As the go-to cladding material for a range of new utilitarian building types, machine-made brick appeared across Germany during the industrial boom of the 1890s. In response, in 1904, the Bund Heimatschutz (League of Homeland Protection) was formed to defend the traditional German landscape against the visual blight of industrialization. The organization began campaigning against the use of brick cladding, which it viewed as a sin against propriety and national character. By 1914, however, the situation had changed, and bricks and ceramics had firmly cemented their place within the bounds of cultural permissibility for architectural façades. Focusing on Berlin and Hamburg, this article discusses the processes that enabled the acceptance of brick cladding, shedding new light on the changing character of architectural theory during the prewar era, as architects forged new tools to reconcile history and modern life.

As the go-to cladding material for a range of new utilitarian building types, machine-made brick appeared across Germany during the industrial boom of the late nineteenth century.1 Oftentimes cold and monotonous, brick buildings soon became perceived as threats to cultural propriety and national character. In 1904, the architect Paul Schultze-Naumburg led the establishment of the Bund Heimatschutz (League of Homeland Protection) to defend the traditional German landscape against the visual blight of industrialization. One of the organization’s central goals was to reform façade treatment, and it advocated for the revival of the white plaster wall characteristic of the Biedermeier era. The influence of the Heimatschutz movement proved so strong that many German cities began to indiscriminately whitewash their historic architecture and place wholesale bans on the use of bare-brick cladding for new buildings.

The movement threatened Germany’s brick facing industry, but it also provoked backlash from those who were otherwise sympathetic to the cultural mission of local heritage protection. After all, brick had served as a popular cladding material since the Middle Ages, particularly in the regions of northern Germany that lacked access to natural stone. To condemn the material for the transgressions of the preceding few decades, many argued, was to ignore a sophisticated tradition of bare-brick construction that had strengthened the civic identity of northern German cities for centuries. After 1904, brick experienced a revitalization in Berlin and Hamburg, especially in the spheres of residential, public, and commercial construction, whereby the material came to be seen as mirroring the noble simplicity of the middle-class citizens whom it represented and served. By 1914, brick had firmly cemented its place within the bounds of cultural propriety for architectural façades in these cities.

The history of brick’s changing value in early twentieth-century Germany remains understudied, perhaps because the Heimat-inspired architecture of central and southern Germany, characterized by white stucco and minimal ornamentation, offers obvious lines of continuity with the style of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) that became synonymous with German modernism.2 While the history of brick facing architecture in Germany has been the subject of recent studies, these have tended to focus on either the nineteenth century or the Weimar and National Socialist eras.3 Isolated protomodernist industrial works such as Peter Behrens’s AEG Small Motors Factory on Voltastrasse in Berlin (1910–13), Hans Poelzig’s Chemical Factory in Luboń (1911–12), and Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer’s Fagus Factory in Alfeld (1911) have received frequent scholarly attention, but the broader cultural currency of facing brick in German society remains obscure. Moreover, studies have rarely examined examples of brick construction in Berlin and Hamburg in the context of debates on localism. As the industrial and commercial titans of the newly formed German Reich, these cities were typically viewed as antithetical to the decentralized ideal of the “small town” so cherished by Heimat enthusiasts. For conservative-minded architects, they were the Molochs of modern Germany, ripping through the traditional fabric of society and destroying all forms of cultural particularism in their path.

Yet the status of these cities as outliers to established Heimatschutz rhetoric also provided grounds for rich debate about the uses and potential limits of localist thinking in architecture. As this article argues, brick offered a means for architects and architectural critics working in Berlin and Hamburg to engage meaningfully with the national Heimatschutz movement while testing some of its biases. The material provided architects with new tools to reconcile history and modernity, producing an architecture that showed a certain reverence for tradition but was nonetheless consciously updated to accommodate modern middle-class sensibilities. The movement to revive bare brick stood as an affront to the notion of a singular German style by focusing not on the art that northern German cities did not get but on the art they did get. While new brick buildings in Berlin and Hamburg helped to challenge the narrow premises of the Heimatschutz movement, they nevertheless served to reaffirm a stable sense of German identity worth protecting.

Brick building in modern Germany traces back to the work of Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841). In Berlin, Schinkel produced a handful of celebrated works clad in brick: the Neue Wache (royal guardhouse) (1816–18), the Friedrichswerdersche Church (1824–30), the Bauakademie (1831–36), and the Feilner House (1828–29), an urban residence built for the local pottery manufacturer Tobias Feilner, which featured decorative friezes made from the client’s own ceramics. Early twentieth-century art historians and critics viewed the Feilner House in particular as representative of Schinkel’s turn away from universalist classicist principles and toward better accommodation of the modest material needs of rising middle-class industrialists like Feilner. Cheap, durable, and down-to-earth (bodenständig), bricks resonated with a pietist sense of thrift.

The biggest technological developments in brick manufacturing came after Schinkel’s death. These included the invention of the Hoffmann kiln as well as machines that processed clay more efficiently. These advances improved the technical and aesthetic quality of bricks, giving them greater compressive strength, more precise edges, more uniform coloration, and smoother surface texture. Following the introduction of the metric system, greater efforts were made to standardize brick sizes, with the “imperial format” (Reichsformat) of 250 by 120 by 65 millimeters introduced in 1872, and a slightly larger format for finer facing bricks, 252 by 122 by 69 millimeters, introduced in 1879. This standardization simplified the manufacturing process and led to its expansion.4 Large factories specializing exclusively in facing brick arose in the region of Silesia, as the new railway made it possible for manufacturers to transport a steady supply of facings to Berlin. For the production of backing masonry bricks, however, more traditional techniques, particularly manual molding, continued to thrive and remained economical. These kinds of bricks came to Berlin from many smaller factories in Brandenburg that dotted the banks of the Havel River.

A number of new buildings in Berlin carried on the tradition of sophisticated brickwork initiated by Schinkel while utilizing the technical advances made in the brick facing industry, including Hermann Friedrich Waesemann’s Rotes Rathaus (1861–69) and Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden’s opulent Renaissance-style brick- and terracotta-clad Museum of Applied Arts (1877–81).5 As Berlin’s chief city architect (Stadtbaurat) from 1872 to 1896, Hermann Blankenstein did much to help standardize brick facing products. His buildings, which included many hospitals, fire stations, police stations, market halls, and schools, were clad in smooth yellow and red brick and featured terracotta entablature created from standard molds, making for a decorative but utilitarian Renaissance style.

