Amhoff, Tilo: “Das Glashaus und andere optische Medien. Mies van der Rohe und die Montage der Bilder”, in: Gleiter, Joerg; Korrek, Norbert; Schramke, Sandra (eds.): Wirklichkeitsexperiemente. Architekturtheorie und praktische Aesthetik, (Weimar: Verlag der Bauhaus-Universitaet, 2006), pp. 363-377. ISBN 3-86068-295-4.
The essay was my contribution to a memorial publication in honour of Professor Gerd Zimmermann, my teacher, boss and colleague at the Bauhaus-University Weimar. I was his student, student assistant, and later worked as a lecturer in architectural history and theory at his institute.
The discussion of architecture as a medium derived from our collaborations with the media department. They resulted in interdisciplinary teaching courses, the new joint master program ‘Media Architecture’, and the Bauhaus-Colloquium ‘Medium Architecture’ in 2003.
The lively debates of those formative years continue to exert a strong influence on my PhD research on the plan as a specific architectural medium today.
The essay explores the relationship between the introduction of photography and film and the consequent changes in the production, perception and theorization of architecture at the beginning of the twentieth century. The glasshouse projects of the German architect Mies van der Rohe serve as the crystallization of an architecture in which this process becomes most clearly visible.
I am arguing that through the focus on their conditioning of perception and their transformation of the world into an image the theorizing of the glasshouse and the theorizing of the optical apparatus can coincide. The argument tests Walter Benjamin’s theses on the difference of perceiving an artwork and architecture and extends Beatriz Colomina’s work on the same subject matter.
The starting point is Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Museum for a small town’ (1943). The text paradigmatically outlines the characteristics of his glasshouse projects and the accompanying photomontage is equally emblematic. In my reading of text and image I argue that the glasshouse could not begin “where two bricks were carefully joined”, but had to begin where two images were carefully joined.
The relationship is discussed in detail in four, what I call logical relationships, between an optical media and a glasshouse project. These pairs are the Claude Glass and the German Pavilion (1930), the Camera Obscura and the Resor House Project (1940), the Film Camera and the Guericke House Project (1932), with a thorough excursion on Sergej M. Eisenstein’s ‘Montage and Architecture’ (1938), and finally the Panorama and the Tugendhat House (1928-1930).