Germany

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1968

The venue for the comprehensive exhibition of OM Lingers' work late in 2006, Berlin's New National Gallery became the symbolic meeting point of two generations of German Rationalist architecture.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1968

The venue for the comprehensive exhibition of OM Lingers' work late in 2006, Berlin's New National Gallery became the symbolic meeting point of two generations of German Rationalist architecture.

Rationalism in the New Germany

After the war, normative Modernist architecture, partly reimported from the US, was further consolidated, at least in West Germany. 'Officially' uncontaminated by the Nazi regime, this sober Rationalism served as an adequate architecture for a war-torn country. As early as 1930, one of its most influential protagonists, Hans Schwippert, had assisted Rudolf Schwarz in designing the exceptional formal purity of his Corpus Christi Church in Aachen. Schwippert's plain Parliament building in Bonn (1949) was later to become a central symbol of the 'new' Germany, alluding (so it seemed) in its simplicity and transparency to both humility and a democratic spirit.

A similar vein of thinking characterised the German Pavilion designed for the 1958 World Expo in Brussels (by Egon Eiermann and Sep Ruf). Pursuing a Miesian language throughout his career, Eiermann became something of a custodian for the Modernist tradition in postwar Germany, since its most important precursors had emigrated during the Nazi period. Furthermore, like the late Mies he was working with a distinct Rationalist approach, emphasising not only a strict order and the refinement of elegantly reduced construction, but the necessity to work with variations of basic types.

However, it was Mies himself who built the emblematic statement of German Rationalism, the New National Gallery

OM Ungers, Friedrichstadt Passage Block 205, Berlin, 1996

After reunification, Ungers' Neorationalism became the dominant architectural style during the reconstruction of Berlin's Friedrichstadt.

OM Ungers, Friedrichstadt Passage Block 205, Berlin, 1996

After reunification, Ungers' Neorationalism became the dominant architectural style during the reconstruction of Berlin's Friedrichstadt.

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