In February 2016 the research project to secure and digitally compile the university’s Theatre Architecture Collection has successfully started.
The academic cooperation between Berlin Technical University and Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin is fincanced by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
Theatre technician and stage architect Prof. Friedrich Kranich bequeathed a collection of portfolios with photographs, tabular descriptions and drawings for 319 theatre buildings in the German-speaking world as well as 600 glass plate negatives, 44 files with educational material from the 1950s – 60s to the university, where it has been stored for approximately 45 years.
First researches disclose the collection’s eventful past: since 1939 on behalf of the chief of public construction, Albert Speer, there had been efforts of editing a reference book titled “The German Theatre”, which was supposed to become a benchmark of all existing theatre architecture in Germany – around 500 at that time. Yet, it never got published.
The collection’s main focus is on the preserved files acompanying the work on said book. An overall historical record of 6000 heterogenic media – such as cyanotyped floor plans, sections, constructional drawings of stage mechanics, photographies, sketches, texts and documents – uniquely capture the situation of German cultural buildings at the moment of emerging WWII in 1939.
In total, 319 central-european theatres (from Germany, France, Russia, Austria, Poland, Slowenia and Czech Republic) are documented. Amongst the collection being 32 houses from Berlin and 20 viennese theatres.
First researches could reveal the unique meaning of this compilation. There is no record of German theatre architecture as neatly documented as in this collection. Unfortunately, the archive can not be used in it’s present state and at the present time. The content has yet to be made accessible.
Franziska Ritter, who is leading the project, emphazises the archive’s potential meaning for further research in the field. Cultural achievements up until 1933 can be reevaluated and – bridging the gap forced by the National Socialists – connected to our current approach to contemporary theatre spaces. It will enable us to reflect upon the innovative theatre spaces that emerged from the theatre reforms in an architecturally historic and scenographic context and with regard to stagecraft.
In cooperation of the study course Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum with the Architecural Museum at Technical University Berlin (Dr. Hans-Dieter Nägelke) as well as the department of Theatre Enginieering at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin (Prof. Bri Newesely) interdicilplinary resources and knowledge of several spanning institutions are channelled to preserve, digitize and provide an online archive of the theater architecture collection.
Student research assistants: Robert Huth, Birte Dördelmann