Outside Berlin (which remained firmly Italianate under the influence of Schinkel), bare-brick cladding received great impetus through the neo-Gothic revival led by architect Conrad Wilhelm Hase in Hanover. Early works in this tradition were largely civic and included both Hase’s and Johannes Otzen’s many celebrated churches. However, owing to its claims to represent structural “truth,” the redbrick Gothic style quickly gained a more profane character as it became the go-to style for factory and warehouse construction across Germany (the most notable example being Franz Andreas Meyer’s monumental Speicherstadt in Hamburg, begun in 1885).6

The nineteenth-century revival of professional interest in brick cladding ran parallel to developments in art historical research, which had experienced an awakening under the broad influence of Gottfried Semper, who considered traditional applied arts materials, including ceramics, to be the wellspring of all architectural practice.7 The realm of applied arts in general was the object of increasingly higher valuation in German society, with institutions such as the Museum of Applied Arts dedicated to its study. For art historians of the late nineteenth century, materials typically considered lowly, such as brick, began to play an important role in the pursuit of stylistic classification. Popular art historical surveys by Wilhelm Lübke and Robert Dohme began to canonize works of Christian brick architecture.8 Incorporating refined ornamental brickwork, the Cistercian monasteries of Lehnin and Chorin and the church of St. Katharinen in Brandenburg an der Havel (all located in the Brandenburg region) were upheld as exemplary medieval works. They gave authority to the substyle of the “northern German brick Gothic” and put brick buildings (almost) on par with the famed stonework of the Cologne and Strasbourg cathedrals. Numerous books and art history journals offered penetrating research into the technical innovations in brickwork of the Middle Ages.9

The fact that brick construction continued to thrive in northern Germany well into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries bolstered it as a candidate for a uniquely “German style.” While the European Renaissance was largely characterized by a whitewashing of antiquity, northern German trade cities of the Hanseatic League, such as Lüneburg and Lübeck, experienced their own renaissance in brick architecture, captured in the distinctive Gothic stepped gables of their merchant town houses and warehouses (Figure 1). Brick construction in these cities was often accompanied by a rich and polychromatic ornamental program of iridescent glazing and richly carved terracotta friezes. The burgeoning wealth of Hanseatic merchants caused ceramic decoration to come into maturity in an extravagant fashion, so much so that modern critics claimed that the architecture of these cities could best be described as a “potter style.”10 The colorful red and blue brickwork and terracotta ornamentation of Lübeck’s city gates provided enduring inspiration for fairy tales (Figure 2).

Figure 1

Salt warehouses, Lübeck, 1579–1745 (author’s photo).

Figure 1

Salt warehouses, Lübeck, 1579–1745 (author’s photo).

Close modal
Figure 2

Holsten Gate, Lübeck, 1464 (author’s photo).

Figure 2

Holsten Gate, Lübeck, 1464 (author’s photo).

Close modal

The rediscovery of Germany’s brick tradition in art historical scholarship played a significant role in giving the inhabitants of northern German cities a sense of identity—one shaped less by political or ethnic borders than by shared emotional attachments to the material environment. It also gave workers in the clay industries a sense of connection to the past, as numerous professional and industry magazines cultivated the image of brickmaking as a métier.

But with this strengthened sense of identity came tensions concerning how the past few decades ought to be read against brick’s longer history. While producers of machine-made brick saw this product as part of a progressive history of technical-artistic accomplishment that had roots in the Middle Ages, others saw it as a deviation and lamented the loss of the traditional hand-molding techniques that had previously ennobled the work of the brickmaker (Figure 3).11 The expressive craftsmanship evident in medieval church architecture offered a revealing contrast to the soullessness of Blankenstein’s utilitarian, cookie-cutter approach, which not only characterized the architect’s activities in Berlin but also found imitators in Prussian state building departments. By the mid-1890s, Blankenstein’s name had become synonymous with the rigidity of state bureaucracy and aroused indignation among the public, with one critic describing the “unspeakable dreariness” of the endless rows of schools, barracks, and prisons all clad in smooth red brick, all with “mindlessly incised round-arched windows framed with brick ornaments, with timid arrangements of clumsy friezes that formally apologize for being there, with cornices devoid of craft.”12 Even the writer of Blankenstein’s obituary suggested that the “goddess of beauty attempted in vain to get beyond the fence” at the architect’s construction sites.13 The neo-Gothic style, too, had reached a phase of oversaturation and stagnation by the 1890s, as Hase’s less creative pupils resorted to selecting ornamental additions from pattern books of factory-made brick molds, a development that led to an increasingly banal industrial landscape.14

Figure 3

Copper engraving of a brickmaker at work, date unknown (Jürn Reimer, “Der Ziegler,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 41, no. 17 [Feb. 1917], 104).

Figure 3

Copper engraving of a brickmaker at work, date unknown (Jürn Reimer, “Der Ziegler,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 41, no. 17 [Feb. 1917], 104).

Close modal

In the first few years of the twentieth century, the growing aesthetic preference for stucco rather than brick facing was legitimated in architectural criticism by the establishment of the Bund Heimatschutz. The organization quickly gained national influence, spawning many local branches across Germany. Nevertheless, most of the movement’s leading protagonists came from Saxony and Thuringia and had strong emotional attachments to the architecture of these states.15 Most also held socially conservative views and sought to promote an architectural idiom that exalted traditional middle-class (bürgerlich) values of sobriety, self-sufficiency, civic virtue, and down-to-earthness (Bodenständigkeit).

