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Building Culture

Ernst May and the New Frankfurt am Main Initiative, 1926–1931


Susan R. Henderson

This book is a history of the initiative, its projects and actors, notably the architect and planner Ernst May, and its achievements, set within the turbulent context of the Weimar decade. It chronicles its many accomplishments: the construction of housing settlements, innovations in construction and materials, the parks and garden colonies program, innovations in school, medical facility and church design, reforms in woman’s sphere, and a crafting of New Life culture. It examines the New Frankfurt am Main in light of the social and political debates that shaped it and the works it produced, and describes the relationship of work and theory to contemporary reform movements. Finally, the narrative underscores the gulf between the idyll of modernity and the political and social realities of life in a Germany on the brink of collapse.


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Maps xiv


xiv Building Culture MAP 1 “An Orientation Plan for the Frankfurt Settlements,” DNF, no. 5, 1928. This map has been modified to clarify some of the locations. xvMaps MAP 2 Planning map of 1930 includes proposals for expansion of settlements, gardens, cemeteries for the coming years. This adapted version adds the following notations: 1. Römerstadt A. Osthafen 2. Praunheim B. Municipal Cemetery 3. Westhausen C. Grüneburg Park (Palmengarten/IG Farben) 4. Hellerhof and Tornow-Gelände 5. Goldstein 6. Bruchfeldstrasse 7. Central White-Collar District xvi Building Culture Figure 0.01 Bruchfeldstrasse residents taking their ease, 1927.

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