Why was France developed with fewer skyscrapers

Part 1: Skyscrapers - How It All Began

Anyone who lived in a skyscraper or apartment block ten or twenty years ago knows exactly how it used to be. Narrow and bad-smelling corridors, filthy entrance areas, bleak views of a sea of ​​houses and elevators that rarely worked. The background noise ranged from neighbors arguing all the time to screaming children on the floors. Dumpsters were always overcrowded or nonexistent and the fight for the parking space every evening was a matter of luck and a lot of trouble. The series of unpleasant living conditions in high-rise buildings can be continued at will.

Mutshaus Hardegsen Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burg_Hardeg

Skyscrapers - they were already known in the Middle Ages

It's hard to believe, but the technology of building high-rise buildings, or rather high-rise buildings, was already known in the Middle Ages. In Westphalia and Lower Saxony, the so-called Muthäuser - also called tower houses - were successfully built in the 14th century. A courage house, as part of a castle, had a high functional value and so it was used as a residential tower as well as a storehouse and armory. Equipped with a kitchen, cellar and dining room, large festivities and official meetings were held in the knight's hall.

Most of these courtyard houses were built with more than three floors and had an extremely solid construction. One of the most beautiful still existing courtyard houses with a 35 meter high tower is located in Hardegsen and was built in 1324. It is the oldest secular structure of this size.

The Kremsmünster observatory in Austria is probably the first known skyscraper in Europe. It is the world's most important eight-story observatory and was built in 1749. To this day, the observatory, which with its beautiful architecture comes closer to the 19th century, is used to measure the daily temperature and weather data and thus achieves the longest series of measurements in the world.

Kremsmünster observatory

High-rise buildings as residential castles

It would be disrespectful to refer to high-rise buildings as rabbit stalls. And yet there was a time when these pure residential castles or tenements were built in many metropolises and cities in Europe. In order to counteract the housing shortage - caused by advancing industrialization - building was carried out “upwards”, without a center, without green spaces, without any periphery or adequate supplies for the residents. Construction was carried out solely for the masses, the so-called dispossessed class, after factories sprout like mushrooms. The highest of emotions was an inner courtyard, where pelvic singers sang for a few pennies. The well-known Berlin draftsman Heinrich Zille described this dilemma as follows: "With an apartment you can kill a person just as much as with an ax."

The population explosion of the Wilhelminian era caused great problems for many urban planners. The population in Berlin doubled in this era from 800,000 to 1.6 million people. To clarify the conditions under which people had to live at the time, it should be mentioned that an average of seven residents alone had to share a toilet. It was common for five people to live in one room. In order to make ends meet financially, the so-called “sleepers” were also taken in, who shared the beds with the actual residents in shifts.

Residential castle Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1984-0926-303 / Sturm, Horst / CC-BY-SA

Prefabricated buildings - a uniformed construction as classic modern

A new and efficient construction method was developed with the so-called prefabricated buildings. Prefabricated elements were manufactured in the factory and were therefore not exposed to the weather. This type of construction is due to a new architectural epoch known as "Classical Modernity" has also been referred to as "International Style". The basic idea corresponded to the turning away from historicism and any playful forms. The aim was to create a modern character that focused on the essentials and functionality. Materials such as steel, prestressed concrete and glass were preferred.

As early as 1910, the first houses with standardized large plates in reinforced concrete were built in New York in the borough of Queens. This uniformed construction, which managed without decorations or ornaments, quickly became known in Europe. In England, France and Germany, for the first time, "prefabricated buildings" were built. In Germany the first project was this "Panel construction" implemented in Frankfurt in 1925 and is known under the name Neues Frankfurt. A little later, projects were implemented in Berlin in 1927 and in Hanover in 1929. Today prefabricated buildings are more likely to be associated with the former GDR.

The next part of our skyscraper series will be about today, what has our world already created and what can we expect next? Stay tuned and wait for the new article!