Der Ring Founded

Der Ring was an architectural collective founded in 1926 in Berlin.

It emerged out of expressionist architecture with a functionalist agenda. 'Der Ring' was a group of young architects, formed with the objective of promoting Modernist architecture. It took a position against the prevailing architecture of the time, Historicism. With the rise of National Socialism and the increasing difficulty between Hugo Haring and the other members, Der Ring dissolved in 1933.

Besides the search for a new beginning in building design, the members of the "Ring" were looking for new ways of building. Unlike other groups, be they of the time or before the time like the Glass Chain or the Arbeitsrat für Kunst, they did not have an elaborated programme, that would have provided them with an ideological background. The members often had different attitudes when faced with tasks. Häring and Scharoun rather followed an "organic functionalism" whereas Mies and Gropius were more interested in the possibilities of industrial building.

These different attitudes were reflected in the planning of large scale planned communities of the time, in which the members of the Ring were participating. Six members, Bartning, Forbat, Gropius, Häring, Henning und Scharoun, were part of the project of Siemensstadt in Berlin (1929 through 1931). Some of them later became leading members in the Deutscher Werkbund. Ten of them took part with their buildings in the exhibition of the Werkbund, "Die Wohnung" in Stuttgart-Weißenhof (Weißenhofsiedlung), which was organised by Mies, who had been chairman of the Werkbund since 1926.

The driving force behind the founding of the Ring were Hugo Häring and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe who shared an office in Berlin at the time. Both were already members of the Zehner-Ring (Ring of Ten), that was founded two years before with similar aims. Because its work didn't produce any results worth mentioning — as the Luckhardt brothers put it —, they decided to extend the group in terms of geography and membership. In a letter dated April 1926, they asked several architects in Germany and Austria to join. Shortly after they were invited to a constitutional meeting in Berlin. The members of the Novembergruppe (November-Group), which had been founded in 1918 and whose members, a collective of painters, sculptors and architects, were seeking to transpose the impulse of the November Revolution into the arts, were also asked to take part.

On May 29, 1926, 16 of them met in the office of Mies, wrote a programme and elected Hugo Häring their secretary.

In the meantime the German architects whose work follows newly discovered laws of design, have founded a new association. 'The Ring' — a figure of self-contained form without a head — unites a group of like-minded people to pursue their ideals in unison.”

— The magazine Die Form in issue No. 10, 1926

In the 20’s, Mies was active in a number of the Berlin avant-garde circles ( the magazine 'G' and organizations such as the 'novembergruppe', 'zehner ring', and 'arbeitsrat für kunst') that supported modern art and architecture along with artists like Hans Richter, El Lissitzky, and Theo van Doesburg, among others. major contributions to the architectural philosophies of the late 1920s and 1930s he made as artistic director of the werkbund-sponsored weissenhof project, a model housing colony in stuttgart. The modern apartments and houses were designed by leading european architects, including a block by Mies.

With Bartning, Behrendt, Häring, Mendelsohn, Poelzig, the Tauts, and others, he formed Der Ring, which rapidly became a nationwide organization to reject all historical allusions and styles and to prepare the ground for an architecture of the new epoch supposedly to be based (or to look as though it was based) on contemporary technology. In 1926 Mies designed the monument (destroyed 1933) to the Socialist and Spartacist Karl Liebknecht (1871–1919), the Polish Communist agitator Rosa Luxemburg (1870–1919), and the November 1918 Revolution in the Friedrichsfelde Friedhof, Berlin: of brick projecting and receding planes on which the hammer and sickle were predominantly displayed, it was nevertheless based on a steel-framed construction (so much for ‘honesty’ of expression in building). In the same year he designed the Wolf House, Guben (destroyed), where blocky masses of brick were pierced with windows, and all Historicist references were expunged.

Mies and other members of Der Ring were elected to the Deutscher Werkbund in 1926, which, as a result, shifted ground from its historical mission to promote good industrial design and crafts to become a bullying pressure-group promoting the ‘new architecture’, i.e. that approved by Mies and his circle. As Vice-President of the Werkbund and Director of the proposed Weissenhofsiedlung Exhibition in Stuttgart (1927), he consolidated his reputation as leader of the avant-garde. The exhibition, for which he designed the master-plan and the long apartment-block on the highest land, contained temporary structures as well as over twenty permanent buildings, including villas, designed by leading German and other Modernists, including Bourgeois, Le Corbusier, Oud, and Stam. Predominant motifs were long horizontal strips of windows, smooth white walls, and flat roofs: the image of the cult of International Modernism had been found. Mies was also able to exhibit his tubular-steel chair, the earliest of several later variations that were to place him among the foremost furniture designers of C20. For the International Exposition, Barcelona (1928–9), shortly after he completed the Lange House, Krefeld, Mies designed the German Pavilion with a flat roof supported on steel columns clad in chromium-plated casings and walls of onyx and marble (some of which projected beyond the roof). This little building (demolished 1929, reconstructed 1983–4), exquisitely and expensively detailed, won immediate approval and became one of the most admired paradigms of the late 1920s. It was furnished with Mies's ‘Barcelona Chair’, consisting of a chromium-plated frame with black leather upholstered back and seat. Then followed the Tugendhat House, Brno, Czechoslovakia (1930), with a single storey on the street-frontage and two storeys facing the garden. The living-room was a continuous space with chromium-cased steel columns and free-standing panel, derived from the Barcelona design, while the full-height windows could be fully lowered out of sight, enabling the interior space to extend into the garden terrace. Every detail of the house was purpose-made, designed by the architect.