Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros17Documents/Sources“A cross section of colonial tech...

Documents/Sources

“A cross section of colonial technology”?
Zooming in and zooming out on a photograph of a 1930s German trade fair

Monika Motylińska
Traduction(s) :
"Kolonialtechnik im Querschnitt"?
Ein Foto einer deutschen Messe aus den 1930er Jahren – zwischen Nah- und Weitblick
 [de]

Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

architecture tropicale, colonialisme

Indice de palabras clave:

arquitectura tropical, colonialismo

Index géographique :

Afrique, Europe, Europe de l’Ouest, Allemagne

Index chronologique :

XXe siècle, entre-deux-guerres
Haut de page

Texte intégral

Introduction: Zooming in

1In a black-and-white photograph depicting what seems like an exhibition setting (fig. 1) we see four architectural models. There is a typical 1900s lodging for the tropics, with an elongated pitched roof and an elevated porch; a smaller prefabricated bungalow; a two-story house with a flat roof, and, featured prominently to the right, a mock-up of a façade (or a whole house) with a veranda framed by what could be sliding doors with mosquito nets.

Figure 1: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934.

Figure 1: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934.

Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.

The photograph also shows several pieces of agricultural equipment and a model of a large water tower. A potted palm contributes to the “exotic” theme. In the background, the exhibition hall opens to another room, where only the timber frame of a pitched roof is clearly visible. There are no people in the picture, suggesting the image is a documentary photograph taken immediately after the construction of the exhibit was completed and before the crowds arrived. This photograph forms part of the archival documentation of the so-called “tropical exhibition” (Germ. Tropenschau) held in 1934. Surviving records of the event demonstrate that the "Tropenschau" attracted many visitors (fig. 2).

Figure 2: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 with visitors.

Figure 2: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 with visitors.

Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.

  • 1 This photograph, as well as other images and written documents and plans, are in the archival coll (...)

This is not surprising. The event was part of the spring trade fair in Leipzig, one of central Europe’s most important trade fairs in the twentieth century.1

  • 2 Itohan Osayimwese, Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany, Pittsburgh, PA: University of P (...)
  • 3 The lack of interest in trade fairs, on the part of architectural and urban historians, contrasts (...)

2This particular visual source serves as a starting point for an initial reflection - to be developed in further research - on the specificities of the German discourse regarding building in the tropics. Several consulted archival documents, including the photograph discussed here, as well as publications from the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s demonstrate that this discourse did not end with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and Germany’s loss of its colonies. So far, such continuity of German technical expertise has been overlooked in international scholarship, especially in the field of architectural and urban planning for the tropics. Although in her award-winning book Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany, architectural historian Itohan Osayimwese recently drew attention to the interwar activities of the German construction firm Christoph & Unmack, her research still focused primarily on the period before 1919.2 I would like to argue that the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau” triggers three main sets of questions, inviting a much needed engagement with German planning for (and in) the “Global South,” specifically during the interwar period. Firstly, the photograph speaks of (post-)imperial and, later, Nazi German colonial ambitions, prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s. Secondly, it allows us to highlight the various entrepreneurial motivations of the actors involved in the trade fair and, in particular, the “Tropenschau.” Finally, in line with the topic of the themed section of this issue of abe Journal, this photograph, as well as other documents found in the State Archive of Saxony in Leipzig, is closely connected with the discourse on “tropical technology” (Germ. “Tropentechnik”) and “building in the tropics” (Germ. “Tropenbau”). While the photograph thus forms a strong reminder of an overlooked episode of German colonial history, it should not be forgotten that all dimensions (colonial/imperial ideology, entrepreneurial motivations, and discussion of construction materials and technologies for building in the tropics), are, in fact tightly interwoven with the transnational exchanges occurring in the 1920s, 1930s, and to some extent the 1940s, for which trade fairs formed lively platforms that are still largely understudied.3 While Germany did lose its colonies in 1919, it was still very much part of larger debates on interventions on the “Global South” that crossed national, colonial, and linguistic boundaries.