As the first chairman of the Bund Heimatschutz, Paul Schultze-Naumburg, who was a painter, architectural autodidact, and national-conservative ideologue, became the major figurehead behind the movement. He was known (in some circles notoriously) for his strong stylistic preference for the sober whitewashed façades characteristic of the neoclassical era of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) and the Georgian-inspired Biedermeier era (1815–48).16 Schultze-Naumburg’s multivolume photographic collection Kulturarbeiten (Cultural Works, 1901–7) was influential in sanctioning a set of exterior building qualities that he deemed worthy of preservation and emulation. In a similar format to A. W. N. Pugin’s Contrasts (1836), Kulturarbeiten was largely didactic, featuring photographs that Schultze-Naumburg had taken of “good” built examples on the verso pages and “bad” counterexamples on the recto pages. A good building typically took the form of a modest farmhouse or burgher town house belonging to the architect’s favored era and featured white plastered walls, minimal decoration, and a classicist simplicity. Almost all of these buildings were located in Schultze-Naumburg’s Thuringian Heimat. Most of the counterexamples on the recto pages belonged to the late nineteenth century, during which time architecture reached its lowest level, according to the author. The counterexamples were utilitarian structures of machine-produced brick, which Schultze-Naumburg lamented had the character of penitentiaries (Figure 4). The photographs in Kulturarbeiten were supplemented by textual commentary written in a casual and emotive style. When discussing a counterexample, he would often speak directly to his readers, urging them, for instance, to “take it in. Does it warm your heart? Do you feel anything at all? I don’t.”17

Figure 4

A “bad” building chosen by Paul Schultze-Naumburg as a “counterexample” to a “good” building (Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Kulturarbeiten: Dörfer und Kolonien [Munich: Callwey, 1908], 11).

Figure 4

A “bad” building chosen by Paul Schultze-Naumburg as a “counterexample” to a “good” building (Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Kulturarbeiten: Dörfer und Kolonien [Munich: Callwey, 1908], 11).

Close modal

While the commentary was trite, Kulturarbeiten was widely influential. It gave architects permission to celebrate cheap and simple building materials for their objective (sachlich) and down-to-earth quality. It eschewed elitism in art criticism by encouraging intuitive and experiential responses to buildings among the general populace. Most significantly, it initiated debate about how a building’s exterior could articulate a sense of propriety as an embodiment of the spirit of its locale. As John Ruskin’s work began to be translated into German in the early 1900s, Ruskinian ideals about “truth” and “honesty” in architecture took hold in conservative Heimatschutz circles. In Schultze-Naumburg’s work, the analogous quality of being “proper” (echt—also meaning “authentic,” “genuine,” and “real”) became closely linked to the ideal of the town or village community as the milieu in which one’s instincts for Heimat were cultivated. Evoking less the divinely ordained “Nature” that Ruskin and Pugin saw in honest material expression and good craftsmanship, propriety stood for a building that cultivated familiarity for an individual’s native town, which in turn cemented a sense of social belonging in a changing world. While Schultze-Naumburg campaigned for the protection of the natural landscape, his ideal of Heimat was closely tied to the features of the townscape as a harmonious work of art. He dedicated two volumes of Kulturarbeiten to documenting traditional town and village forms.18

In his reverence for small-town life, Schultze-Naumburg was drawing on a theme with deep roots in German literature and thought, beginning with the work of eighteenth-century Counter-Enlightenment thinker Justus Möser. Dedicating his career to documenting his beloved hometown of Osnabrück, Möser believed the traditional village community represented the locus of middle-class social life.19 The familiar, stable world of the small town offered its natives a sense of grace and dignity. Most important, it offered them a sense of self. Möser described the individuals whose identity was molded from their community as the “genuine ones” (die Echten).20 The community ideal remained a perennial theme in German literature before it was more rigorously theorized by sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies in the late nineteenth century. For Tönnies, the original social purpose of handicraft was, foremost, to infuse the community with a sense of self-sufficiency and collective belonging through the adornment of its gates, town halls, and churches.21

If the village community remained a relic of the premodern past in the eyes of Tönnies, in Schultze-Naumburg’s hands it clearly offered an enticing point of reference for future planning and heritage policy. The stakes were not simply architectural. As Schultze-Naumburg’s influence was felt in the halls of every state and municipal department in Germany concerned with civic renewal, cladding materials began to stand in for far bigger questions about urban citizenship. While not many cultured Germans would have objected to the tenets of Heimatschutz in principle, fissures emerged when well-meaning local officials implemented requirements that all new buildings reflect a “Heimat style,” even though they were reluctant to articulate exactly what that meant (beyond suggesting that those still confused might consult Kulturarbeiten).22 Outright prohibition of brick cladding began. In 1906, the city of Darmstadt issued a decree stating that “only proper [echt] (i.e., natural) material should be used” for the façades of buildings located in the city’s urban core, and “artificial materials,” including bricks, should be avoided. Paradoxically, the ordinance proceeded to clarify that artificial cement could be mixed with natural plaster to cover brick façades: “It should only be avoided that bricks as such . . . are used to achieve a general effect.”23

The decree drew the ire of some critics, including Otto Stiehl, a prominent municipal architect and teacher at the Technical University of Berlin. “Certainly a wonderful interpretation of ‘proper’ and ‘natural’!” Stiehl sarcastically remarked on the ordinance’s paradoxical clause.24 The architect applauded the spirit of municipal intervention represented by the decree but asked why bricks became more “natural” and “proper” simply by being coated with whitewash, while bricks “as such” immediately transgressed the bounds of propriety.25 Despite Stiehl’s protests, other German towns began to introduce similar bans on bare brick, including Siegen, Hildesheim, and Aschaffenburg in 1908, Odenthal and Bonn in 1909, and Baden-Baden in 1910.26

Perhaps in response to these and similar controversies, more publications appeared that sought to expand Schultze-Naumburg’s definition of authentic Heimat architecture, skewed as it was toward the smaller towns of central Germany. After all, the very appeal of Heimat as a national ideal was based on celebrating the heterogeneity of local culture. Art historian Julius Baum and architect Gustav Wolf’s three-volume photographic survey The Beautiful German City, for example, examined the architectures of southern, central, and northern German cities independent of one other, emphasizing their unique beauty in terms of geography, materials, and the sensibilities of their people. According to Wolf, northern Germany, with its brick architecture, while not as outwardly attractive as other regions, was serious, masculine, and down-to-earth. Reminiscing over the granular, patinated, hand-cut quality and powerful red color of traditional brick, Wolf suggested that perhaps the recent condemnations of the material had “thrown the baby out with the bathwater.”27

