30 Pages

Introduction: Advancing the Reverie of Utopia

On August 28, 1917, the German architect Bruno Taut sent the completed draft of his anthology Die Stadtkrone (The City Crown) to the Diederichs Verlag in Berlin, Germany.2 Published shortly after the end of the First World War, the leaet announcing its publication described Die Stadtkrone as the “Darstellung eine Gestaltung, eine Form, ein Ideal” (representation of a design, a form, an ideal) to stimulate the common work of mankind towards the creation of a single structure, a crown “über dem leeren Chaos der Städte” (over the empty chaos of the city).3 The character of Maria in Fritz Lang’s 1927 utopian drama Metropolis ascribes a similar role to the “Mediator,” who she believes will unite the dierent classes in constructing a Tower of Babel. In Lang’s lm, the inhabitants of a large industrial city are separated into two classes: wealthy residents, who live a carefree life in articial pleasure gardens abounding with owers, fountains and exotic birds, and a subterranean working class, living beneath the city in poor conditions and making the entire paradise above possible. By exaggerating the polarization of the two classes, Lang sought to expose the social and urban problems that had emerged since the Industrial Revolution in Europe and Germany in particular.4 It was because of his own experiences with civic disorder in German cities that Taut had the inspiration to develop Die Stadtkrone.