  • 4 This research project, hosted by the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (irs), Er (...)

3Our project team found this photograph while conducting archival research across Germany for the recently started research project “Conquering (with) Concrete. German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts.”4 Already, at this early stage of our investigation, it has become evident that what could be deemed a footnote in the history of German colonial resentments following the loss of its colonies, namely an event like the 1934 “Tropenschau,” is actually of much broader relevance for architectural and urban history. As explained in the following, this photograph sheds light on an overlooked chapter in the discourse on tropical architecture - or rather, building in the tropics, a topic that in current international scholarship is often situated either in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, or, conversely, in the 1950s and 60s. In this short exploratory text, I want to argue that much is to be gained from investigating hitherto mostly unacknowledged sources on such events as trade fairs, which offer relevant insights into the mundane world of the economics and the construction business engaged in the “Global South.” I will present three “zooming-outs” from the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau,” each of which focuses on different discourses and groups of actors: firstly the public and the official agenda, secondly the entrepreneurs and their transnational connections, and finally the engineers and architects engaging with the specific typology of the “Tropenhaus.”

Zooming out 1: German colonial ambitions

  • 5 Der Bildbestand der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft in der Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main (...)
  • 6 Such as R. Eberhardt, Bodenbearbeitung in den Tropen, in Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträg (...)
  • 7 Cf. research conducted in the recently completed project “Coast to Coast – Late Portuguese Infrast (...)
  • 8 Such contradictions are part of my ongoing investigation.
  • 9 Dirk van Laak, Imperiale Infrastruktur: deutsche Planungen für eine Erschließung Afrikas 1880 bis (...)
  • 10 See, for instance, the work of Gwendolyn Wright, Zeynep Çelik, Mia Fuller, and others.

4Among the objects on display in the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau,” there is one in the foreground which at first sight could be mistaken for a cannon or howitzer on a carriage. It is actually a plow, however. Browsing through large sets of images of different colonial exhibitions, one gathers that a plow was an essential part of the German repertoire of “colonial technology” (Germ. Kolonialtechnik).5 The device can be linked to specific writings on agriculture in the tropics, and a historian of technology would note the fact that the disc plow on display is of a type designed specifically to till “virgin soil.”6 Indeed, following the colonial notion of cultivating virgin land - and claiming the territory or the landscape, we might interpret the plow as a symbol of the broader discourse on settler colonies. In terms of agricultural technology, a plow might not be much like a field artillery piece. However, the device does fit into the militant jargon of colonial propaganda. Agrarian thinking was ubiquitous in German colonial planning, and remained present in the colonial propaganda of the interwar period. Further investigations could trace parallels and differences with how it occurred in Portuguese and Italian colonial policies, for instance.7 Nonetheless, in the German context, the popularity of the idea that colonies re considered a vast granary did not necessarily exclude the pursuit, at least on the level of propaganda, of extractive colonialism, and both narratives were evocatively represented in German colonial exhibitions.8 Concepts and fantasies of interwar German colonial and imperial thinking such as “Mittelafrika” - according to which Germany was supposed to acquire, by means of war or diplomatic negotiation, vast parts of Central Africa, mostly belonging to the Belgian Congo and to the Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola - have by now been investigated by historians proper, like Dirk van Laak and Karsten Linne,9 to name just two. Yet, much still needs to be uncovered regarding the “politics of design” with regard to German colonial discourse, policies, and practices, the way scholars have been doing for other colonial contexts since the early 1990s.10

5And yet, it would be an oversimplification to categorize the program of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau” depicted in this specific photograph as colonial propaganda alone. To judge the content of the exhibition evoked in the photograph based on leaflets in French and English from the archival file our research team consulted, it was just one out of many typical trade fairs, which displayed a mixture of curiosities attracting crowds of international visitors and formed a platform for making business deals. Both written and visual sources indicate that the focus in such a trade fair setting was clearly on the more mundane objects, technologies, and firms presented, and on a more matter-of-fact kind of display in line with entrepreneurial motivations, rather than on explicit visual propaganda characteristic of the colonial sections at large international and world exhibitions, or illustrated publications with their often militaristic rhetoric.

