Bruno Taut

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Bruno Taut, was born in Königsberg, Germany, in 1880, he trained in Königsberg, and Berlin Charlottenburge. Taut opened his own office in Berlin in 1910 where he maintained a busy practice until the advent of World War I. During that war, he published Pacifist polemical works, some of which came out as Alpin Architectur (Alpine Architecture), showing the Alps redesigned as a gigantic task of construction, the antithesis of destructive war.

Early career

In the late 1920s, Taut gained recognition as a leader of architecture's “New Objective” school. He produced his book Modern Architecture in 1930. Following World War I, Germany experienced a critical housing shortage; at the same time, a Socialist ideology prevailed. Consequently various co-op housing societies and associations, public housing associations, and trade union housing groups were formed to build economical housing for the working classes in Berlin. Gehag (public utility homes, savings and construction company) was one of the largest such associations. It was “founded in 1919 to build housing for its members. Committed to a progressive program of modern housing, Gehag sought collaboration with modern architects and, in 1924, Bruno Taut was appointed chief architect.” Taut was instrumental in developing the Großsiedlungen (large residential community) concept for “building large garden city-type housing complexes. He had had some experience designing a similar garden city development in Magdeburg in 1912-15.” In Hufeisen alone, there are over 1000 two- to four-bedroom flats the thousand is isolated, enclosed, or denied quick access and egress. Balconies opening to the opposite side dominate the garden facades. The small openings at the top floor—a normal feature of housing of this period, light an attic space that was used for washing and storage.

His style characteristics

Taut emphasized glass and color in architecture even though color had been neglected by both architects and historians. “Taut is unique among his European modernist contemporaries in his devotion to color.” A lifelong painter, “he applied lively, clashing colors to his first major commission, the 1912 Falkenberg housing estate in Berlin, which became known as the ‘Paint Box Estates.’ The 1914 Glass Pavilion, familiar from black and white reproduction, was also brightly colored.” Taut's contribution to the 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung housing exhibition in Stuttgart differed greatly from the pure-white Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius entries. “Taut's house Number 19 was painted up in primary colors. Mies hated it.”

Insert his picture here Bruno Taut .

Taut used color for environmental, energy saving, aesthetic, and spatial effect. His approach to design was based on a belief that architecture included more than a strictly functional role, but could change and enhance the quality of life. To quote Winfried Brenne who rediscovered the colors of Taut's Berlin apartments:

“Taut always used colour to enhance architecture and give it an extra dimension. He knew that colour developed plastic effect and conferred a specific character on urban space, which helped settle it into the surrounding landscape. In everything, he strove to use colour to broaden the notion of function in architecture, in view of creating form to produce a harmonious building enhanced by a human and artistic dimension.”

And, to give Taut himself the last word on the subject: ”Before the war, I was denounced as a glass architect. In Magdeburg they called me the apostle of colour. The one is only a consequence of the other; for delight in light is the same as delight in colour.”

Insert image here Taut’s Glasspavillion, Cologne.

The Glasspavillion building was designed especially for the Werkbund Exhibition held in Cologne in 1914. Its “polygonal dome-like roof constructed of a space frame with diamond-shaped glass panels employed glass of various forms colours, and water cascades as well. It caused something of a sensation, and is his most celebrated work.” After the WWI ended, Taut became the leading light of the avant-garde and exercised influence through various writings, and cultural and professional, organizations. However, after becoming Director of Building and Planning in 1921 for Marburg, a city that was the administrative center for all of Prussia and hosted a world famous university, Taut’s Expressionist and utopian tendencies withered.

Taut on the move

Taut left Germany for the USSR in 1932 and came back in February 1933 to a very hostile political environment. He first fled to Switzerland then moved to Takasaki, Japan, where he produced three influential books on Japanese culture and architecture, and did furniture and interior design work. Offered a job as Professor of Architecture at Mimar Sinan University, Taut moved to Turkey in 1936, wrote at least one more book, and designed buildings in Ankara. Of all architects foreign and domestic, Bruno Taut was given a most esteemed commission. He was chosen to design Atatürk’s catafalque.

Insert image of the catafalque here

That turned out to be Taut’s last creation. He died prematurely shortly thereafter and is buried in Istanbul’s Martyr’s cemetery. Unfortunately, much of Taut's written work was never translated into English.


This article is based on Reisman, A. Turkey's Modernization: Refugees from Nazism and Atatürk's Vision (Washington, DC: New Academia Publishers. 2006.)

Curl, J.S. A Dictionary of Architecture. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999) 857

Curl, J.S. A Dictionary of Architecture.

Lane, B.M. (1968) Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-1945: (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968)

<>. Viewed July 30 2005.

<>. Viewed July 30 2005.

<>. Viewed October30 2005.

Sean Kisby, Bruno Taut: Architecture and Colour, Welsh School of Architecture Year 3,

<> Viewed September 26 2005

Curl 1999 p 857

Curl 1999 p 857

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