Mein München - Geschichten aus der Stadt (German Edition)
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Initially, the building society offered just one product, a single outcome of the savings plan: mortgage loans for the single-family house. The detached house, therefore, advertised this savings plan for a mortgage. To this day, Mein Eigenheim remains one of the leading customer magazines in Germany, with a print run of 1. Other building societies were soon producing similar magazines; for instance, Bau und Wirtschaft Construction and Economy was first issued by Bausparkasse Mainz in The majority of the houses financed through the mortgages of building society subscribers were privately built homes in suburban and rural areas.
While building societies are recognised for their importance in financing new housing Kuhn —80 for standard housing types in homestead settlements and post-war planned developments Jessen and Simon , the existing literature offers no investigation of the self-initiated production of detached houses that is a typical trait of the housing built by building society subscribers.
Self-provision, a term first defined by Duncan and Rowe , designates self-organised activities by households to initiate the construction of their house. In this way, they act as developers of their own homes. Households seek out the necessary finance, buy the building plot, commission architects and handicrafts workers, and supervise the construction of their owner-occupied house Duncan and Rowe — According to Duncan and Rowe, self-provided houses were more affordable than commercial developments.
Costs would be saved through sweat equity, meaning that owner-occupiers could avoid paying profits and overheads to builders and developers In Germany, the majority of suburban single-family houses built in the second half of the 20th century were self-provided and, to a large extent, even self-built Duncan and Rowe From the outset, the mode of self-provision has been crucial for homebuilders who employ saving plans.
Articles in early issues of Mein Eigenheim include arguments against the public provision of housing through fiscal means. Instead, collective financial self-help is endorsed as a voluntary choice. GdF supported the self-provision of housing not just through loans, but also by offering advice to future homeowners, including planning advice and useful information regarding traditional house construction and optimised design.
It can thus be argued that GdF was an important actor in initiating and shaping the culture of self-provision in Germany, which has the highest share of self-provided housing in Europe Dol, Lennartz and De Decker ; National Self Build Association The financial value and construction quality of the home played an important role during the repayment phase of the loan, as the house and its underlying plot guaranteed the mortgage. GdF endorsed thoughtful, optimised design and robust construction that would result in both a stable investment for its savers and affordable homes.
To achieve these goals and to ensure a well-organised process for its customers, GdF adopted three strategies: the use of typified plans, the provision of consultancy, and the publication of a customer magazine with practical information on house construction. Mortgage contracts prescribed the use of standardised plans provided by GdF.
A set of twelve homes designed by architect Gustav Daucher, for example, was published in , showing a collection of plans, interior views, photographs of actual homes and descriptions of conceptual designs, all of which anticipated the structured representations of model homes later published in Mein Eigenheim. If subscribers submitted their own designs, the building society would appraise the plans and cost estimates, and the building society then provided further advice, via consultants, during the construction phase Kropp a ; Kropp a. These consultants were located at information centres that GdF established for its subscribers.
The publications — magazines and books, begun in the early s — supplemented the personal assistance the consultants provided and were a crucial instrument for educating subscribers in the design of affordable and functional homes. Eventually, these realised homes became the main content in the publications, while a standardised format for their presentation became established. The format for portraying and promoting single-family homes remained unchanged until the end of the s: visual information, including photographs and floor plans, and short descriptions.
By the mids, additional formal housing types had begun to appear in the magazine, and eventually larger homes and bungalows came to replace the small house. The frequency and variation of house types that occur in the magazines demonstrate that owner-occupiers of the GdF were more interested in certain types, including the Kleinhaus , than others. The curatorial choices the magazine editors made to present these types, from an abundance of comparable built examples, show how formal types were reframed through abstraction and standardisation.
Over time, with the continual representing and reshaping of distinct features and selected residential types, actual buildings were transformed into model homes. But how does customer preference and curatorial choice affect the eventual creation of model home types, and which comes first? They identified three aspects of a building type involved in the process of differentiating and creating types: material, imaginal and conceptual Material place types are socially constructed and materially present but not always physically constructed The conceptual aspect of type is integral to the discursive, representational and classification actions applied to material and imaginal types Schneekloth and Franck 21— The material, imaginal and conceptual types operate when dwellers occupy, name, image, invent, modify and represent buildings types.
In the case of the homes of the GdF owner-occupiers, owner-occupiers first establish material place types through the initial construction of detached houses. And finally, the continued portrayal of built examples as model homes in print constitutes the conceptual aspect of types. As an ongoing process within the production and habitation of dwellings, the representation of buildings plays an important role in type operations.
