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book (design) story #14

lucius burckhardt, max frisch, markus kutter:
die neue stadt

verlag felix handschin, basel / basler politische schriften 3, 1956
printer: buchdruckerei winterthur ag, winterthur
size: 21 x 15 cm
designer: karl gerstner

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the wide response to their manifesto "achtung: die schweiz" (see story 5) prompted the authors to publish this booklet a year later. here they talk about urban planning in more detail. again, karl gerstner (1930-2017) designed the book, using some of the features of "achtung" but adding a few distinctive details.

this copy has still got its yellow jacket band, marketing the authors' names which are not mentioned on the cover. interestingly, the names are not put in alphabetical order, as they are on the title page – here the most famous one comes first.

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the provocative red of the "achtung" cover has given way to a calming green – or is it suggesting "green light"? again, the title starts with a small letter, but now gerstner uses a wide and bold sans-serif. on the title page the three authors are associated with a huge initial each. in the book these big b, f and k letters are used to identify the authors of the text blocks. the asymmetric page layout with its alternating paragraph widths is again similar to "achtung".

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the book ends with a picture section on yellow paper, separated from the text section by a red blank page. the photos show examples of modern architecture, among them the model of a building designed by max frisch.

the first spread postulates that towns should not just "be let grow", but be purposefully designed – like a work of modern abstract art. ironically, the relief by hans arp shown as an examplary piece tells in its title how it was designed: "objèts placés selon les lois de l'hasard"... well, it is beautiful, but do frisch & co really want to suggest that architects should arrange the apartment blocks of a modern suburb like that – "by chance"?

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