural significance. The pre-1930 designs and theories of modernist German architects paved the way for National Socialist monumentality by advocating a Neo-classical style combining historicity and technical advancement. The ambition to reconstruct Berlin as a world capital was modelled on plans developed by Speer’s modernist planning predecessor, such as Martin Mächler and Martin Wagner, and on international examples of capital reconstruction, e.g. Paris, Vienna and Washington DC. The Berlin project was thus rooted in a wider historical and international architectural context. Major projects on the North-South axis offer a diverse range of projects in which a Modernist monumentality is articulated by series of dominant, high-rise buildings. Administration buildings commissioned by private companies on the axis offer significant examples of the way in which National Socialist monumental building practice operated under the conditions of a dynamic, planned economy. The meticulously planned Südstadt - an extensive suburban residential area that completes the modern capital with houses, schools, an arena for sport and an international airport, again illustrates the fusion of monumentality and modernity that characterises the urban planning of the Third Reich.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available