The changes in how these homes are depicted over time correspond with changes in the houses, too. The main goal of housing policy during the Weimar era was to resolve the housing shortage by boosting the stock of affordable and adequate dwellings. That policy also intended to create jobs in the construction sector and provide housing subsidies, although during this period, the promotion of home ownership was not on the political agenda Ruck Throughout the s, the main topic of Mein Eigenheim was how to reduce the construction costs of the Kleinhaus and make it as affordable as possible.
Recommendations include the careful consideration of housing requirements.
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The magazine points out the importance of precise building specifications and architectural plans, and that detailed specifications should be used when commissioning a building company under a fixed price contract. Descriptions of the Kleinhaus in the magazines of this time reveal an emerging set of desirable features. Later, even though the houses retain traditional features such as tiled and steeply pitched roofs and windows with shutters, the general forms are very much reduced in complexity and devoid of an avant-corps.
The layout of the houses featured in the magazine is now based on simple rectangular or square shapes, but rather than favouring a continuous open space, the plans show a separation of space into rooms that are each accessible from a central hallway. Kitchens, lavatories and small walk-in spaces are distinct from larger rooms. Bedrooms are located both on the ground floor and in the attic.
The function of a room and the space within it is defined by symbols for furnishings and fittings as well as room names. A garden is added because it complements the modest house size, though again, the plans convey a very clear separation of indoor and outdoor spaces: the garden, which can only be accessed from the main entrance, is not on the same level as the ground floor. The houses are clearly the primary object of interest in the photographs; the houses fill the frame, and the the context appears to be mostly cropped out. The front gardens are barely visible, and the pavement and road are just detectable in the foreground.
The occasional family photographed in front of their home seems small compared to the size of the house. Some of these images were probably taken by the homeowners, rather than by professional photographers, which may account for the issues of scale and lack of context Figures 3 and 4. From to Mein Eigenheim continued to provide information on the building society and to report on a few houses, but it also included articles promoting Nazi ideology. The primary way model homes were published during this period was instead through books, compendiums that feature up to fifty dwellings.
Each model home is allocated several pages and presented through photographs of the exterior, usually on the first page, along with short paragraphs of text and then section diagrams and plans Figure 5. The houses are no longer the dominant subject in the photographs; more context is provided, with particular agendas. Photographs are composed with buildings in the centre, surrounded by gardens and vegetation. The rural landscape is visible in the background of some images, while others show houses as part of a larger settlement. With rare exceptions, however, streets continue to be excluded from view.
The photograph of a house with a garden for subsistence farming and showing men working in the fields illustrates that settlements are also for the unemployed. A house in Dresden Lockwitz, built in The text, in addition to providing advice on how to reduce construction costs, itemises the rooms on the ground floor, describing their position in relation to other rooms and the access to the different parts of the house.
The text also explains the floor plans, so the reader understands the spatial arrangement of the houses. The distinction between common rooms on the ground floor and individualised intimate space in the attic, which had been introduced in the late s, disappears.
The ground floor plans contain both common rooms and bedrooms, and the functional specification of spaces is now less pronounced. Many floor plans only show room names and symbols for fittings. The housing market in West Germany only began to revive following the currency reform of The houses presented in the magazine between and are similar to the pre-war house types.
However, photographs, floor layouts and descriptions all show that the house designs, while still modest, are no longer driven by considerations of subsistence and thrift. The fruit and vegetable garden is transformed into a decorative garden featuring flowering plants, and is increasingly seen as forming a continuous unit with the house Figures 6 and 7. The outdoor space features canopied terraces, small courtyards and, in some cases, even garages.
Similarly, the floor plan, garden layout and description all emphasise the garden as an extension of indoor living areas. This continuity between outdoor and indoor space is highlighted by the graphics in the drawings for the ground floor plan. Icons for vegetation and patterns for paved surfaces, open to the air and next to exterior walls, suggest an intertwining of house and garden. The ground floor, with several interconnected common rooms, is conceived as a gathering space for inhabitants. While the reports still refer to familiar topics such as affordability and construction costs, the descriptions also include one novel use of the single-family house: to entertain business partners in the private atmosphere of the home.
Photograph by Heddenhausen. Mein Eigenheim began to feature colour photography in the mids Figure 8. In the period that followed, the template for presenting model homes became more standardised and sophisticated. The photographs, in particular, are now carefully staged, relying not on simple images of houses but focusing on their attractiveness. The house moves into the background to make room for the garden as the dominating visual feature. Flowers are shown in full bloom in the foreground, sometimes accompanied by specific household items signifying leisure time, such as lounge chairs and parasols.
The houses and gardens are, with rare exceptions, all photographed during spring or early summer, thus capturing flowers and trees in their optimal state. Some images from the late s portray houses as solitary structures, positioned in front of attractive natural backgrounds, such as pastures and forests or distant mountains.