Zooming out 2: entrepreneurial motivations

6Scrutinizing the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau,” we can discern a plate hanging at the entrance to the mock-up house. It bears the name of a construction company, Transformbau Kletzin GmbH, based in Berlin, Unter den Linden 20. On another photograph, depicting the room from a different angle, we see the logo of another company, more well-known and internationally active: Eternit (actually in this case the model was delivered by Deutsche Asbestzement AG, dazag, a subsidiary of the Belgian-owned Eternit AG). It is attached to a model of a “weekend-house for the tropics” (“Wochenendhaus für die Tropen”) made out of asbestos building components (fig. 3).

Figure 3: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 - another angle.

Figure 3: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 - another angle.

Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.

  • 11 G. Polysius was a specialized firm from Dessau that built cement plants in different parts of the (...)

7Already, in an earlier survey of construction company archives, like those of G. Polysius,11 our research team realized that trade fairs served as important platforms for attracting new customers, engaging in discussion with other exhibitors, and promoting the success narrative of a company. As hubs for the whole construction industry, trade fairs present an interesting opening for an investigation of not only (colonial) politics and propaganda, but also of the dynamics of the construction business, which often operated beyond and across colonial, national, and even linguistic boundaries. This was exactly what prompted our project team to conduct several probes in the archival collection of the international trade fair in Leipzig in the first place, as it was the most important one in Germany. The documentation of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau” we consulted proved promising in this respect. It also contains reports (some of which are quite detailed) on other foreign trade fairs and colonial exhibitions, for instance in Lausanne or Milan. Likewise, there is extensive correspondence from countries such as India, Brazil, and the Union of South Africa with both foreign and German representatives of the Leipzig trade fair. This set of sources reminds us that global links in the 1930s actually were very tight. Brazilian and South African firms and politicians were eager to strengthen their presence at the trade fair in Leipzig. Indeed, a focus on construction firms has great potential for detecting different, less obvious and perhaps less expected connections, occurring outside the strict boundaries established through colonial ideology.

8A shift of attention from the political to the economic sphere also allows us to bring different actors to the fore. In addition to the construction companies as business entities, the architects and engineers who worked for them had their own agency and motivations. In the particular case of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau,” both the photograph discussed and the correspondence related to it attest to a visible interest among smaller, specialized companies in the particular typology of a lodging for the tropics, or so-called Tropenhaus. This type of construction seems not to have preoccupied Germany’s larger, general contractors. Were such global players not interested in attracting new customers? Were they trying to avoid being linked with the colonial project? Or might it be that this particular typology was not considered profitable enough? Such questions regarding their motivations and actions definitely call for further investigation. They are relevant not only from the point of view of economic history, but also for writing an alternative architectural history that steers free from conventional discussions about overlaps between modernism(s), architectural styles, and political ideology.

Zooming out 3: project of a “Tropenhaus”

  • 12 Such sources are central to our aforementioned research project “Conquering (with) concrete” (note (...)

9Apart from small architectural models of houses, another architectural object features prominently in the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau”: a mockup of a house with a veranda, representing a state-of-the-art example of lightweight construction. Together, these objects offer an overview of different solutions for building in the tropics between the 1900s and 1930s. They also demonstrate a particular focus of the trade fair on the particular typology of a “house for the tropics” (Germ. Tropenhaus, short for the Tropenwohnhaus, not to be confused with a greenhouse for "exotic" plants), and on the issue of construction materials and technologies suitable for usage in tropical climate zones. The importance of the theme is further substantiated by the fact that the archives contain a detailed discussion between the architects involved in the event on what a “Tropenhaus” should look like; which technical solutions are best for the humid tropics; and whether steel or wooden frames and panels are more suited. In other words, within an event with an explicit economic and commercial agenda, we can encounter a lively architectural discourse, underlining the importance of such events and their related sources seriously as objects of architectural historical research.12

  • 13 Leipzig (Germany), Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeam (...)
  • 14 Friedrich Vick, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, Berlin: (...)

