Introduction of English influence

Although the protest over Munich was a symptom of an anti-restoration trend, it was not until the turn of the century that a stronger movement was under way - this time following the English example. One of the first to introduce this new approach to Germanic countries was Hermann Muthesius (18611927), an architect who loved classical music and literature - especially Goethe. He worked for a period in Japan and Italy, and from 1896 to 1903 as technical and cultural attaché in London. Here he met with William Morris, who had his studio in the neighbourhood, as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and made a systematic study of English architecture (Muthesius, 1981:42). These studies resulted in numerous articles on Morris and the training of English architects. In 1900 and 1901, he published translations of Ruskin's texts in German, followed in 1904-5 by his important Das Englische Haus, which was appreciated also by Lethaby and other English architects. In his article on restoration in Germany, in 1902, he regretted the completion of Cologne Cathedral, thinking that the original torso would have told us much more about its original builders and their overwhelming ambitions than the cold pedantic nineteenth century structure ever can do. He emphasized the documentary value of even the most modest historic structures, and considered reconstructions completely idiotic, a sort of teething trouble; it was like children who want to destroy their toys in order to see what they contain!

Maintenance instead of reconstruction; that is the general aim of conservation. Additions in the sense of an artistic completion of the ruined or missing can in no way be allowed. These could only be temporary measures, and should clearly be marked as such, i.e., not to pretend any artistic forms, and least of all anything that apes the architecture of the monument. (Muthesius, 1902)

Muthesius referred to the modern movement in England, claiming that this should be a mature basis also for dealing with historic structures. His ideas were echoed by Konrad Lange four years later. Lange emphasized that each time must produce its own architecture not trying to reach stylistic authenticity; therefore each restored piece - even without a date or inscription, must inform the observer what is ancient and what new (Lange, 1906:29). Another architect, Theodor Fischer (18621938), among the avant-garde in the use of reinforced concrete, referring to the reconstruction proposals for Heidelberg Castle, complained about the uneasy feeling of doubt that one had about authenticity in nearly all restored buildings. He considered that at least fifty restorations out of a hundred were unnecessary, merely done out of ambition to match a neighbour, or due to an exaggerated need for order. Mostly some little repair would be quite sufficient in respect of the integrity reached through history. He insisted that 'the modern exact ruler-man needs much self discipline to learn to see the harmony of the whole despite the details bleached or broken by time'.14

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