A lecturer in architecture at the Technical University of Hanover and an avid writer on traditional German building, Albrecht Haupt led the way in promoting brick as a material capable of exuding an appropriately local (heimatlich) quality. For Haupt, the fact that brick construction was cheap, hygienic, and durable, and thus amenable to the worst kinds of exploitation for utilitarian purposes, did not mean it was incapable of high artistic feats. Commissioned as part of a propaganda campaign on behalf of the Association of German Facing Brick and Terracotta Manufacturers, Haupt’s 1910 photographic brochure German Brick Building of the Present and Its Position: Also a Question of Heimatschutz was intended as a corrective to Kulturarbeiten.28 In the publication Haupt mocked the follies of the Biedermeier revival, predicting that “‘art loving’ gentlemen” would soon be flocking to the auction houses to buy discarded trash from older families in order to “furnish their home à la ‘proper’ Biedermeier.”29 Haupt maintained that Schultze-Naumburg’s background as a painter had schooled him in the art of photographic manipulation for picturesque effect, leading to a distorted view of white plastering as a quintessential source of all German values.

The brochure mimicked the presentation style and emotive commentary of Kulturarbeiten but excluded “counterexamples,” focusing exclusively on photographic examples of noble brick building traditions that characterized many towns in northern Germany, including Lübeck, Tangermünde, Danzig, Wismar, Lüneburg, Stendal, Hamburg, and Hanover (see Figures 1 and 2), as well as cities in neighboring nations that had been shaped by Hanseatic trade and the Prussian Crusade. The publication represented less an endorsement of a return to picturesque medievalism than a lesson in the ease with which any kind of façade material could be strategically selected and photographed for picturesque effect. While Haupt admitted that black-and-white photography dulled the brick wall’s true expressiveness, he nonetheless sought to show that brick massing was capable of evoking the same emotive qualities as white plaster: civic pride, warmth, belonging, down-to-earthness, coziness, stability, objectivity (Sachlichkeit), and propriety.30

Haupt invited his readers on a virtual tour through German towns as he pointed out their merits. Danzig’s church of St. Katharinen, Haupt explained, spoke of the “assuredly comfortable relationship between the community and the building, of a kind of cheerfulness toward the church; but also of a strong affection, of a steadfast bond to it.” Lüneburg’s town hall conveyed the “zeal of its council that watches over the well-being of the citizenry . . . a real bürgerlich business architecture; nothing boastful; pure Sachlichkeit. And yet full of all sorts of charm” (Figure 5). The typical stepped-gable Lüneburg merchant town house radiated a certain coarseness but testified to the presence of middle-class comfort and prosperity (“Is it not just as beautiful as what the Biedermeier period whispers in our ears?”) (Figure 6).31 For Haupt, these brick buildings were no less worthy of artistic protection than plastered buildings; they simply spoke a different dialect: “They speak Low German.”32

Figures 5

Town hall, Lüneburg, begun 1230 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, KBB 13.688).

Figures 5

Town hall, Lüneburg, begun 1230 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, KBB 13.688).

Close modal
Figure 6

Town house, Lüneburg, ca. early fifteenth century (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, fm623984).

Figure 6

Town house, Lüneburg, ca. early fifteenth century (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, fm623984).

Close modal

By the time Haupt’s brochure was published, leading Heimatschutz spokespeople had begun to soften the movement’s original rhetoric in recognition that a truly down-to-earth architecture meant acknowledging the nation’s regional diversity. In 1911, the Union of Architects’ and Engineers’ Associations (Verband Deutscher Architekten- und Ingenieur-Vereine) published the pamphlet On the Aesthetics of Building Materials: A Contribution to the Heimatschutz Movement, which offered advice to building industry professionals on how to align their goals with those of heritage protection.33 Written by Karl Schmidt, a chairman of the Saxony branch of the Bund Heimatschutz, it clarified that the movement never sought to champion one style over others, but rather sought to “eliminate the question of style altogether. Because it is not stylistic details that constitute the significance of a building for the purpose of Heimatschutz, but the extent to which the rhythm of its masses, its contours, and its colors are integrated into the surroundings.” Schmidt argued that just as a brick building would not belong in an “old-gray street scene,” a plaster building could not exist in a brick street without disturbing its “painterly balance.”34

The discourse on Heimatschutz ultimately gave architects who were interested in brick an opportunity to align their tastes (and limited budgets) with the values of a national (and patriotic) reform movement—and in the process abandon nineteenth-century commitments to stylistic correctness and notions of structural “truth” and technical perfection that hitherto justified the exclusive use of machine-made bricks for architectural façades. It also ignited a push for new products and services. Among the professional associations, competitions, exhibitions, and magazines dedicated to clay trades, lively debates occurred over the ideal size, color, and texture of facing bricks.35 On the issue of size, for example, architects began to reject the imperial format in favor of the more regionally inflected “monastery format” (Klosterformat) of 285 by 133 by 85 millimeters. This larger format—which, as its name suggests, was typical of northern Germany’s redbrick churches—provided a more monumental and stable character appropriate for the construction of civic buildings.36 This shift in taste had an undeniably ideological character, as a switch to the monastery format proved debilitating for the operations of larger machine-driven factories such as those in Silesia.37

More local brickworks in Rathenow, Brandenburg, which had continued to produce hand-molded bricks throughout the nineteenth century, proved better equipped to switch to new formats to serve the nation’s capital (and the bricks they produced were usually cheaper than machine-made facings). Rathenow bricks additionally catered to a growing preference for the roughly textured, uneven surfaces (caused by the streaks of water used to separate the bricks from their molds) that were characteristic of traditional hand-molding. As an aversion to the liquid-smooth texture of machine-made bricks grew, some industrialists even attempted to roughen their products through various mechanical means, including sandblasting (Figure 7).38

Figure 7

Illustration of various brick products; at top left (no. 1) is a typical hand-molded brick, while all the others are machine-cut bricks roughened by various mechanical means (Otto Stiehl, “Rauhe Verblendsteine,” Architektonische Rundschau 24, no. 9 [1908], 66; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 7

