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January 15, 2010

Scharoun, Hans (1893-1972)

Hans Scharoun was born in Bremen, Germany in 1893. He received his early architectural education at the Technical University Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1912-14. After World War I helped reconstruct East Prussia – a work he was engaged with till 1925. He joined Bruno Taut’s Expressionist circle and contributed to the ‘Glass Chain’ correspondence. Many of his plans remained dreams, sketchy concepts. Only very few of his concepts were actually built though his entries to architectural competitions attracted attention.

During World War II Scharoun remained in Germany where he participated in Haring’s art school Kunst und Werk. He was engaged in the Planning Committee for Berlin, and in 1946 he presented his concept for the reconstruction of Berlin. In 1955 he helped re-established the Berlin Arts Academy. Although he won many competitions in this time, few of his designs were actually built.

In 1963 Scharoun built his first major building, the Philharmonie in Berlin which was inaugurated a few weeks after his 70th birthday, on October 15. Forming part of the Kultureforum which included the state library by him and a national art gallery by Mies, Scharoun envisaged that this forum would eventually be the centre of a reunited Berlin. Later a chamber music hall was added in the same style after his death by his associate Edgar Wisniewski.

Because of the acclaim that the Philharmonie received, he gained a wave of new commissions. In most of his later works, Scharoun displayed an aggressive articulation of parts. He felt the parts of a building had to be like ‘individuals in a democracy’ who contribute to the whole while retaining their own identities. Scharoun died in Berlin in 1972.

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