Bruno Taut  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Bruno Julius Florian Taut (May 4, 1880, Königsberg, Germany - December 24, 1938, Istanbul), was a prolific German architect, urban planner and author active in the Weimar period.

Taut is best known in the English-speaking world for his theoretical work, speculative writings and a handful of exhibition buildings. Taut's best-known single building is the prismatic dome of the Glass Pavilion at the Cologne Werkbund Exhibition (1914). His sketches for "Alpine Architecture" (1917) are the work of an unabashed Utopian visionary, and he is variously classified as a Modernist and an Expressionist.

This reputation does not accurately reflect Taut's extensive body of built work and his social and practical accomplishments.

After training in Berlin and joining the office of Theodor Fischer in Stuttgart, Taut opened his own Berlin office in 1910. The elder architect Hermann Muthesius suggested that he visit England to understand the garden city movement. This trip would have a lasting impact. Muthesius would also introduce him to some of the figures of the Deutscher Werkbund, including Walter Gropius. Taut had socialist leanings, and before WWI, this hindered his advancement.

After the war, Taut completed two housing projects in Magdeburg from 1912 through 1915, directly influenced by the humane functionalism and urban design solutions of the garden city movement. He served as city architect in Magdeburg from 1921 to 1923.

In 1924 he was made chief architect of GEHAG, a private housing concern, and designed several successful large residential developments ("Gross-Siedlungen") in Berlin, notably the 1925 Horseshoe Development ("Hufeisensiedlung"), named for its configuration around a pond, and the 1926 Uncle Tom's Cabin Development ("Onkel-Toms Hutte") in Zehlendorf, oddly named for a local restaurant and set in a thick grove of trees. The designs featured controversially modern flat roofs, humane access to sun, air and gardens, and generous amenities like gas, electric light, and bathrooms. Critics on the political Right complained that these developments were too opulent for 'simple people'. The progressive Berlin mayor Gustav Böss defended them: "We want to bring the lower levels of society higher."

Taut's team completed over 12,000 dwellings between 1924 and 1931. GEHAG is still in business, and has a horseshoe as its logo as tribute to Taut.

Taut worked in the Soviet Union in 1932 and 1933, and came home in February 1933 to a hostile political environment. He fled to Switzerland, then Takasaki in 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 "State Academy of Fine Arts" in Istanbul (currently, Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts), Taut moved to Turkey in 1936. Until his premature death in 1938, he wrote at least one more book and designed a number of educational buildings in Ankara and Trabzon after being commissioned by the Turkish Ministry of Education. The most significant of these buildings were the "Faculty of Languages, History and Geography" at Ankara University, "Ankara Atatürk High School" and "Trabzon High School". Taut's final work one month before his death was the catafalque used for the official state funeral of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on 21 November 1938 in Ankara.

A lifelong painter, Taut is unique among his European modernist contemporaries in his devotion to color. 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 distinction from his Modernist contemporaries was never clearer than at the 1927 Weissenhofsiedlung housing exhibition in Stuttgart: as opposed to pure-white entries from Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius, Taut's house (Number 19) was painted in primary colors.

Much of Taut's work in German remains untranslated to English.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bruno Taut" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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