Review for Eckehard Janofske’s Architektur-Räume: Idee und Gestalt bei Hans Scharoun published by Braunschweig in 1984.

Janofske offered the first thorough work explaining the spatial construct and its implications of Scharoun’s architectural work. The books’s objective is to explicate Scharoun’s spatial conception, demonstrating that Scharoun’s theory, despite its own originality and significance, was actually developed out of that of Hugo Haring, which came to maturity around as early as 1925.

Like the title of Scharoun’s talk at the Darmstadt conference in 1951, the central concern of his architectural creation is “man and space,” the action of man in space and his relation to space. Janofske, a young architect born in 1950, in his book expounds the nature of Scharoun’s conception of space through scrutinizing three projects, Haus Mohrmann in Berlin, Geschwister-School-Gymnasium in Lünen, and the Philharmonic Concert Hall in Berlin.

Scharoun has nowhere fully explained his conception of space, but the following can be seen as a very good attempt made by the author to characterize it,

“In Scharoun’s rooms, the viewer is not assigned a particular location, such as the center of a circular space or the symmetry axis of a rectangular space. In them neither the known geometrical forms nor any geometrical laws can be recognized so that no place in space is of outstanding importance. Rather, any location in the room is possible.Not only on the level which delimits it but also from different levels in space can the space be experienced from below, from above and from the sides in all directions, for it is in the ideal case by stairs of all kinds and galleries in its three dimensions. This is a decisive factor in the relationship between space and man. The fact that space does not provide a better place is that man is always at the center of the space…. It is closely connected with how the space is experienced. The space built up on geometrical laws represents an image independent of the observer. The idea of it can be gained in isolation from a subjectively experienced experience of space, for the geometrical space is to be fully understood adhoc. He is already a priori in the memory of him who experiences him, for the viewer recognizes in him a familiar form. In contrast, the position of Scharoun’s space is formed by successive experiences, while the viewer moves within him. In doing so, he perceives only the parts of the space that his eye grasps. Only with the help of his memory can he imagine him completely. To this extent, manis not opposed to the spaces of Scharoun, but he experiences them while he is moving within them. It is thus actively involved in the spatial formation process. Scharoun describes this as follows: ‘Space is only through the man who experiences and fulfills him (….).” [58, P. Phankuch,277]

The lack of a specific standpoint favors this form of reception of space. Not fixed to a certain point in the room, the viewer is encouraged to move around the room… The motif of the man moving in space is more or less contained in most of Scharoun’s buildings, and at least this has been the case for the projects that have emerged since the mid-thirties. Small buildings such as Haus Mohrmann are no exception.

Scharoun uses two basic patterns in the organization of the spatial structure. One is the space in which a multitude of stairs, galleries, pedestals are arranged, so that man can move visibly at different levels in space for the others. The foyers of the Philharmonic are probably the most significant example of this. The other basic pattern is that of the street,alley or promenade in the building, i.e. an element borrowed from the city center, designed specifically to accommodate movement sequences. It has been used in the Geschwister-Gymnasium.” (114) (my translation)

Posted by:Liyang DING

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