Everyone could afford a “Villa in the Ticino” back then – for 4.75 Deutschmarks, you could get a 1:87 scale model. This was modeled on an actual residential house on the St Gotthard Pass, which doubly inspired the Faller brothers in 1961. They had a similar villa built at the company headquarters in Gütenbach and in parallel developed an injection-molded kit of the building. Curious stories also surround the glass tower restaurant, an embattled town church and a postmodern high-rise.
“Märklin Modernism – From Architecture To Assembly Kit And Back Again”
May 19 – September 9, 2018
Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)
Schaumainkai 43, Frankfurt am Main
The DAM and moderneREGION AL are presenting selected original postwar Modernist model construction kits. They are juxtaposed to their architectural role models in the form of large-format photographs by Hagen Stier. Two model railway sets bring movement to modern cityscapes and a film by Otto Schweitzer and C. Julius Reinsberg, specially produced for the exhibition, will also be on view. The show is accompanied by the book “märklinMODERNE – Vom Bau zum Bausatz und zurück” (märklinMODERNE – From Architecture to Assembly Kit and Back Again) published by Jovis Verlag.
In 1935, the firm Trix presented the 00 railway on a scale of 1:90. Soon after, almost all manufacturers adopted this scale, including market leader Märklin. In 1950, it was changed from double zero (00) to half zero (H0/1:87). When it was launched the so-called “table railway” remained a privilege of the wealthy. Hermann Göring hoarded several model railways along with looted art at his country estate Carinhall. Yet this toy is free of ideology: It is its creator alone who decides what happens on the model plate. One may hear the symphony of the big city between numerous express rail tracks or a sightseeing train puffing its way through an idyllic mountain village.
While in the 1950s to the 1970s work was progressing full steam ahead on the Economic Miracle and political and social development was increasingly accelerating, the microcosm of the model railway promised a calm place to which one could withdraw. And at the same time offered sufficient novelty each year to delight fans of progress too. Were these supposed toys even intended for children? The inventors certainly envisaged the children of the family constantly competing with fathers and grandfathers for control of the transformer. Indeed, since the early 1960s at the latest playing with miniature railways was marketed as a hobby for the entire family – with the manufacturers thus ensuring sales opportunities across the generations.
As of July 11, 2018 supplemented by the exhibition “Die Villa im Tessin. märklinMODERNE im Ländle” in the architekturgalerie am weißenhof Stuttgart.