philipp meuser photography
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Enver Hirsch & Philipp Meuser, 2020
During and shortly after the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands makeshift homes (Behelfsheime), were built in and around the destroyed cities of Germany. Many of them were built amidst allotment gardens (Schrebergärten), as these had largely been spared from the bombing of the Allies. Constructed of debris or simplest building materials, most of these houses have since undergone a continuous structural and spatial upgrade.
The first inhabitants and their descendants were provided with a lifelong right to stay, but the time of the Behelfsheime is slowly coming to an end, as this form of living is no longer tolerated: Living space in Germany's big cities is becoming scarce and allotment gardens offer an opportunity for urban densification. After the death or departure of the inhabitants, the houses are demolished or scaled down to the size of an allotment garden cottage.
The photo book “Behelfsheim” deals with the inside and outside of the last remaining Behelfsheime. It combines artistic-documentary photographs with historical graphics, the protocol of a surreal panel discussion and classifies the phenomenon in terms of architectural history.
Hirsch and Meuser document a type of house and its materiality, in which post-war history becomes visible and create the last possible documentation of a temporary arrangement that has survived to this day.
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