I presented my paper titled “A Study of the Study Sources of the Chinese Werkbund Meeting, 1941-42” at this year’s SAH Annual Conference in Pittsburg on April 28. Here is the paper abstract:

Part of the history of the Chinese Werkbund meetings has been documented. Historians Johann F. Geist, Klaus Kürver, and Wen-Chi Wang, in their books, for instance, touched on Häring and Scharoun’s encounters with East Asian architecture. Häring’s essay about the roof profile of Chinese traditional architecture has been translated by Peter Blundell Jones. Scharoun’s post-Chinese-Werkbund practice and writings have also been examined. The materials that Häring, Scharoun, and Lee used for their research and discussions on Chinese architecture culture, however, have been understudied to date. In fact, neither Häring nor Scharoun has visited China; their studies of Chinese architecture and town planning heavily relied on primary and secondary sources on both traditional and contemporary construction with limited availability. Among most significant materials were Richard Wilhelm’s translations of Chinese classical texts, notably I Ching and Ostasien: Werden und Wandel des Chinesischen Kulturkreises, Ernst Boerschmann’s books based on his extensive survey trips to China during the early decades of the 20th century, and essays by Dayu Doon on the Greater Shanghai Plan and the Civic Center scheme in 1935. Equally importantly, in the archives of Scharoun and Lee at Akademie der Künste, one can also find a copy of the 1932 edition of Yuanye and Ernest J. Eitel’s Feng-shui: The Rudiments of Natural Science in China (1878) as well as a considerable number of regional maps and di-fang-zhi of many Chinese cities including Kaifeng, Taiyuan, Tatung, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Shunde, to name a few. Through combing through these documents, this paper thus aims to provide a thorough explanation of how these materials and their scope and typology shaped the way in which these German modern architects engaged with and understood Chinese architecture culture and how they further clarified, if not formulated, their Neues Bauen ideas and organicist design principles. 

Posted by:Liyang DING

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