WIT Press

Nature’s Muses In Bruno Tuat’s Glashaus


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

49 - 60




6,437 kb


D. Nielsen & A. Kumarasuriyar


Constructed for the 1914 Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne, Germany, the Glashaus was both a seminal example of early modernist architecture and Bruno Taut’s signature building. Over time, metaphors have come to be applied to the Glashaus. Within the realm of nature these metaphors include cosmic, geological, botanic and sexual. However these metaphors, like the history of the Glashaus, are not a foregone conclusion. Recently it has been argued that the majority of our current knowledge regarding the Glashaus derives not from the perspective of Bruno Taut as the architect, but rather directly from the perspective of the art critic Adolf Behne. This argument goes further and proposes that Behne’s official history of Glashaus is possibly fabricated propaganda. So, if indeed the official history of the Glashaus is questionable, then too are the natural metaphors commonly applied to the building. By revisiting Bruno Taut’s pre-1915 writings, this investigation reveals that botanic metaphors appear to have been Taut’s primary source of inspiration for the design of the Glashaus. Through the exposure of this fact, this research contributes significantly to the current debates surrounding Bruno Taut, the Glashaus and the re-evaluation of the official histories of the modern movement. Keywords: Bruno Taut, Glashaus, nature, gothic, Victoria regia, Stiftskirche. 1 Introduction References to nature are common-place in descriptions of Bruno Taut’s Glashaus (Figure 1). It has been proposed that the Glashaus looked like the earth had literally broken open, exposing the building as it erupted toward the light. In bad weather the reflecting glazed facets of the Glashaus dome apparently assumed a greenish-yellow colour. This resulted in the visiting public naming the building Spargelkopf, or ‘Asparagus-head’. Alternatively, when approached from a distance the Glashaus supposedly looked like a sprouting seed, or a


Bruno Taut, Glashaus, nature, gothic, Victoria regia, Stiftskirche.