Illustration of various brick products; at top left (no. 1) is a typical hand-molded brick, while all the others are machine-cut bricks roughened by various mechanical means (Otto Stiehl, “Rauhe Verblendsteine,” Architektonische Rundschau 24, no. 9 [1908], 66; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal

On the issue of color, architects increasingly turned away from the uniform yellow characteristic of Blankenstein’s architecture as they sought more subtle and earthy hues. They also began selecting bricks with more tonal variations, joining them with thicker white mortar to create a lively façade effect.39 According to Otto Stiehl, such tonal variation corresponded to the conditions of nature, which “does not know areas of uniform coloring at all” but rather exhibits lively plays of color everywhere, including “on the masses of foliage and meadow surfaces, on mountain faces, on the water, and yes, even on street surfaces.”40 Some architects urged factories not to sort their bricks according to color but rather to ship them straight from the kiln so that their “natural” tonal variety would provide the desired rhythmic effect.41 Of significance too was the growing popularity of clinker bricks, with their scorched, often black-blue color, irregular shape, and shiny surfaces, achieved through the firing of wet bricks at intense heat. These bricks, which could be produced easily using mechanical methods, gained an earthy appearance though the unevenness of their baking.

The Prussian architect and Deutscher Werkbund founder Hermann Muthesius proved to be the most influential advocate for traditional methods in brick construction. Shortly after taking a post as technical and cultural attaché at the German embassy in London in 1896, Muthesius reported on recent innovations in English brick construction for the Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung. He argued that from the 1850s onward, England became home to a genuine middle-class secular tradition of residential building, which shed aristocratic pretense by taking inspiration from brick as a humble but time-tested building material suitable for modest domestic needs. “London is essentially a brick city,” Muthesius claimed. And while the city’s endless brick roads could be “unpleasant enough,” they were still “less offensive than the faux pomp and brazen dishonesty of the Berlin stucco street.”42

Muthesius maintained that English architects (namely, Philip Webb, William Eden Nesfield, and Richard Norman Shaw) felt free to experiment with traditional craft methods in brick cladding and naturally avoided the rigid formalism of the neo-Gothic revival.43 Repelled by the smoothness of machine-made bricks, they sought rough surfaces that imbued their work with “honesty and Sachlichkeit.”44 Most attractive for the Prussian architect was a particular decorative cutting method, imported to England by Dutch builders in the sixteenth century, that was used to animate friezes, window and door frames, and other surfaces. Rather than inserting premolded terracotta reliefs into a wall, sculptors cantilevered the brickwork from the wall and manually carved out figurative elements and ornamental features in situ.45 Seemingly dissolving the boundaries between the architectonic and the sculptural, this method gave bricks and mortar joints a new cohesion that brought the wall to life. For Muthesius, this decorative method softened the naturally coarse appearance of the brick house without straying into needless ostentation or pattern-book predictability.

Guided by what he perceived as a shared Germanic heritage, Muthesius considered it natural to absorb English lessons and reappropriate brick for northern Germany, where it had long existed as “a given method of construction, more so than in England.”46 When he returned to Berlin, Muthesius built two significant houses in brick. The Freudenberg House (1907–8) in Nikolassee was characterized by its sturdy masses of dark-red Rathenow hand-cut bricks and strong white mortar joints, the monotony of which was broken up with white timber framing and a large “charitable roof that promises a home” (Figure 8).47 Red clinker bricks formed the checkerboard pattern used on the terrace.48 The Breul House (1911) in Grunewald was clad with small-format brown-red Dutch hand-cut bricks (jointed with a yellow mortar to avoid a pinkish overall effect). It was particularly experimental in its employment of the Dutch-English cutting method, with local sculptor Walter Schmarje chiseling abstract ornamental patterns into cornices and pillars in situ, creating a refined overall appearance. Noting the connection of the façade’s colors with the spruce trunks of the nearby forest, Robert Breuer reported that the Breul House was a “down-to-earth country house in the best sense.”49

Figure 8

Hermann Muthesius, Freudenberg House, Nikolassee, Berlin, 1907–8, view of the terrace side (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, fm1072528).

Figure 8

Hermann Muthesius, Freudenberg House, Nikolassee, Berlin, 1907–8, view of the terrace side (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, fm1072528).

Close modal

Most notable for critics was thus the sense of rootedness and dignity that Muthesius managed to convey with what were essentially cheap materials. His residential brick buildings served as examples of a modern craft-based “building art” (Baukunst) that the architect hoped would replace the pomp of “style architecture” (Stilarchitektur).50 Muthesius believed that in order to develop a truly social architecture, architects needed to abandon their academic pretensions and assume the humbler role of the traditional “building artist” capable of strengthening individuals’ emotional bonds with their locales, effectively turning the urban masses into cultivated members of middle-class society.51

Following the success of Muthesius’s country houses, critics such as Paul Westheim began to identify a new vital tradition in brick construction that called for a reassessment of the material’s value:

The aversion to brick is due to the sins of the so-called “neo-Gothic school.” These people believed that brick could only be fabricated for Gothic construction. Factories, barracks, schools, apartment housing all obtained a Gothic physiognomy, and a flimsy, schematic, and stagnant Gothic at that, which they had learned from their little pattern books. This bias was accepted as fate, and in the 90s, anyone would have laughed at those who dared to rebel. . . . We observed—unjustly—the evil in the material rather than in the incompetent builders who did not know how to use it. . . . Through bad hands it fell into disrepute, but it would be foolish to dismiss it as an “inferior material” because of that.52

For Westheim, the brick building was an “educator in sachlich honesty.” Even if a window or door was framed with natural stone or stucco ornament, the honesty of the brick wall necessarily placated “the ornamental orgies from which we suffer so much.”53 Westheim ridiculed the idea, prevalent in academic architectural circles, of an assumed hierarchy of materials based on their “naturalness,” arguing that any material could be appropriate and equal if it reflected its locale. “Is the brick, which has been fired and employed by builders for centuries,” Westheim implored, “not an artificial stone? And who would find the courage to object aesthetically to the brick buildings of the English, the Dutch, or the German northern and Baltic plains?”54 For him, the real mark of building quality was left not by the hand that copied from stylistic patterns books but by the hand that was adept at imbuing the material in question with life—a process just as mysterious as the one that “made Adam out of the lump of clay.”55

