Post 718 –by Gautam Shah
Heinrich Lauterbach (1893-1973) was a prominent architect of Wroclaw (largest city in the historical region of Silesia, western Poland). He worked between two world wars and post WW-II period. He was in close contact with architecture from a young age. At the age of 14, Heinrich Lauterbach met the architect Hans Poelzig, then director of the Wroclaw Art Academy. He studied drawing and watercolour with Theodor von Gosen, the chief of the sculpture class at the Wroclaw Art Academy. The shaping of Lauterbach as architect was also influenced by contacts with the extraordinary bohemian art environment at the Wroclaw Academy of Arts and Crafts (1920-30s). This included people like Hans Scharoun, Adolf Rading, Oskar Moll and Oskar Schlemmer.
1 Hans Scharoun, 1893-1972 was a German architect dedicated to experimentation, an eccentric and with influential vision of democratic architecture.
2 Adolf Rading was a German architect of the Neues Bauen period. He briefly worked in the office of Peter Behrens in 1919, and then moved to Breslau, becoming a professor at the National Academy for Arts and Crafts
3 Oskar Moll was a German Fauvist painter; best known for his landscapes, portraits and somewhat abstract still-life.
4 Oskar Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school. In 1923, he was hired as Master of Form at the Bauhaus theater workshop, after working at the workshop of sculpture.
Lauterbach, after the war, attended the Darmstadt University of Technology and Technical University of Dresden. Here he came in contact with Martin Dülfer, one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau. Later in Berlin he became a master student with Hans Poelzig at the Prussian Academy of the Arts. He then went through studios and design offices at places like Berlin, Kassel and Opole. The work of Heinrich Lauterbach resulted from his fascination with the creative method and projects of his master Poelzig and the ideas of Neues Bauen (new building).
Neues Bauen (New Building) was an avant-garde movement by than rationalist and functionalist. It emerged in Europe during 1920-30s and was identified as New Objectivity (German Neue Sachlichkeit =New Sobriety). This movement re-modelled many German cities in the period. It originally associated with the Arbeitsrat für Kunst (a union of architects, painters, sculptors and art writers, who were based in Berlin from 1918 to 1921). Arbeitsrat worked closely with the Novembergruppe and the Deutscher Werkbundn with Häring. Many members were important founders of the Bauhaus. Among the supporters of such German movements contributors were Walter Gropius, Otto Haesler, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Ernst May, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Martin Wagner.
The Neue Sachlichkeit (new sobriety) approach was to pursue architecture and design to fulfill objective functions and not along the lines of personal taste, preexisting historical, national or regional styles. The intention was to create objects without any emotional attachment, like how these were designed or used previously.
Lauterbach launched his practice as a freelance architect in Wroclaw in 1925, and one of the first project was a Studio for portrait photographer Max Glauer. From 1925 until the outbreak of WW-II, he worked in Wroclaw as an architect. Some of his early projects were a residential house with an exchange office and Kampmeyer parquet factory. Lauterbach, in 1929, he organized an exhibition at Breslau in 1929, Werkbundu Wohnung und Werkraum, WUWA, (Werkbundu apartment and workshop). For Lauterbach, the organization of an exhibition, articles and comments in architectural magazines, brought in fame. He secured projects for two functionalist villas in Czechoslovakia and Dubrovnik (Jablonec and Nisou). He built an apartment block in 1928-29. He also re-modelled Wroclaw Chamber of Commerce. Lauterbach’s design projects were residential buildings, villas, and multi-family houses. ‘The work of Heinrich Lauterbach resulted from his fascination with the creative method and projects of his master Poelzig and the ideas of Neues Bauen’.
The Werkbund estates, were developed as experiment in modern residential architecture in Stuttgart, Bern, Zurich, Prague, Vienna and Wroclaw. Lauterbach now led the Silesian regional Werkbund. His colleagues were Hans Scharoun, Adolf Rading, both of the Wroclaw Art Academy. Members of the Silesian Werkbund were involved in the planning and execution of about 40 buildings.
In 1930 he moved into one of his row houses in WUWA, with a neighbour as painter Oskar Schlemmer. The main driving force for Werkbund for Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), was of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who realized it with his colleagues, Belgian Victor Bourgeois, Swiss-French Le Corbusier, Austrian Josef Frank, Dutchmen J.J.P. Oud and Mart Stam. Neue Sachlichkeit was a movement against expressionism, and rejected the romantic attitude of the expressionism. Expressionism was strongly seen in German public life like performing crafts, art, architecture, literature, etc.
Academic Life From 1930 to 1932 Lauterbach was a lecturer at the Academy of Arts and Crafts in Wroclaw. From 1940 to 1945 he had to do military service. After a teaching assignment at the Technical University of Stuttgart (1947 to 1950), Heinrich Lauterbach became a professor of architecture at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Kassel in 1950. He was also a professor at universities in Poland and Germany.
Since 1955 he was a full member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts. He also became a member of the prestigious association of architects, ‘Der Ring’ in Berlin. In the postwar period he taught at the universities in Stuttgart and Kassel.
Schmelowský Villa “It was designed by the architect Heinrich Lauterbach designed a Villa for the dermatologist Friedrich Schmelowský and his wife Marie. The Schmelowský Villa stands in a quiet area of greenery. From Opletalova Street, it seems closed and inaccessible, but it presents a friendly face on the garden side with its large glazed surfaces. The extended shape of the house with the protruding rounded living area supported on steel pillars and the bathroom oriels with round ‘portholes’ gives the impression of a cruising steamship. The layout of the house and the interiors is timeless and as such it continues to serve its enlightened owners today without the need for any modifications. Experts consider the villa to be an excellent example of the aerodynamic functionalism of the Wroclaw school”. (https://www.jablonec.com/en/jablonec-nad-nisou/monuments-and-culture/the-schmelowsky-villa/).