Unlike early presentations, which usually featured only one black-and-white photograph of the exterior of the house, the presentations of model homes from the s also include images of the interior. Family groups are rarely shown in these pictures. Instead, people alone, in pairs or in groups sit at a table inside or outside or relax on a lounger.
They are involved in leisure activities, reading or simply sitting at the table and chatting. Household tasks such as gardening, cleaning, cooking or maintenance are not shown. A Kleinhaus built by two retired sisters and planned by architect J. Photographs by H. While pre-war photographs conveyed the message that owning a house is an accomplishment in itself, by the mids the focus of the illustrations turned to the amenities and lifestyle activities linked to home ownership.
The images suggest that homeowners enjoy a wealth of spare time to spend in their gardens and living rooms. Moreover, one novel exterior element appears in the photographs: the balcony on the gable wall. These two factors — leisure time and outdoor spaces not intended for use of several people, such as balconies, which are attached to individual rooms — reflect larger societal shifts. During these boom years, the working week became shorter, and house owners could afford to build outdoor spaces, such as balconies and loggias, not intended for family use, in addition to the garden, which was used by all household members.
Floor plans show that the ground floor is now used exclusively for shared household activities, while the attic is reserved for private bedrooms and bathrooms.
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The division between shared activities and representational spaces spaces for display or for entertaining only on the ground floor, and intimate, individual spaces on the upper floor is now firmly established. Similarly, the layout of the ground floor is determined by the spatial arrangement of different rooms. While rooms are still enclosed, the general character of the home is spatially more open.
The direct access to the garden from the living room is a novel feature. The use of graphics in ground-floor plans highlights the continuity between outdoor and indoor space, and icons for vegetation and patterns for paved outdoor surfaces next to the exterior walls seem to suggest a closer integration of house and garden than was seen in the previous decade.
The consistent inclusion of three elements — photographs, descriptions and particularly floor plans — is crucial to the presentation of the individual detached house. While the photographs from the early period are simplistic, with little consideration for composition, later photographs of the houses are carefully arranged, presenting the garden as the chief attribute of the single-family home, along with specific artefacts such as garden furniture and parasols to evoke an atmosphere of leisure.
The text accompanying the photographs does not convey messages about proper living or anything about family constellations, however, but instead matter-of-factly explains how to reduce construction costs and to better communicate with the architect. The text also works as a guide for the average homeowner to understand the parameters of a house, although not the size and location of the plot.
Many publications provide information on building volume and the cost of construction. They also include descriptions of the functional uses of different rooms and the organisation of the circulation. Especially after , the spatial arrangement of rooms is also frequently restated in the main text, where the functional specifications of the house are emphasised. The text reveals that the functions of different levels and rooms and the continuities or divisions of space are predefined, all aspects that are also illustrated by the more technically presented floor plans.
These plans are highly abstract and standardised, in drawings that could, in fact, be classified as diagrams. From the outset, floor layouts are used in a systematic way — the design brief for the house, the programme of the building. The majority of plans include designations of the intended function of rooms and symbols for furnishings and fittings.
The floor layout also presents a specific arrangement of rooms, zones and circulation areas, along with the location of building services. In the case of the single-family home, the plan even allocates certain members of the household to certain rooms, assigning tasks, duties and roles to each family member. However, the process of selection was not disclosed, and it remains unclear how the photo-shoots on location were organised, or if the plans provided by homeowners were redrawn.
Careful study of the articles in the magazine nevertheless reveals a coherent approach behind the selection and presentation of model homes: The aim is to transmit educational messages and to deploy marketing goals. Each of the three elements — plans, photographs and descriptions — are perceived differently. The narrative of the texts gradually unfolds in a linear way. Floor plans are recognised through a process of gradual decoding comparable to reading but are also perceived through immediate and measured effects similar to the cognition of photographs.
The three elements, texts, plans and photographs, reframe the real house as an idealised, model home. The descriptions and plans are educational instruments, transmitting the notions of preferred house design and ways of construction that the GdF endorsed. Their message is practical: if the model homes, which the magazine articles frame as affordable and well designed, are replicated, home ownership will become a feasible option in a not-too-distant future. Through representation in the magazine, the editors transform the actual home a building society member builds; the editors choose it, present it and discuss it.
As a model home, the house then not only becomes a marketing tool to sell more mortgages, but it also acts as an educational instrument, indirectly depicting successful practices which are to be reproduced: saving, learning to read floor plans and planning for, calculating and eventually enjoying the benefits of homeownership.