Westheim wrote frequently to promote those architects who, alongside Muthesius, had broken the tethers of academicism to become genuine artists. In Berlin, Heinrich Straumer’s brick parish house (1909–10) absorbed Muthesius’s lessons and radiated the charm of the English country house. The design of the parish house spoke of an architect who knew how to adapt to the church village milieu “with artistic tact.”56 Outside Berlin, Ferdinand Eichwede’s Kok House (1909) in the northern German island of Borkum and architects Freitag & Elingius’s Meyer Country House (1910) near Hamburg were equally praised for their down-to-earth quality.57

The critic Walter Curt Behrendt became another key proponent of brick as a modern material par excellence, and he encouraged architects to realize its innate expressive possibilities.58 He admired early experimental works such as architect Emil Schaudt’s urban apartment at Südwestkorso 74 (1907–8) in the suburban district of Friedenau in Berlin. The building had previously been criticized in the trade magazine Keramische Monatshefte because Schaudt used normal brick units to animate the façade rather than the premolded terracotta that the ceramics industry developed explicitly for decorative purposes. Behrendt censured the industry’s desire to stifle creative expression, praising in particular the lively color effects produced by the alternations of red Rathenow bricks and gray clinkers on the pilasters.59

Behrendt also brought attention to an apartment complex executed in 1907 by architect Max Bischoff, which featured a brick front that appeared as an unusually restrained addition to the pompous upper-class street of Kurfürstendamm. It was significant for being the first residential building in Berlin to skillfully employ the Dutch-English method of chiseling brick to form figurative reliefs.60 Whimsical human figures are carved into the entry pillars, while floral motifs, as well as animals and mysterious faces, appear in single blocks on the bordering brick walls (Figures 9 and 10). Where the English method produced thinner joints, the mortar in these reliefs is clearly visible, creating the impression that the figures are literally stuck in the wall. While the effect was coarse, critics praised the reliefs’ attractiveness, with one writer lamenting that the “street kids have already started to exercise their destructiveness on these little masterpieces, which are so conveniently at hand.”61

Figure 9

Max Bischoff, Kurfürstendamm 110 apartment, Berlin, 1907, pillar figures (Architektonische Rundschau 24, no. 2 [1908], 16; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 9

Max Bischoff, Kurfürstendamm 110 apartment, Berlin, 1907, pillar figures (Architektonische Rundschau 24, no. 2 [1908], 16; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal
Figure 10

Max Bischoff, Kurfürstendamm 110 apartment, Berlin, 1907, wall figures (Otto Stiehl, “Neues vom Backsteinbau,” Berliner Architekturwelt 10, no. 2 [1908], 63; courtesy Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin).

Figure 10

Max Bischoff, Kurfürstendamm 110 apartment, Berlin, 1907, wall figures (Otto Stiehl, “Neues vom Backsteinbau,” Berliner Architekturwelt 10, no. 2 [1908], 63; courtesy Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin).

Close modal

The boldest experiments in residential brick construction were carried out by the architects Carl James Bühring and Paul Mebes. In 1906, Bühring became municipal architect of the model community of Weissensee, located just outside Berlin, where he was given free rein to experiment with the brick façade at the scale of the street. His residential quarters for Weissensee’s officials used bricks prominently for various entry portals, each unique in its architectural features and patterning. These quarters were part of a larger civic hub that coalesced on Pistoriustrasse and included a school, gymnasium, festival hall, and municipal administrative complex, all designed by Bühring. While juxtaposed eclectically with various plaster and stone surfaces, vibrant hues of red Rathenau brick ran throughout the street to create its picturesque effect, reminding one critic of the “charming townscape of Lüneburg.”62

The Prussian government architect Mebes became the best-known designer working in a modern brick idiom in Berlin. Mebes’s reputation was based on his sophisticated readaptations of the Biedermeier house type. His popular two-volume photographic treatise Um 1800 (Around 1800) (1908) examined the architecture of Schinkel’s era, which he considered to be a launching point for developing a modern middle-class sensibility in residential construction. Unlike Schultze-Naumburg’s Kulturarbeiten, Um 1800 presented a more balanced and heterogeneous image of the era, placing less emphasis on a hierarchy of cladding materials and more emphasis on the importance of the craftsman’s connectedness to tradition.63 While the preface to Um 1800 contained familiar platitudes about the importance of Heimat, Mebes’s selection of photographs painted a more complex portrait of the cultural cross-fertilization across the Netherlands and the Baltic region that shaped northern Germany’s building traditions. Significantly, it showed brick to be just as much a part of the Biedermeier tradition as white plaster. Within the space of a few years, Mebes constructed a string of regionally inspired but unmistakably genteel brick houses in the new suburban district of Zehlendorf in Berlin.64 Shedding all remaining elements of ostentation from their façades in the cause of middle-class comfort, Mebes’s Zehlendorf houses, in Behrendt’s appraisal, more closely embodied the “coarse ways of the provincial master mason” than the “refined jauntiness and groomed noblesse that was characteristic of the gentleman architect of the late eighteenth century.”65

Mebes’s skills in brick architecture matured through his work for the Berlin Civil Servants’ Housing Association (Beamten-Wohnungsverein zu Berlin), a nonprofit organization that built small and medium-size houses for lower-paid civil servants. His most notable project for the association was a housing complex in Steglitz, Berlin (1907–8). Composed of two residential blocks rhythmically intertwined to frame an interior residential street, its stark and monumental use of red Rathenow brick throughout evinced a more modern sensibility than Bühring’s somewhat nostalgic streetscape (Figure 11). The complex also displayed a maturation of the ornamental brick-cutting method tested in the houses of Muthesius and Bischoff, with vibrant floral and animal motifs (executed by the workshop of Schmarje) framing the windows, pillars, lunettes, and gable ends (Figure 12).66 By this time, Schmarje was sought after for his ability to work closely with architects to integrate decorative form purposefully into the architectural logic of a building exterior, in effect creating, in the words of one critic, a Gesamtkunstwerk.67 Indeed, the noble simplicity and integrated decoration of the exterior of the Steglitz complex strongly recalls the unity of bürgerlich art ca. 1800, successfully reinvented for the new metropolis. Working within the bounds of decorative restraint necessitated by the brick medium, Schmarje and Mebes’s collaboration successfully reimagined how the brick building could be elevated to the status of a Gesamtkunstwerk—one that captured the middle-class aspirations that lay at the core of urban society.