10One of the key players facilitating the particular discussion related to the concrete exhibition and a broader discourse was the Association of German Engineers (Germ. Verein der Deutsche Ingenieure, vdi) as well as smaller, dedicated organizations such as akotech (Germ. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Auslands- und Kolonialhygiene), which were incorporated into vdi in the course of the 1930s.13 Not only did the association exert influence on the program of the Tropenschau, exhibition depicted on the photograph, it also organized conferences and published a substantial body of mostly gray literature on building in the tropics from the point of view of engineers and architects. One of the authors who specialized in the field of building in the tropics was an architect Friedrich Vick (1904-?). Vick made a name for himself as an expert on natural and mechanical air conditioning. He started publishing in the early 1930s and remained active in the field up to the 1940s. His publications, especially the one from 1938, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, were actively promoted by vdi.14 (figs. 4 and 5)

Figure 4: Cover of Friedrich Vick's, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1938.

Figure 4: Cover of Friedrich Vick's, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1938.

Source: Monika Motylińska.

Figure 5: Full-page advertisement of Friedrich Vick's publication from 1938 (fig. 4) on the back cover of Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942.

Figure 5: Full-page advertisement of Friedrich Vick's publication from 1938 (fig. 4) on the back cover of Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942.

Source: Monika Motylińska.

11As Vick explains in the introduction to his 1938 book, the design of a “Tropenhaus” was not just a purely technocratic problem, but rather posed a much broader challenge.

  • 15 “Da von Zeit zu Zeit immer wieder mehr oder weniger phantastische Vorschläge für Tropenhäuser auft (...)

“Since from time to time more or less fantastic proposals for tropical houses appear, [...] it should be emphasized here that the real problem is not to create a cold or chilly house, but to make it possible to live and work comfortably and healthily [in it], [to build it] with the least amount of available means in a way that is compatible with all other demands of the occupants, is not perceived as an obstacle, and is aesthetically satisfying.”15

Written four years after the 1934 Leipzig trade fair, the quote reads like an a posteriori comment to the “Tropenschau” and the architectural models featured in it.

  • 16 Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942. Networks of German experts (...)
  • 17 Egide-Jean Devroey, Habitations coloniales et conditionnement d’air sous les tropiques, Bruxelles: (...)

12Interestingly enough, Vick - and his fellow authors such as Ernst Rodenwaldt who specialized in tropical medicine and hygiene, or E. Feil who focused on the organization of the construction site under tropical conditions - were interested not only in technical aspects of construction, but also reflected on the cultural and societal contexts, mixing a clearly racist stance with much more nuanced remarks about the benefits of “traditional” construction materials.16 Moreover, the colonial agenda we can discern in publications like Vick’s was closely linked, at least on the level of discourse, with the agency of entrepreneurs, in particular those linked to construction firms. The colonial world (including both the colonies Germany lost after the First World War and the other territories it considered occupying in the context of the “Mittelafrika” discourse) was perceived as a potential and promising terrain of entrepreneurial activity. In the complex mesh of exchanges, organizations such as the Verein der Deutsche Ingenieure facilitated the exchange between the business world and experts such as the above mentioned authors. Trade fairs with their accompanying program of public lectures but also opportunities for informal exchanges acted as key spaces of such interactions. Further research on such events will, no doubt, unlock even greater complexities and insights into the role of certain firms, engineers and architects, but also other brokers and intermediaries like trade representatives or consuls. In that respect, it is interesting to point out that Vick’s work rapidly gained international recognition. His publications were, for instance, cited by foreign authors such the Belgian engineer Egide-Jean Devroey (1894-1972), in his 1940 book Habitations coloniales et conditionnement d’air sous les tropiques, suggesting that during the interwar years there existed a tight-knit transnational network of architects and engineers specializing in building in the tropics. 17

In lieu of a conclusion: ruptures - or continuities?

