The architecture of social reform

Housing, tradition, and German modernism

Author: Isabel Rousset

This book constitutes the first major study of tradition as a field of political and cultural contestation in modern architectural culture. Examining German-language design theory from 1848 to 1918, Rousset traces the diverse and fascinating efforts by architectural reformists to confront class antagonism through the provision of simple, traditionally minded domestic design. Based on extensive original research and copiously illustrated, The architecture of social reform introduces readers to a host of modern architects, urbanists, reform experts, and art critics, including Gottfried Semper, Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, Karl Henrici, Josef Stübben, Camillo Sitte, Rudolf Eberstadt, Walter Curt Behrendt, Werner Hegemann, Karl Scheffler, Hermann Muthesius, Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Albert Gessner, Albert E. Brinckmann, and Paul Mebes, who sought to reform housing along traditionalist lines from the scale of the living room to that of the city-region.

Countering the narrative that tradition signified the last breath of an eclectic and defunct historicism, The architecture of social reform breaks new ground in the assessment of modern architecture by revealing how architects and other design experts engaged with tradition in order to stake out a socially progressive position for themselves while learning from the past.

Readers interested in continuing debates over the future of architecture, housing, and politics will find this book essential reading.

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