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Hans Bernhard Reichow and the concept of Stadtlandschaft in German planning

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The German architect and city planner Hans Bernhard Reichow (1899-1974) published his book Organische Stadtbaukunst: Von der Grostadt zur Stadtlandschaft (The organic art of building towns: from the metropolis to the city landscape) in 1948. This presented a uniquely comprehensive discussion of the concept of the Stadtlandschaft (city landscape) in urban planning, an issue which was at the focus of debate in relation to the post-war reconstruction of Germany. Reichow was radically opposed to the idea of the metropolis and proposed the establishment of a new-style Stadtlandschaft, composed of residential cells that were kept closely attuned to their natural landscapes.

Discussions from a quarter of a century earlier seemed to reappear in that concept, such as the call for the metropolis to be abolished in the revolutionary years of 1918-1919 following the First World War - a call which, however, gave way to a more pragmatic approach during the Weimar Republic. It is astonishing that the idea of a tabula rasa was maintained by Reichow for so long. There is also another perturbing aspect: Reichow gave his idea the same name as the concept which Nazi town planners had adopted as their own. How was it possible for Reichow to incorporate a new version of the concept of Stadtlandschaft into planning the reconstruction of the new Germany?

This article shows, based on the example of Reichow, how concepts of urban planning are carried through history, with new political interpretations being continually attached to them. It deals with the question of continuity at the level of the planners and examines specifically how this continuity and adaptability of the concept of Stadtlandschaft was possible. Reichow's concept is introduced in the first part of this article in order to trace the roots of Stadtlandschaft within history in the second part of the article; finally Reichow's work is put in a theoretical context.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Lastropsweg 26, 20255 Hamburg, Germany (e-mail:

Publication date: 2003-04-01

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