  • 18 Georg Lippsmeier, Walter Kluska and Carol Gray Edrich, Tropenbau / Building in the Tropics, Munich (...)

13Reflecting on the photograph of the 1934 Leipzig “Tropenschau” and on the notable interwar German interest in building in the tropics invites a final question about continuities and discontinuities. One can indeed wonder if the fact that the German discourse on building in the tropics of the 1930s fell into oblivion in the post-World-War-II period might be the result of a conscious severing of ties to the Nazi past by the generation active at the time. Was the “Stunde Null” (“Hour Zero”) proclaimed in 1945 a rupture also in the field of architecture, as well? For it is striking that none of the publications from the 1930s (or 1940s for that matter) was quoted in the widely received Tropenbau / Building in the Tropics from 1969 authored by Georg Lippsmeier and Kiran Mukerji, nor were they a point of reference for Otto Königsberger, for that matter. This silence calls for further investigation.18

  • 19 Cf. Jiat-Hwee Chang and Anthony D. King, “Towards a genealogy of tropical architecture: Historical (...)

14While there might indeed be a disconnection between the discourses from the 1930s and those from the 1950s and 1960s, with key figures of the latter period being in fact ignorant of the earlier work of people like Vick, a cross-reading of the writings from both periods might prove fruitful, however, in terms of vocabulary, at least. For instance, to translate the term “Tropenbau,” following the interpretation of Georg Lippsmeier, Kiran Mukerji and other members of the Institute for Building in the Tropics (Germ. Institut für Tropenbau), I am inclined to use the term “building in the tropics” as these authors did, rather than “tropical architecture,” a notion that has become quite dominant in scholarship on postwar architecture in the “Global South.” For the former emphasizes the processual aspect of construction, with the notion of “tropics” suggesting a setting and a landscape, perhaps a socio-cultural/political space - which is in line with the observations by Jiat-Lee Chang and Anthony King - rather than the adjective “tropical” used as an attribute or characteristic inherent to the architecture of regions between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.19

Haut de page

Notes

1 This photograph, as well as other images and written documents and plans, are in the archival collection of the Leipzig trade fair in the Saxon State Archive in Leipzig (Leipzig (Germany), Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), 227).

2 Itohan Osayimwese, Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017 (Culture, politics, and the built environment).

3 The lack of interest in trade fairs, on the part of architectural and urban historians, contrasts with the breadth of research on the colonial exhibitions and world expos. For the former, apart from the mentioned monograph by Itohan Osayimwese (note 2), see e.g Patricia A. Morton, Hybrid Modernities. Architecture and Representation at the 1931 Colonial Exposition, Paris, Cambridge, MA; London: The MIT Press, 2000; Nadia Vargaftig, Des empires en carton: les expositions coloniales au Portugal et en Italie (1918-1940), Madrid: Casa de Velázquez, 2016 (Bibliothèque de la Casa de Velázquez, 67); for the latter: Pieter van Wesemael, Architecture of Instruction and Delight: A Socio-historical Analysis of World Exhibitions as a Didactic Phenomenon (1798-1851-1970), Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2001. I do not intend to suggest, however, that a trade fair and a colonial exhibition are mutually exclusive. Often, trade fairs could include a colonial exhibition section, or the other way round. Nevertheless, the focus of each differed: trade fairs were events related to doing business, whereas colonial exhibitions were primarily about self-representation and propaganda of the metropole.

