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  • New Points of View. On the Revival of a Viewing-Tower Enthusiasm

New Points of View. On the Revival of a Viewing-Tower Enthusiasm

Research: Andreas Martin

At the end of the 19th century, in connection with the establishment of a whole series of mountain clubs, viewing towers were erected in the middle German low mountain ranges as well as in urban parks. This “viewing tower movement” followed a more nationalistic variety, the erection of “Bismarck Towers”, almost immediately. In Saxony alone, almost 200 of this landmarks emerged, until the First World War ended those activities. Now, about one century later, in the course of the infrastructural reconstruction following the political turn of 1989/1990 in the new federal states (Neue Bundesländer) of Germany, a numeral accumulation of newly erected viewing towers can be observed. A first overview shows the new construction, the restoration resp. re-utilization of about 50 of these striking buildings. Without question, the wide panoramic view that is provided to the individual by such a costly technical aide like a viewing tower, should be re-evaluated in times of almost unlimited possibilities of geographical and topographical research offered by Google Earth and Google Street view. In past centuries, their significance was loaded by donor, name giver and long-lasting communal financing procedures. The meaning of these buildings to present-day society will be explored. Moreover, starting from these objects, the project focuses on the description of cultural change: who strived for the erection of the towers, which were the arguments for their purpose, and how are these processes based in society? What does that mean to the user of these buildings?