Ambivalences of Modernity. The Architect and City Planner Roland Rainer Between Dictatorship and Democracy

Rainer diegegliederteaufgelockertestadt
FWF-project (P34938)

Project leader:
Angelika Schnell (IKA)

Project team:
Ingrid Holzschuh, Waltraud Indrist, Susanne Rick, Monika Platzer (Architekturzentrum Wien)

Roland Rainer was one of the best-known architects and urban planners of post-war modernism in Austria. The Stadthalle in Vienna (1958), the Puchenau housing estate near Linz (1965-2000) and the ORF Centre in Vienna (1968-1974) are among his buildings. It is less well known that he went to Berlin as early as 1936, two years before Austria's "Anschluss" to the National Socialist German Reich in 1938, and placed himself in the service of the German Academy for Urban Development, Reich and Regional Planning (DASRL), which was practically and theoretically subordinate to Albert Speer, the General Building Inspector for the Reich capital. Consequently, he was integrated into the National Socialist system not only through his early membership in the NSDAP, but also through his practice, hardly just through opportunism. In fact, he already developed his central theories on urban planning and architecture in the early 1940s at the DASRL. During this period, he conceived and wrote, together with his colleagues Johannes Göderitz and Hubert Hofmann, the first version of "Die gegliederte und aufgelockerte Stadt", which was published in 1945 and became a standard work in German-speaking countries in its second version of 1957.

This writing contains something typical for its time: it criticises the modern, densely populated city, it pleads for a garden city model in which living, working, traffic and leisure are disentangled and people live "at ground level". Only in the first version is this living "folk-biologically" propagated as the right way of living. Racist dictions like this are no longer found in the second version of 1957. But has the concept changed significantly as a result?

The research project, a collaboration between the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (where Rainer taught as a professor) and the Architekturzentrum Wien (where Rainer's estate is located), will be dedicated to investigating this question in two ways. On the one hand, Rainer's historical development as a modernist architect will be examined in more detail for the first time; this includes his time as a student at the Vienna University of Technology in the 1920s. On the other hand, a current reassessment of the "ambivalence of architectural modernism" itself will be possible via Rainer's concrete biography. Especially in the context of recent research on colonialism and racism in modern architecture, the question of the inherent biopolitics of garden city models can become substantial with the analysis of Rainer's work. To this end, the "articulated and loosened city" as described by Rainer will be sketched for the first time and compared with other urban planning models. In addition, the complete estate will be reviewed and evaluated, and further material on Rainer will be excavated and analysed in archives in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. In this way, Rainer's work is placed in a differentiated and well-founded context.

Adolf Hitler as an "Architekt"

ABB 1 Entwurf Hitlers für ein Führermuseum in Linz Oktober 1938 Hitler 1983 242 Nr 679
Jubiläumsfonds project at the University of Vienna
(12/2020 – 11/2023)

research associate: Ingrid Holzschuh

Raphael Rosenberg (PI), Winfried Nerdinger, Timo Nüßlein

The project investigates Adolf Hitler's personal involvement in the architecture of National Socialism. His interest for and contribution to buildings exceeds by far examples of other historic rulers. He was on the one hand a builder launching big projects representing his dictatorship, commissioning architects and forcing – e. g. by decrees – their realisation; on the other hand an architect making own designs, giving his architects exact graphic and verbal specifications and often correcting their drafts with his own hand. Hitler's role as a builder has not yet been coherently investigated, his activities as an architect were not yet analysed.
This project contributes to better understanding the NS regime, as for Hitler architecture was an important instrument of representation and exercise of power. It is also important for the comprehension of Middle European architecture of the 1930s/1940s where Hitler’s involvement played an essential role.

We compile and analyse Hitler's statements on architecture in general and on specific building projects and approximately 260 architectural sketches by his hand. Half of them are yet unpublished. We prepare a critical catalogue of those sources and investigate:
1. Hitler's architectural perceptions and their changes from his youth in Linz and Vienna, to the years in Munich up until the end of WWII as architectural planning remained a privileged leisure activity for the dictator.
2. The cooperation between Hitler and “his” architects. Both in the development of the design for buildings and on the administrative level, where Hitler set the architects at the top of new authorities giving them immense power to realise their work within the existing cities.
3. The way Hitler understood and implemented the representative architecture as a political instrument for and carrier of NS ideology.

Funded by the Jubiläumsfonds of the Austrian National Bank (No. 18601).

https://crea.univie.ac.at/projekt adolf hitler as an architect

Die österreichischen Ingenieurkammern und
die Rolle der ZiviltechnikerInnen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus

Forschungsprojekt im Auftrag der Bundeskammer der ZiviltechnikerInnen

Projektleitung: Ingrid Holzschuh und Alexandra Wachter

Ziel des vorliegenden Forschungsprojekts ist die umfassende wissenschaftliche Aufarbeitung der Organisationsgeschichte der österreichischen Ingenieurkammern während der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (1938–1945).
Ein wichtiger Teil des Forschungsprojektes liegt in der wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung exemplarischer Biografien von ZivilingenieurInnen. Anhand dieser sollen Handlungsspielräume von AkteurInnen innerhalb der Kammern genauso sichtbar gemacht werden wie Karriereverläufe und Karrierebrüche „einfacher“ Mitglieder. Es werden die Auswirkungen diskriminierender Maßnahmen dargestellt, deren Ziel die Ausgrenzung und Vertreibung „nichtarischer“ sowie politisch oder künstlerisch nicht konformer Mitglieder war, und es wird jener ZivilingenieurInnen erinnert, die dem mörderischen und menschenverachtenden Regime der Nationalsozialisten zum Opfer fielen.