cookie cutter cottages or Bechers’ typology?

by Leslie Hossack

House at Number 5, Zehlendorf, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

The houses featured on Haute Vitrine this week were built by Hitler’s National Socialist regime for SS officers and their families. These detached, semi-detached and terraced houses were allocated to SS officers according to rank. They are located in an idyllic forest setting along the shores of Krumme Lanke, on the west side of Berlin. This tranquil neighbourhood is now known as Waldsiedlung Krumme Lanke.

The detached house in this photograph is similar to the one in yesterday’s post. Celebrated German artists Bernard and Hilla Becher are well-known for their typologies, i.e. their extensive series of photographs of industrial structures. The use of the term typology within photography refers to a methodical image-making approach that focuses on a group of similar objects. Generally, typological photographs are identified by an empirical, straight-forward appearance, with great detail and clarity in the prints. They are often displayed or reproduced in a series.

It was the Bechers who initially introduced the term “typology” into the vocabulary of photography. Their images of blast furnaces, water towers, frame houses, coal mine heads, and other industrial structures (usually presented in sequences or grids) are the most famous examples of typological photography. encyclopedia-of-twentieth-century-photograph

So this begs the question. Is this current series of houses in Zehlendorf a random collection of cookie cutter cottages? Or is it a typological series of photographs as defined by the Bechers?

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