Nazi architecture meets Bechers’ typology

by Leslie Hossack

House at Number 26, Zehlendorf, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Today: House at Number 26, Zehlendorf, Berlin. Yesterday: House at Number 5. The day before: House at Number 31. Three images of three similar structures…

This week the photographs featured on Haute Vitrine are historic homes located in Berlin. They 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 situated in an idyllic forest setting along the shores of a lake. This tranquil neighbourhood is now known as Waldsiedlung Krumme Lanke.

The detached house in this photograph is similar to those in the two previous posts. Celebrated German artists Bernard and Hilla Becher are well-known for their typologies, i.e. their extensive series of photographs of buildings and 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?