Posts Tagged 'Historicism'

personal bauhaus -1

bauhaus 01

Ok ok, it’s been a bit too flowery around here in the latest posts. So let’s go back to the roots of our own private interpretation of “Prussian Altbau grows bauhaus with a little help from recycling and IKEA”.

In our flat we had excellent raw materials to work with. First of all, a century-old oak herringbone parquet, restored to its glorious beauty. Oh, if you could hear the sound of it!

The flat has indeed great bones, namely its 4-metres-high walls. After lots, lots of research, we chose a warm shade of gray, in order to make the cold North-German winter light seem warmer. I agree with Bruno Taut: even under the strictest bauhaus constraints, white in Germany is treacherous, it can turn to “gray-ish white” very easily. White is abbacinante in Italy (can’t find the proper word in English…light so strong it makes you blind), but we feared it may turn into psychiatric-hospital mood under the Berlin sky…especially on bare walls.

I quite like the way – in Germany, mainly – wood is being refrigerated by adding stainless steel. I don’t know if this is quintessential to bauhaus, but it definitely is for me. This is the rationale for the IKEA table with stainless steel U-shaped legs, and for the cantilevered chairs found at a second-hand store, little Marcel Breuer mongrels with a couple of Wassily genes. You saw them dusty in previous posts.

Talking about stainless steel, MeinMann is still skeptical on this solution, maybe as a character in a novel in the ’30s who described this furniture as “dentists’ style”. We well see how we get along with these objects.

And the french doors? They match our Prussian beautiful bow-window, the stucco on the ceiling, all things which are so un-bauhaus. But even during bauhaus, people didn’t throw in the bin their Jugendstil apartments. The flats transitioned from one style to another. The Altbau was born under Historicismus, was raised under Jugendstil, but I like to imagine that it became adult and independent only with the bauhaus, in the ’30s.

worm, chrysalis and butterfly…

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This is the butterfly…a bedroom full of light, the bed facing an enormous double window overlooking the chestnut trees, new oak floor and travertino paint for the walls.

cimg0127…the necessary chrysalis…

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And this was the ugly worm we bought…poor thing it was ugly but with lots of potential! This is the same room as above, here as a post-war kitchen.

Before the war each floor of this Altbau had just 2 enormous buergerlich flats, with chambres de bonne and the like. Each flat was then divided in 3 flats. Our worm – pardon, our Flat – didn’t have any bedroom, just a big living room with a bow-window, a kitchen and bath both with windows, and a roomy dark corridor for a total of 54sqm.

We torn the wall down (even if we never liked Reagan, we did as he said 😀 ) and transformed the neighbouring bath and kitchen into a nice bedroom with a superb double window.

So now The Flat has a double bedroom and, thanks to our architect, the living room goes back to its pre-war destination. (Er…what about kitchen and bathroom then?!)

inflation: if it’s not behind you…it’s ahead

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109339958 Today in the office I had a nice discussion about the risks of the come-back of double-digit inflation down the road in a couple of years or so, something that we kids of the 70s recall when shopping with our mums at the supermarket.

To me back then it seemed NORMAL that prices of pasta Barilla and Nutella would change every week or so, I did try to desperately memorize the prices but it wasn’t worth the effort. We had then mini-assegni, funny wannabe banknotes-in-lieu-of-coins, something I hear is back in fashion in the US these days. Early 90s, freshly graduated, my first image of London was one of building societies changing daily the interest rates on the window-displays, and I clearly remember that it was in the double-digits (and starting with a “2”).

The discussion ended with “it was all the fault of the Versailles Treaty, it paved the way for disaster for poor Weimar young and sexy Republik…then things went sour”.

Or, as in Tom Tykwer’s “The International”, big debts are big crow bars….

Even if I do not particularly like the new Herald Tribune web edition layout, I do looove the fact that now when using the SEARCH function you can dig deep and directly in the PDFedded archives of the New York Times… there are very interesting articles for useful meditation…which remind me of hedge funds buying single-handedly entire blocks in East Berlin from the helicopter only a few quarters ago, or individual investors buying flats on the basis of the Expose’ and looking up the property only on Google Earth, and not by stepping in the Kiez and walking up the Treppe of the Vorderhaus.

There were neither copters, nor Google Earth back in 1922, indeed turbolent times and postdemocracies are back in Europe…and Angela may be quite right in fearing the comeback of those zeroes by the kilo.

Staring at stairs…

I have discovered today a beautiful stairs blog...full of great pictures by those like us who stare at stairs …

cimg0052-macchia

So these are the Altbau’s stairs, in massive black oak…all the way from 1914 to nowadays…they are such a beauty!

It’s sooo 1914!

At the bookstore in the Hauptbahnhof we discovered an exceptional Berlin guide: Berlin – The Architecture Guide, by Verlagshaus Braun. It’s a pillar of our bookshelf in Berlin.

Thanks to this book we were able to understand how Berlin went from trading post to capital at the end of 1700, which development logic drove the decision-makers and how the single villages “melted” into Berlin, decade after decade. We were also in the position to understand better to which architectural fashion our Altbau belongs.

The most interesting chapter for me is the Historicism period, from 1876 to 1918, when Berlin became the political, economic and cultural centre of Germany. The most representative architect of the time is Ludwig Hoffmann, who built in Berlin more than Schinkel and whose motto was:
“All those of us who have dedicated our lives to building are unified by the same goal: we wish to give form to the yearning for beauty”. Cool, uh?

The chapter also explains the genesis of the typical berlinese tenement building and helps a lot in understanding the structure of the majority of Berlin’s flats, with their inter-connecting yards.

“Wilmersdorf and Schoeneberg also saw breathtaking growth in new street networks, interspersed with decorative squares (Viktoria-Louise Platz)”.  In the same period also the Reichstag and the Berliner Dom were built. “The drive for the decorative saw a blooming in the city (…) These novelties are often described as a preliminary stage for the Modernist era of the 1920s”.

This book is a must-have for flat-hunters and urban trekkers, as it spans from baroque to plattenbauten, from interbau to Renzo Piano…


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