Martin Wagner (architect)

Martin Wagner ( born November 5, 1885 in Königsberg ( East Prussia ), † May 28 1957 in Cambridge (Massachusetts ) ) was a German town planner, architect and urban theorist.


Wagner studied from 1905 to 1910 architecture, urban planning and economics at the University of Technology ( Berlin ) Charlottenburg and Dresden.

After working in the office of Hermann Muthesius as a draftsman, he was from 1911 to 1914 head of the construction office in Rüstringen ( = Wilhelmshaven- Rüstringen ). In 1915 he received his doctorate with his thesis " The sanitary green of the cities, a contribution to the free surface theory " with Josef Brix in Berlin.

1918 Wagner was appointed city architect of the city Schöneberg ( since 1920 Schöneberg district of Groß- Berlin). In this capacity, he designed and planned together with Heinrich Let the settlement " Lindenhof I" (1918-1920), for which Bruno Taut designed a singles' residence, which was demolished after damage in World War II, and Leberecht Migge took over the open space design.

1920 Wagner had in common with August Ellinger founder of the association of social construction companies (VSB ), which he directed until 1925. In VSB at that time organized workers' huts, mostly union-affiliated, the urban ideal of the garden city and the social idea of the guild undertook mergers bauwilligen workers or employees. The objective of the combined here associations differed from that of other co-operatives by the more prominent standing demand for profit. Purpose of building works was, it is said in the journal Social construction industry, the organ of the VSB, " not to promote the purchase of their members, but simply the service of the common good. " Building such a social construction industry should actually overcome the private housing sector, reached in but essentially just some rationalization of the construction of the respective settlements.

In 1924 the General German Trade Union Confederation ( ADGB ) a Center for the Promotion of union companies ( REWOG, later DEWOG ) whose line Wagner took over. The DEWOG coordinated over the entire branch organizations nonprofit construction industry in the German Reich. The Berlin subsidiary GEHAG was 1924-1926 under Wagner's direction. During this period he designed together with Bruno Taut "horseshoe settlement " (1924-1926, since 2008 a World Heritage Site ) in Berlin- Britz ( residential line " Red Wall "). Wagner's ideas of typing, standardization and rationalization have been implemented in housing This housing estate for the first time, without, however, could reduce the actual development costs.

In 1926, Martin Wagner as a city planner in the central planning authority of Berlin. The City Planning Department was under his leadership, in close cooperation with the GEHAG and using the required of him since 1916 and 1924 introduced rent tax, a comprehensive housing program - especially in large settlements - to implement. For this construction programs architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Hans Scharoun and Hugo Häring were used. Wagner himself occupied himself by his own testimony intense with the redesign of the center of Greater Berlin. The aim was to build the "world city ", to make " place of happy work and happy leisure ," as in edited by Wagner and Adolf Behne magazine called 1929 New Berlin. The expansion of the subway ( from 1926), planning for the Republic Square (1927 ) to the Reichstag building, the renovation of the Alexanderplatz ( 1929 ), the concept for the exhibition center in Charlottenburg ( 1927-1930, with Hans Poelzig ), for the Wannsee Beach (1928-1930, with Richard Ermisch ) and the lido Müggelsee (1929-1930) go largely due to Wagner.

From the marriage with Gertrude Wagner children Irmgard, Bernd and Sabine emerged. The family lived up to emigrate to the to 1929 built in several stages settlement Eichkamp.

After the collapse of the construction industry in 1931 and a visit to the Soviet Union Wagner developed a planned economy approaches to the city of Berlin, which is no longer, however, came to fruition. The Berlin Building Exhibition in 1931 and the exhibition " sun, air and house for all " in 1932, in which proposals for a "growing house of tomorrow " were gathered, were the last major activities of the City Commissioner of City Planning. In February 1933 Wagner resigned from the Berlin Academy of the Arts to protest against the exclusion of Käthe Kollwitz and Heinrich Mann. Wagner came as a long -standing member of the SPD and as a representative of the new style in increasingly clear opposition to the National Socialist ( Nazi ) policy. In March 1933, he was " on leave " together with the Social Democratic members of the City Council as local planning by the Nazi rulers.

In 1935 the hitherto largely unemployed Wagner on a recommendation Poelzig a vocation to urban advisor to the city of Istanbul. There he developed a series of urban planning expertise and a general development plan for the city. In the summer of 1937, he designed (probably with Bruno Taut, who also resided in Turkey) an exhibition on the achievements of the government Atatürk.

In 1938 he traveled to the United States, where he held a professorship in Urban and Regional Planning at Harvard University in Cambridge until his retirement in 1950. He developed a prefabricated housing system, domed houses (MW- System, 1940-1941 ) and laid the conceptual foundations for planning of "neighborhoods " ( neighborhoods ) composite with 5000 inhabitants " New Towns " (1945 ).

1952 returned Wagner, who had U.S. citizenship since 1944, once again to Germany and toured the reconstruction cities of Dortmund, Essen, Bonn, Cologne, Hanover, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Freiburg and Tübingen. The disappointment over the failed in his view urban planning and housing in the Federal Republic erupted shortly before his death in 1957 in his pamphlet " Potemkin in West Berlin", in which he described the planning for the Hansa district in Berlin as too expensive and do not meet current social needs criticized accordingly.

Projects and Works (selection)

Literature (selection )

  • Bernhard Wagner: Martin Wagner ( 1885-1957 ). Life and work. A biographical narrative. Hamburg 1985.
  • Academy of the Arts ( ed.): Martin Wagner from 1885 to 1957. Housing and urban planning world. The rationalization of happiness. Berlin 1985.
  • Ludovica Scarpa: Martin Wagner and Berlin. Architecture and urban planning in the Weimar Republic. Braunschweig 1986.
  • Bernd Nicolai: World dynamite. Martin Wagner 's (lost ) years in (E) migration. In: the same (Ed.): Architecture and exile. Cultural Transfer and architectural emigration from 1930 to 1950. Trier 2003, pp. 145-156.