The Transparent State: Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Transparent State

Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany, 1st Edition

By Deborah Ascher Barnstone


296 pages | 55 B/W Illus.

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Examining the transformation of transparency as a metaphor in West German political thought to an analogy for democratic architecture, this bookquestions the prevailing assumption in German architectural circles that transparency in governmental buildings can be equated with openness, accessibility and greater democracy.

The Transparent State traces the development of transparency in German political and architectural culture, tying this lineage to the relationship between culture and national identity, a connection that began before unification of the German state in the eighteenth century and continues today. The Weimar Republic and Third Reich periods are examined although the focus is on the postwar period, looking at the use of transparency in the three projects for a national parliament - the 1949 Bundestag project by Hans Schwippert, the 1992 Bundestag building by Gunter Behnisch and the 1999 Reichstag renovation by Norman Foster.

Transparency is an important issue in contemporary architectural practice; this book will appeal to both the practising architect and the architectural historian.


'Barnstone's aim is as ambitious as it is fascinating.' - Domus

'[Barnstone] offers a stimulating argument which will engage readers interested in the debates about both German history and architecture in the twentieth century.' The Art Book

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements Introduction 1. Transparency Ideology 2. Transparency in German Architecture before and after the War 3. The Quest for an Open Society 4. Looking in the Mirror: Transparency after 1989 5. A Metaphor for the New Germany 6. House of Openness, Architecture of Encounter 7. Coming to Terms with the Past: Transparency in Norman Foster's Reichstag 8. Why Transparency? Appendix 1: Biography of Hans Schwippert Appendix 2: Biography of Günter Behnisch Appendix 3: Biography of Sir Norman Foster Appendix 4: Glück und Glas, Hans Schwippert Bibliography

About the Author

Deborah Ascher Barnstone is Associate Professor of Architectural Design at Washington State University, and also an architect and designer. Her work includes a special issue of the Journal of Architecture Education dedicated to transparency in Twentieth-Century architecture (with Anthony Vidler), and she has chaired sessions addressing transparency and approaches to architectural modernism at two annual meetings of the Association of Art Historians. Her design practice has explored both spatial and material transparency, and she has taught architectural design in Germany.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Buildings / Public, Commercial & Industrial
ARCHITECTURE / Study & Teaching