1926

The Rasch brothers

The brothers Heinz (1902–1996) and Bodo (1903–1995) Rasch founded their architecture studio in Stuttgart in 1926. Versatile, talented and creative, they shared a strong interest in the ideas of the modernist movement and soon numbered among the major protagonists of “Neues Bauen” (the “New Building” style) in southwest Germany. They embodied a visionary, ingenious spirit paired with solution-driven engineering – a creative approach that is also reflected in their graphic and product design (furniture).

Der Stuhl: Heinz und Bodo Rasch

Stuttgart, Akademischer Verlag Dr. Fritz Wedekind [1928]

Their studio soon turned into an important gathering place for Stuttgart’s design and architecture scene. Besides being friendly with many avant-garde artists like Willi Baumeister, Oskar Schlemmer, Kurt Schnitters and Otto Dix, the Rasch brothers also collaborated closely with brilliant architects, including Walter Gropius, Erich Mendelsohn, Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner. For a short time, Mies van der Rohe used the Rasch studio while the Weissenhof Estate was being constructed in Stuttgart under his direction, and the brothers were responsible for two model units in the central apartment block he designed for the exhibition. Their designs for suspended houses and their ideas for modular or air-filled building structures were revolutionary and unique in the architectural history of the 20th century.

1940

Lilo Rasch-Naegele

Lilo Rasch-Naegele, who married Bodo Rasch in 1940, ran her own drawing studio in Stuttgart’s Reinsburgstrasse and was a sought-after commercial artist, fashion illustrator and book illustrator. She worked for prestigious firms from the textile and publishing sectors, including Gröber-Neufra, ARAL, Schiesser and Elbeo, the advertising department of Stern news magazine, various publishing houses (especially Boje Kurt Desch, Wilhelm Goldmann, Albert Müller, Carl Überreuther and Ullstein-Propyläen) and the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

Lilo Rasch-Naegele: Mercédès Jellinek

Magazine cover of the Mercedes-Benz Illustrierte magazine published to mark the International Motor Show 1955

From 1950 on, the new family villa in Oberaichen near Stuttgart designed by her husband Bodo Rasch became the focal point of Lilo Rasch-Naegele’s life and work. The move to her “art factory”, as she referred to her home and studio in Wispelwald, marked the beginning of a new phase in Lilo Rasch-Naegele’s creative work: she began experimenting with oil paint. The artist’s non-commercial graphic work is no less extensive and stylistically eclectic.

Blue on ocher yellow

1968

Purple on green

1968

Orange on blue

1968

1967

Frei Otto and Bodo Rasch – giving shape to vision

Bodo Rasch Junior, the son of Bodo Rasch Senior and Lilo Rasch-Naegele, began working for Frei Otto while still a student – initially at the University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Lightweight Structures and from 1969 on at the design and development firm Atelier Frei Otto Warmbronn. Rasch oversaw the construction of the Institute’s new building (originally the tensile structure was the prototype for the German pavilion at Expo 1967 in Montreal) and was project leader for the first convertible large-scale umbrellas that Frei Otto designed and constructed for Germany’s National Garden Show in Cologne in 1971. In 1974, he took part in an urban planning competition to design pilgrim accommodation for the tent city in Mina Valley near Mecca. Bodo Rasch converted to Islam in the same year and assumed the additional first name Mahmoud. His close collaboration with Frei Otto led to joint projects and grew into a close friendship. Frei Otto was a consultant on Rasch’s later team until he passed away.

Seidenhaut

Model study 01 – 03

Today

From Rasch & Associates to SL Rasch GmbH

Dr Mahmoud Bodo Rasch founded architectural practice Rasch & Associates in 1980 and the firm Sonderkonstruktionen und Leichtbau (SL GmbH) in 1991, which was renamed SL Rasch GmbH Special & Lightweight Structures in 1998. Rasch’s many years of engagement in the Near East and the implementation of extremely adaptable lightweight structures have led to some spectacular major projects for the holy sites of Islam, including the world’s biggest clock tower in Mecca and the Medina Piazza Shading Project. Today the company is headed by the founder’s son, Mustafa Rasch. Jürgen Bradatsch, who was Dr Mahmoud Bodo Rasch’s chief architect for many years, is Head of Design & Engineering, while Steffen Huber is Chief Financial Officer.