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Rudolf Schwarz and the concept of Stadtlandschaft

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In 1949, an important albeit neglected book on the planning of cities was published in Germany, under the title Von der Bebauung der Erde (Of the Construction/Cultivation of the Earth). Its author, Rudolf Schwarz, was highly appreciated but equally has been marginalized by the architectural historiography of the twentieth century. His book contains a very elaborate theory on planning and the cities, based on the author's Catholic culture, his philosophical attachments to phenomenology, as well as his intellectual affinities with Hans Poelzig, Martin Wagner and Mies van der Rohe.

A church-builder himself, Rudolf Schwarz was a prolific writer and a shrewd and inventive designer, but above all a harsh critic of modernity. He thus borrowed the idea of fusion between the city and the landscape, popular among his contemporaries and invested it with symbolic, transcendental meaning, focusing on the idea of the 'high city'. His 'city-landscape' appears to be polarized, but at the same time 'elastic', with 'changeable centres' and a rhizomatic structure, prefiguring later developments in urban theory. This article presents the origins of the concept of Stadtlandschaft, as they appeared in the German cultural and economic geography in the early twentieth century, its adaptation to the city-planning questions of the early 1930s, its later use by the National Socialist planning services and, particularly, its elaboration by Rudolf Schwarz during and after the Second World War.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: École d'architecture de Lyon, 3, rue Maurice Audin, BP 170-69512 Vaulx-en-Velin Cedex, France (e-mail:

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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