Architekturlehre und Städtebau der zwanziger bis fünfziger Jahre im Regierungsbezirk Aachen - René von Schöfer (1883-1954)

  • Architectural education and urban planning from the twenties to the fifties in the governmetal district of Aachen - René von Schöfer (1883-1954)

Wild, Moritz; Raabe, Christian Julius (Thesis advisor); Selle, Klaus (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2017)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

RWTH Aachen University, Diss., 2017


Subjects of study and method: The subject matter of this thesis is the aspects of the development of the architectural education at the RWTH University in Aachen (Rhenish-Westphalian Institute of Technology) and the urban planning processes in the government district of Aachen since the „Weimar Republic” and beyond the political breakup all the way to the reconstruction period after World War II. Approaching these subjects is made possible through the biography of the architect and university lecturer René von Schöfer, who taught at the RWTH from 1926 to 1954 and also practiced architecture and urban planning within the region. His career, through the changing political systems and his projects, provide clues to explain the developmental processes in the professional environment at both the university and urban planning. His biography also serves as an introduction to the historical context. The starting point of the research was René von Schöfer's estate and a preliminary chronological catalog provided by the Förderverein Festung Zitadelle Jülich. At first, the research method consisted of researching archives, authorities, historical lecture directories and historical journals finding hints and meaningful sources about his career, teachings, and von Schöfer’s projects, secondly, by visiting the planning and construction sites and lastly by analyzing and interpreting the finds relevant to scientific literature.Architectural educationAfter the literature addressed the history of the University of Aachen, that was mainly investigated focussing on political aspects, it resulted in a first thematic complex „Architectural education at the RWTH Aachen” depicting the content related development of the architectural department and the architectural education at the RWTH Aachen. The areas of focus in Schöfers teaching was in architectural design (theory); including design, architectural building survey, architectural history; and on urban planning. The development of teaching is understood as a process with causes, objectives, political influences and teachers which led to a certain teaching. In order to understand the processes, the teachers must also be illuminated. First, the historicist education is presented as a starting point and then changes after World War I. The educational concept of the university and external guidelines led to the appointment of university teachers with a specific profile to a composition of the teaching body in the department for architecture dependent on professional and political factors and to the development of education according to ministerial guidelines and the educational perception of the professors. How the education was developed is illustrated by the example in the educational fields of architectural design and urban planning (and urban design) that was put into the context of both the Aachen Department of Architecture and the study reforms in Germany in order to show the influences on the educational concept in Aachen. The appointment processes of individual professors and the effects of denazification on the educational staff were illuminated. The changes in the study plans as well as a detailed discussion of specific topics such as the role of the RWTH Aachen in the German settlement programs of the Third Reich were addressed. The post-war period and reconstruction made new demands on teaching at RWTH and demanded new chairs. Urban planningThe second range of topics „Urban Construction in the Government District of Aachen” examines exemplary city planning processes and competitions with its causes and goals influencing participants, the used planning instruments and results in the governmental district of Aachen. Since urban historical research has concentrated mainly on large cities and their morphological development, new insights into contemporary planning practice has been accomplished. This closes gaps in the planning history and creates the basis for further studies of planning processes in large, and in particularly, small towns.City expansion, old town restoration and settlement development during the era of National Socialism, planning processes of the early reconstruction phase and guidelines according to the reconstrution law of North Rhine-Westphalia are presented in each case by several examples and the used planning instruments are shown. The instruments include, in particular, the type of plans used, local statutes, building consultancy and the financing of planning and implementation. Components of the processes were also the participation of the public and the representatives of public interests as well as the resistance of public and private interests on one side and of competing public interests on the other. At last, the competition of the early post-war had a focus on the causes, goals, objectives, participants, the configuration of the prize judges and how the procedure was monitored that led to the respective competition results and ultimately the award of the contract.Through figures such as René von Schöfer, perceptions and guiding principles were carried out during his lifetime having an affect on the competitions in architectural and urban planning favoring a traditionalist design approach. Common legal foundations of the formal processes are mostly laws, regulations and in the case of the competitions, are principles which arose before 1945 and still applied in the post-war period.