4 This research project, hosted by the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (irs), Erkner, Germany; January 2020-December 2024, is called “Conquering (with) Concrete. German Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts.” Funding for it is being provided by Volkswagen Stiftung through a Freigeist Fellowship. The principal investigator and junior research group leader is Monika Motylińska. Paul Sprute is PhD candidate since April 2020, Lilian Krischer is scientific assistant. Two other PhD candidates will join the team in early 2021. In the first phase of the project, activities and modi operandi of German contractors in the “Global South” during the long twentieth century are being mapped on the basis of broad archival research, in public and private archives as well as oral history collection. This approach will be complemented by different methods of economic geography and social anthropology, in order to reconstruct global flows of labor, capital, ideas and – crucially – construction materials. In the second phase of the project, these observations will be deepened and challenged in the course of fieldwork.

5 Der Bildbestand der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft in der Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, http://www.ub.bildarchiv-dkg.uni-frankfurt.de/Bildprojekt/Bildsammlung/Bildsammlg.htm. Accessed 13 July 2020. Cf. Also Karl Krüger, Tropentechnik: Kolonialtechnik im Querschnitt, Berlin: Elsner, 1939 (Kolonial- und Tropentechnik, 1).

6 Such as R. Eberhardt, Bodenbearbeitung in den Tropen, in Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942, p. 110-118.

7 Cf. research conducted in the recently completed project “Coast to Coast – Late Portuguese Infrastructural Development in Continental Africa (Angola and Mozambique): Critical and Historical Analysis and Postcolonial Assessment” | funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (2016-2019) ptdc/atp-AQI/0742/2014 (principal investigator: Ana Vaz Milheiro); see also: Filipa Fiúza and Ana Vaz Milheiro, "Colonizing and infrastructuring the Angolan territory through colonial settlements", In: Carlos Nunes Silva (Hg.), Routledge Handbook of Urban Planning in Africa, London and New York: Routledge, 2019, p. 90-106; Ana Vaz Milheiro ; Beatriz Serrazina: Diamangs urban project: Between the Peace of Versailles and the Colonial Act, In: Idem, p. 107-122. Vittoria Capresi, Lutopia costruita: i centri rurali di fondazione in Libia (1934-1940), Bologna : Bononia Univ. Press, 2009.

8 Such contradictions are part of my ongoing investigation.

9 Dirk van Laak, Imperiale Infrastruktur: deutsche Planungen für eine Erschließung Afrikas 1880 bis 1960, Paderborn ; Paderborn: Schöningh, 2004; Karsten Linne, Deutschland jenseits des Äquators?: die NS-Kolonialplanungen für Afrika, Berlin: Ch. Links, 2008 (Schlaglichter der Kolonialgeschichte, 9). Cf. also Birthe Kundrus, Phantasiereiche: zur Kulturgeschichte des deutschen Kolonialismus, Frankfurt; New York, NY: Campus Verlag, 2003.

10 See, for instance, the work of Gwendolyn Wright, Zeynep Çelik, Mia Fuller, and others.

11 G. Polysius was a specialized firm from Dessau that built cement plants in different parts of the world from the early twentieth century onwards, until it was nationalized by the government of the German Democratic Republic and in the late 1950s renamed in “Zementanlagenbau Dessau” (this fact proved crucial for the preservation of a fairly comprehensive documentation at the Archive Saxony-Anhalt in Dessau).

12 Such sources are central to our aforementioned research project “Conquering (with) concrete” (note 4).

13 Leipzig (Germany), Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), 228.

14 Friedrich Vick, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1938. For an overview of publications by vdi members related to the topic of building in the tropics see e.g.: Karl Krüger, op. cit. (note 5), p. 72.