Figure 11

Paul Mebes, Steglitz II housing complex, Steglitz, Berlin, 1907–8, block interior (Hermann Jansen, “Neubauten des Beamten-Wohnungs-Vereins zu Berlin,” Der Baumeister 7, no. 5 [Feb. 1909], 50; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 11

Paul Mebes, Steglitz II housing complex, Steglitz, Berlin, 1907–8, block interior (Hermann Jansen, “Neubauten des Beamten-Wohnungs-Vereins zu Berlin,” Der Baumeister 7, no. 5 [Feb. 1909], 50; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal
Figure 12

Paul Mebes, Steglitz II housing complex, Steglitz, Berlin, 1907–8, sculptural detail (Hermann Jansen, “Neubauten des Beamten-Wohnungs-Vereins zu Berlin,” Der Baumeister 7, no. 5 [Feb. 1909], 55; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 12

Paul Mebes, Steglitz II housing complex, Steglitz, Berlin, 1907–8, sculptural detail (Hermann Jansen, “Neubauten des Beamten-Wohnungs-Vereins zu Berlin,” Der Baumeister 7, no. 5 [Feb. 1909], 55; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal

Despite the success of some municipal architects in the realm of housing, the use of brick for Berlin’s public architecture in general proved more fraught because of the material’s association with the legacy of Blankenstein. When the Darmstadt-born architect Ludwig Hoffmann replaced Blankenstein as chief city architect in 1896, rumors began to circulate via the press that Hoffmann planned to abandon brick facing completely and had ordered an official to travel south to study the durability of plaster façades in Bavaria.68 The rumors provoked anger from ardent supporters of the facing brick industry (which had largely built itself around public-sector commissions), causing Hoffmann to declare that he would not advocate for any single branch of industry but would be guided by artistic considerations when selecting façade materials.69 While Hoffmann employed brick less than his predecessor, his handling of the material evinced a new civic orientation that successfully aligned the municipality’s characteristic thriftiness with the aesthetic and moral doctrine of Sachlichkeit, with the architect admitting that natural stone had for too long received an “exaggerated estimation as the so-called ‘proper’ material.”70

Hoffmann’s early works in brick included the Märkisches Museum (1899–1908), which was built to house the city’s expanding collection of artifacts documenting the natural and cultural history of Berlin and its wider region of Brandenburg. Compared to Germany’s alpine region or scenic Rhine province, Brandenburg was not known for its natural beauty. It was not until the publication of Theodor Fontane’s travelogue Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (Excursions through Mark Brandenburg) (1862–89), which included lyrical descriptions of the region’s brick churches, that Brandenburg was recognized as a potential source of civic pride. Inspired by Fontane, many local patriots began encouraging a largely migrant-based Berlin population to travel out to the countryside on weekends and to recognize Brandenburg as their Heimat.71 Upon his relocation to Berlin, Hoffmann immediately sought creative stimulus through extended trips through Brandenburg; he later reminisced in his autobiography about falling asleep each night with a copy of Fontane’s Wanderungen in hand. With its elaborate spires, the Märkisches Museum was unabashedly historicist in its conspicuous references to the Brandenburg brick Gothic style. But the museum is unique in that its historicist artifice is entirely appropriate for its purpose, with its Gothic markers referring not to distant medieval ideals but rather to the practice of modern civics.

Hoffmann’s work in brick found a freer expression in public elementary school façades, for which he shunned smooth facings in favor of rougher Rathenow hand-cut bricks.72 For his school on Pankstrasse (1905–6) in the district of Wedding, Hoffmann eschewed both the whimsy of the Brandenburg Gothic style and the barracks-like strictness of Blankenstein’s Renaissance style. The façade exudes a calmness in its massing and earnestness in its use of hand-cut brick, the austerity of which is offset by the free but restrained placement of terracotta reliefs around entryways, where their subject matter is easily viewable. The lively premolded reliefs by artist Georg Wrba depict plants, animals, and fantastical creatures, as well as scenes of boys and girls learning, playing, and interacting with bears. These images served to surprise and delight the school’s young audience. Hoffmann was skilled at promoting his public service activities in the realm of education through the publication of high-quality folios, for which he made use of new collotype processes to reproduce striking photographs of school building façades. In the photographs of the school on Pankstrasse that were published in folios and the architectural press, viewers are invited to see through a child’s eyes and observe the richness of the façade details (Figure 13). The articulated brick-and-mortar walls appear as a coarse meshwork of carpet from which the lively sculptural work springs.

Figure 13

Ludwig Hoffmann, school on Pankstrasse, Berlin, 1905–6, ornamental detail around entry (Architektonische Rundschau 27, no. 3 [1911], plate 22; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 13

Ludwig Hoffmann, school on Pankstrasse, Berlin, 1905–6, ornamental detail around entry (Architektonische Rundschau 27, no. 3 [1911], plate 22; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal

In its self-conscious modesty, the architecture of the Pankstrasse school resonated with the social purpose of the modern public school. Prussia had long boasted an advanced public school system and was the first state to institute compulsory schooling.73 From the 1890s onward, cultural education in public schools became geared toward cultivating, above all else, a sense of love for one’s Heimat. Unlike elite private schools, which emphasized scholarly pretense, public schools sought to instill a sense of civic duty among pupils by introducing local folklore into literary textbooks. These textbooks came to be filled with poems and stories designed to foster among the children of the working class such virtues as “politeness, modesty, honesty, loyalty, love of neighbors, friendliness, and community spirit.”74 In the Pankstrasse school, Hoffmann and Wrba’s playful iconographic program, set against a northern German idiom of brick, functioned in much the same way as these literary textbooks.