The Kleinhaus is a perfect vehicle for this strategy. Unlike the sensory impact of actual buildings, which is immediate and unfiltered, the influence of published presentations of homes on potential owners is gradual and takes place over time. As Alison J. While the GdF statutes explicitly allow the building of homes in homestead settlements, the majority of house types and not just small houses presented in Mein Eigenheim were built individually and based on the principle of self-provision.
Tax relief provided after World War II served to incorporate the saving plans of building societies into the official housing policy of West Germany, thereby providing a high share of financing for detached housing Kurz GdF and other building societies not only established the tradition of self-provision in Germany but also influenced consumer choice with regard to formal house types and residential designs.
The typological changes observed during the evolution of the Kleinhaus from the s to s are predominantly incremental. Intimate and individual spaces bedrooms are gradually isolated from shared living areas. Over the years, the representative living space grows, and the bedrooms are more commonly assigned to the upper floor attic.
Such increased functional diversification reflects the growing affluence of households. In times of economic crisis and housing shortage from to and again from to this distribution of functions is abandoned, and by the mids, the basic design becomes more open. The ground floor layout, now exclusively devoted to shared use and family gatherings, is more often arranged to allow free movement. Similarly, intimate spaces become more individualised.
Each child is now allocated their own room. However, the institutional base of the family, i. Only rarely does the text discuss space for work, thus confirming the well-known exclusion of paid work from the single-family home. By the notion and image of the single-family home solidifies into a detached house surrounded by a garden.
At this point, a standardised scheme for presenting homes is established: short descriptions, several photographs of the exterior and interior, and all floor plans. Carefully staged photographs showing artefacts associated with recreation, or people involved in leisure activities, reinforce the connection between the detached house and free time.
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The house is no longer merely a shelter to protect the dwellers and to accumulate wealth; it has also become an asset to be enjoyed. The bourgeois way of living is finally within reach of all members of society. The crucial, explicit message of customer magazines is that by saving, careful planning and paring back some requirements, every household can afford to build a house of their own. The single-family home is permanently being reproduced through the construction and habitation of its formal building types. The representational reframing is a part of how building types are constituted and operate, as observed in the transformation of the Kleinhaus type.
From the mids to , the small house was the dominant formal type presented in GdF publications. Obviously, the Kleinhaus is not a design exclusive to building societies. In comparison, the Kleinhaus types presented in Mein Eigenheim are usually detached houses. From to the mids, the range of housing types is largely limited to the Kleinhaus , a type that had undergone incremental changes over the years, including the gradual introduction of the principle of open space and the dissolution of the division between the garden and the house, mainly affecting the ground floor.
Nevertheless, GdF subscribers and other self-provisioning owner-occupiers continued to build the small house type during the s. It is only by that the Kleinhaus form of housing disappears from the magazine as well as its actual construction , and is replaced by larger detached dwellings, bungalows and terraced housing. The visual material and short text rarely address the issue of the location of a house in relation to the countryside or urbanised areas. The influence of the surroundings of a house — the larger urban entities such as neighbourhoods and districts — is not mentioned.
The representations of model homes do not consider the dependence of the house on technical infrastructure, mobility, public services and local supply networks.
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Hence, in the articles on model houses, the image of the house with a garden evokes the notion of the home as a self-sufficient and closed unit. The household, firmly rooted in its home, is equally independent. The texts contain limited descriptions of household composition, and they do do not prescribe ideals of domestic arrangements. While the publications show the formal Kleinhaus type undergoing incremental refinement and adaptation to changing economic and social conditions, the corresponding suburban settlement remains arbitrary.
The isolated, detached character of the house, conveyed through elaborate presentation of actual homes, also shaped the structure of its immediate neighbourhoods and districts, which, in reality, were mainly developed as clusters of autonomous, serial, detached dwellings with little relation to one another. This approach did not contribute to the establishment of the closely-knit neighbourhood that persists in former homestead settlements Spellerberg and Woll ; the focus of the building society was on self-provisioning homebuilders.
In addition to financing and building consultancy, representations of actual homes in building society magazines contributed to the production of affordable homes with optimised layouts. The advice and information services and the educational representation of homes provided by the GdF enabled individual homebuilders to self-organise the production of their homes. Representations of actual homes as model dwellings influence the initial design, but also define domestic living over the long term. Insight into the impact of visual and verbal representations of the spatial and typological arrangement of houses over time contributes to a greater understanding of the historic co-creation of the built environment.
However, the actual impact of representation on forms of habitation cannot be derived simply from the analysis of the mediated presentation of homes. Further research on the continued reproduction of common building types represented in the media and built and inhabited as material artefacts will contribute to an expanded notion of architectural history, going beyond the restrictive notion of the iconic, singular edifice.