15 “Da von Zeit zu Zeit immer wieder mehr oder weniger phantastische Vorschläge für Tropenhäuser auftauchen, […] sei hier betont, daß es nicht das eigentliche Problem ist, ein kaltes oder kühles Haus zu schaffen, sondern mit dem geringsten Maß der zur Verfügung stehenden Mittel ein angenehmes und gesundes Wohnen und Arbeiten auf eine Weise zu ermöglichen, die sich mit allen übrigen Ansprüchen der Insassen vereinbaren läßt, dabei nicht als hindern empfunden wird und auch in ästhetischer Hinsicht befriedigt” (Friedrich Vick, op. cit. (note 14), p. 8.)

16 Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942. Networks of German experts working on the built environment and nuances of their discourse in the interwar period are being investigated within the framework of our research project (note 4).

17 Egide-Jean Devroey, Habitations coloniales et conditionnement d’air sous les tropiques, Bruxelles: impr. M. Hayez, 1940 (Institut royal colonial belge. Section des sciences et techniques. Mémoires, t. 2, fasc. 2). My thanks goes to Johan Lagae who pointed out this link between the Belgian and the German discourses and highlighted the importance of the work of F. Vick in this context. Cf. G. A. Bremner, Johan Lagae, Mercedes Volait: “Intersecting Interests: Developments in Networks and Flows of Information and Expertise in Architectural History,” Fabrications, vol. 26, no. 2, p. 227-245. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10331867.2016.1173167.

18 Georg Lippsmeier, Walter Kluska and Carol Gray Edrich, Tropenbau / Building in the Tropics, Munich: Callwey, 1969 and Georg Lippsmeier and Kiran Mukerji, Tropenbau, [2nd fully revised edition], Munich: Callwey, 1980; Otto H. Koenigsberger, Manual of tropical housing and building. 1. Climatic design, London: Longman, 1974. Together with Rachel Lee (previously LMU Munich, from September 2020 TU Delft) I am investigating the topic of “social architecture” as proposed by Georg Lippsmeier and Kiran Mukerji in our research project “Tropical Architecture Made in Bavaria? The Institut für Tropenbau and the Making of Social Infrastructure in Africa” funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/CCA Montreal multidisciplinary research program “Centring Africa” (October 2019-March 2021).

19 Cf. Jiat-Hwee Chang and Anthony D. King, “Towards a genealogy of tropical architecture: Historical fragments of power-knowledge, built environment and climate in the British colonial territories,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 32, no. 3, 2011, p. 283-300. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9493.2011.00434.x. Cf. also David Arnold’s investigations of the notion of “tropicality” (David Arnold, “Inventing Tropicality,” in The Problem of Nature: Environment, Culture and European Expansion, Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 1996 (New Perspectives on the Past), p. 141-168, and Idem, “‘Illusory Riches’: Representations of the Tropical World, 1840-1950,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, vol. 21, no. 1, January 2000, p. 6-18. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9493.00060.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934.
Crédits Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8193/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 178k
Titre Figure 2: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 with visitors.
Crédits Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8193/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 102k
Titre Figure 3: "Tropenschau" during the spring fair in Leipzig 1934 - another angle.
Crédits Source: Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Bestand 20202 Leipziger Messeamt (I), F 227.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8193/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 97k
Titre Figure 4: Cover of Friedrich Vick's, Einfluß des tropischen Klimas auf Gestaltung und Konstruktion der Gebäude, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1938.
Crédits Source: Monika Motylińska.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8193/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 102k
Titre Figure 5: Full-page advertisement of Friedrich Vick's publication from 1938 (fig. 4) on the back cover of Tropen- und Kolonialtechnik in 27 Beiträgen, Berlin: VDI-Verlag, 1942.
Crédits Source: Monika Motylińska.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/8193/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 135k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Monika Motylińska, « “A cross section of colonial technology”?
Zooming in and zooming out on a photograph of a 1930s German trade fair »
ABE Journal [En ligne], 17 | 2020, mis en ligne le 09 décembre 2020, consulté le 20 janvier 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/8193 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/abe.8193

Haut de page

Auteur

Monika Motylińska

PhD, junior research group leader, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (irs), Erkner, Germany

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
La revue ABE Journal est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search