Headline Ernst Neufert began an apprenticeship as a mason in , which he completed with the apprenticeship certification exam. When the Bauhaus was opened in Weimar in , Neufert enrolled as one of the first students. From its start until the winter semester of , he was also an employee at the private architecture office of Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. From to , Ernst Neufert was employed as a construction site manager for Walter Gropius. In , Otto Bartning summoned Neufert back to Weimar as the head of the building department and later as the assistant director at the State Technical University of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

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Was he an architect, a teacher, or something larger than both? There is probably no architect who has not used Neufert, whether as a didactic tool or as a volume of references. It contains all the necessary information to design and execute works of architecture. Neufert is enduringly popular. As of , it is in its forty-first German edition, has been translated into seventeen languages, and has sold over , copies.

He was born on March 15, , and his first job, as an apprentice mason at the age of fourteen, coincided with the outbreak of World War I. The year the war ended, he graduated from the School of Construction in Weimar.

When the Bauhaus opened in , he enrolled as one of its first students and soon started to work for the architectural practice of Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. Emigration to the US after the Nazi takeover in would have been the logical next step. Neufert did not emigrate. But even his seemingly nonconformist choice to stay in Germany was a form of conformism—a largely apolitical act. Even in terms of his career choices, Neufert exhibited what would become the main paradox of his life: an exceptional pursuit of the norm.

Save this picture! Unlike Speer, Neufert was never accused of collaboration with the Nazis or convicted of any wrongdoing. Technically, he did not actively participate in the Nazi war machine, and there is no record of party membership.

After the war, he simply resumed his career as professor of architecture at Darmstadt University, and was appointed emeritus professor in Here, a compulsory module for new students was Schnellentwerfen fast design , which allowed a very limited time to develop architectural solutions to a given brief. Then the instructor selects a few narrowly focused tasks and develops the following program in collaboration with the audience: A new building for the Bauhochschule is to be designed on a recently visited building site.

Training workshops and residential studios are to be attached to it. The spatial requirements are known to the students. Three hours of intensive labor, then, the designs are collected. These standard paper sizes allowed for increased efficiency in publishing and were first championed by the German War Ministry during World War I.

These are also constitutive of the dimensions of spaces. Exact knowledge of standard [paper] formats is important for the builder. Furthermore, the book engages with the notion of Existenzminimum, variously describing methods of achieving efficient spatial planning and the use of movable, collapsing furniture, such as the Pullman bed.

The Book and the Method Save this picture! The work is simultaneously a handbook, a textbook, and a reference; it is a didactic treatise rather than a mere repository of data. An equivalent of sorts, the Metric Handbook, was published in for a British readership and according to United Kingdom standards, and has sold about , copies. The book includes organizational diagrams, recommended minimum measurements for spaces, exact measurements of standard-sized furnishings, and treatises on standard building typologies such as dwellings high-rise and low-rise , factories, schools, and office buildings.

Often regarded as a sequel to Bauentwurfslehre, it adopts a more urgent tone toward standardization and rationalization, as critical to total war. Speer wrote: Total War requires the concentration of all powers in the construction industry as well.

Thoroughgoing centralization, for the purpose of economizing technical powers and building mass production systems, is the prerequisite for improving productivity. With this new order, one can hardly rely on arbitrary measure of building components and the parliamentary deliberations of participating manufacturing organizations. Rather, one must establish a building order in the broadest sense of the word, with a firm hand and with the collaboration of industry, in order to ease the work of the manufacturer, the planner, and the builder in equal measure.

And to achieve appropriate integration of building components. Professor Neufert dedicates himself to this important task as my Representative for Standardization in the Building Industry Neufert himself wrote: During the First World War, Normenlehre by Porstmann appeared, which is as relevant today as it was then.

After the World War, the standard numbers were established, which as an overarching proportional system uni ed the proportions of individual standards. Since then, a very large literature on standards has emerged which actually encompasses all technical areas save that of design and construction. Bricks During the war, Neufert began to focus on one of the humblest building components: the brick. Not only did Hitler and Speer need to rebuild German cities quickly to keep up morale, but a standardized building system was also essential because forced laborers, prisoners, and volunteers had no prior experience in building, and the first two groups were suspected of sabotage and perhaps 30 to 40 percent less productive due to malnutrition, disease, and torture.

Furthermore, with prison and slave labor hailing from all lands occupied by the Reich, a standardized building system would eliminate much miscommunication. For instance, the ideal shoulder height was raised from to centimeters even though he kept the height of the human body itself at centimeters.

In DIN , the updated version, was enshrined in West German law: state subsidies for public housing would be extended only to builders who followed the norm.

East Germany followed suit a few years later. The Importance of Being Ernst Ernst Neufert worked toward standardization regardless of circumstances or regimes. His work was tied to no political ideology, save for its absolute devotion to the efficiency of industry. He kept a wide network of collabora- tors throughout his life. The cupboards were quite vernacular in style but could be assembled without any knowledge of carpentry. To Neufert, this proved his standards did not impose stylistic or ideological paradigms on those who followed them.

It would seem, for the rational-above-all Ernst Neufert, that the end really did justify the means. For Neufert, the modular system was as much about construction as about redefining spatial realities, whether they were idealized or derived from reality. Instead, the idea of prefabrication was seized by manufacturing firms who came up with the stifling project of mass-producing whole house types instead of component parts only. The resulting monotony further deepened the horror of a nostalgic, sentimental, unguided public of a prefabricated future.

Only in death did Neufert defy the norm. The total length of his life constitutes a perfect multiple—almost like the system of standard paper sizes he promoted. The earliest of these was the Abbeanum and student house in Jena, completed in ; in he built the Ledingenwohnheim flats in Darmstadt, and he completed the Quelle Mail Order headquarters in Nuremberg in and an Eternit factory in Leimen in In the course of his residencies, Neufert contributed designs for various anonymous buildings in industrial complexes, but these have not been recorded in history.

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