Vellum drawings, ca. 1951. Office of Sep Ruf. Photographed at the home of Elisabeth and Norburga Ruf, January, 2019.
Photo Credit: Thad Russell.
Excerpted from the forthcoming book Year Zero to Economic Miracle: Hans Schwippert, Sep Ruf and West German Modern Architecture 1949-1964, this talk will consider the way in which the documents used to realize architectural work contribute to a fuller understanding of two seminal postwar architects, Hans Schwippert and Sep Ruf.
Designed to result in durability, the processes that produce architecture rarely endure. The documents required by those processes traverse a complex network that touches class, skill, education, material and capital. They range from the construction drawing, used to communicate between labor and design; to the invoice, take-off, specifications and correspondence, used to manage logistics and defend against liability; to the trade publication, catalogue or advertisement through which manufacturers both cater and dictate to the designer’s imagination. They are instrumental by nature, without the value attributed to the sketches, drawings or models that can be traced to a singular author.
Lynnette Widder, both practicing architect and historian of architecture, uses these documents to consider the early period of postwar West German architecture. Found unexpectedly in private and uncatalogued institutional archives, they describe pointedly the tenuous period of Allied occupation and early Cold War, during which architectural ideas were fundamentally reconceived while a decimated building industry was retooled.
Read about all the Rendez-vous talks for this semester here.