Departmental Papers (Architecture)

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Journal Article

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Originally published in Interact or Die! edited by Joke Brouwer and Arjen Mulder, pages 110-131. Published by V2 Publishing in 2007, Rotterdam.


I began doing research on Mies van der Rohe in the early nineties, after Fritz Neumeyer had published his book The Artless World, (1994). Neumeyer foregrounds Mies' library, the books that Mies read. He was also the first to collect all the things that Mies himself wrote. One of the things that I found very surprising was that Mies was a reader of science, and especially of biology in the 1920s. He had a collection of about 40 books by the botanist Raoul Francé, the author of Der Sanze als Erfinder ("The Plant as Inventor," 1920). This was surprising, for I had always thought of modernism as an architecture of technology rather than an architecture that was imbued with organic aspirations and ethos. One thought of organic architecture more in terms of biomorphic form; in the German context, one thought of Hugo Häring, but not the straight-up-and-down, orthogonal architecture that Mies developed, or his expression of structure.

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Date Posted: 12 September 2007