Hoffmann’s fire stations likewise exuded the warmth of community virtue. His station on Schönlankerstrasse (1906–8) was also clad in hand-cut brick and dispensed with prominent Renaissance cornices in favor of more locally inflected hipped roofs and large overhanging eaves. Rather than cramming ornamental features into the entablature, Hoffmann scattered Wrba’s sculptural reliefs freely across the brick surface. In one of the more prominent terracotta reliefs, which was featured on the cover of a 1908 volume of Der Baumeister, two putti pour jugs of water over burning houses, an image that serves as an amusing reminder of the building’s mission to ensure the welfare of urban citizens (Figure 14). The Schönlankerstrasse fire station received much praise from modern architects, including Hermann Jansen and Hermann Muthesius, the latter citing the building as representative of the maturation of a modern brick idiom in the Berlin cityscape.75 Architect Paul Ochs, an advocate for the clay industry and an outspoken critic of Schultze-Naumburg’s romanticization of the Biedermeier past, applauded Hoffmann’s method of softening the natural seriousness of brick massing while avoiding “medieval reminiscences.”76

Figure 14

Ludwig Hoffmann, fire station on Schönlankerstrasse, Berlin, 1906–8, ornamental detail (Otto Stiehl, “Einzelheiten von Backsteinbau,” Architektonische Rundschau 27, no. 3 [1911], 29; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 14

Ludwig Hoffmann, fire station on Schönlankerstrasse, Berlin, 1906–8, ornamental detail (Otto Stiehl, “Einzelheiten von Backsteinbau,” Architektonische Rundschau 27, no. 3 [1911], 29; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal

While Berlin’s municipal building program led by Hoffmann never aligned itself with a particular façade material, bricks would play a more intimate role in shaping civic culture in Hamburg through the work of the city’s chief architect and Deutscher Werkbund cofounder Fritz Schumacher (1869–1947). Like Hoffmann, Schumacher was admired for his capacity to capture the modern welfare spirit subtly in his works. Fritz Stahl described him as one of the few architects besides Hoffmann to realize a genuine “building art.”77

Schumacher came from a cosmopolitan background. His childhood was split among Bremen, Bogotá, and New York, and he undertook his architectural studies in Berlin and Munich. He subsequently taught at the Technical University of Dresden, where he no doubt would have become deeply acquainted with the activities of the Heimatschützlers. He assumed the post of Hamburg’s chief city architect in 1909.78 As the second most populous and industrialized city in northern Germany, Hamburg, like Berlin, experienced a sense of cultural anxiety over defining its peculiar localism in the face of the increasing nationwide influence of the Heimatschutz movement. Little of the built fabric of old Hanseatic Hamburg survived into the nineteenth century, although local historians emphasized that a strong tradition of redbrick construction long existed in the city.79 Efforts to revive brick in Hamburg were therefore based on a looser notion of Heimat identity that incorporated the geographical reach of the Hanseatic cities. Lübeck and Lüneberg offered well-preserved examples of bürgerlich brick architecture from which Hamburg architects could take inspiration. Schumacher was by no means an advocate for Heimatschutz. He frequently accused the movement of being too emotional and romantic, and he remained suspicious of expressions like “down-to-earthness,” which he viewed as empty catchphrases.80 He nonetheless wrote admiringly on the dignified craftmanship inherent in traditional northern German brick construction, which he wished to revive in Hamburg.

While abandoning historicism and embracing a more abstract, expressionist architectural language, Schumacher self-consciously worked organically from within this regional tradition. From 1911 through 1915 he completed five public schools, all in brick, thereby cementing his reputation in the city. While Hamburg was slower than Prussia to initiate large-scale curriculum reform in the school system, by the time Schumacher took up his post as city architect, the study of Heimat had become an entrenched part of the public school curriculum.81 If Hamburg’s pedagogues quickly came to understand the importance of standardizing curriculum, so too did Schumacher go to great lengths to argue for the importance of standardizing the public school building. In a chapter on elementary schools in the 1914 compendium Hamburg and Its Buildings, he defined the new public school type: a large building with two wings, one for boys’ classes and one for girls’ classes, joined by a central gymnasium.82

In focusing his attention on the functional logic of the interior layout, Schumacher kept his school façades simple but welcoming. These façades were particularly innovative for their use of clinker bricks. For Schumacher, clinkers captured the properties most intrinsic to the craftsmanship of brickmaking and thus bore a unique formal quality that came from “within.” They were “unintentional” (absichtslos)—that is, unaffected by the sentimentalities and historical pretenses that broadly characterized the Heimatschutz movement. They bore the firing process on their surfaces and thus contained something of the “stimulus of cosmic emergence.”83 Schumacher’s school on Lutterothstrasse (1911–12) is a lively meshwork, with vertical pillars tonally alternating between red hand-cut bricks and dark clinker bricks (Figure 15). The accompanying sculptural work is similarly mature, with ceramic plates depicting plants and humorous animals located at the building’s entry. Schumacher’s Tieloh public school (1912–14) advanced an even bolder decorative program, featuring glazed polychromatic clinker sculptures of figures from German folktales, including a witch, the Pied Piper, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Rübezahl (a mountain spirit), resting beneath the cornices (Figure 16). While these figures, sculpted by Richard Kuöhl, appear more oppressive than uplifting, they nonetheless provided markers of emotional attachment to Heimat, inspiring children’s imaginations without being overly sentimental. Like the school curriculum that became more standardized precisely through the prescribed study of local particularity, the public school building in the hands of Schumacher experienced a standardization of type in its floor plan while its façade treatments remained comfortably legible in the Hamburg cityscape.

Figure 15

Fritz Schumacher, school on Lutterothstrasse, Hamburg, 1911–12 (photo by Minderbinder, Wikimedia Commons).

Figure 15

Fritz Schumacher, school on Lutterothstrasse, Hamburg, 1911–12 (photo by Minderbinder, Wikimedia Commons).

Close modal
Figure 16

Fritz Schumacher, school on Tieloh, Hamburg, 1912–14, view of sculptures by Richard Kuöhl depicting characters from folktales (photos by Ajepbah, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA-3.0 DE).

Figure 16

Fritz Schumacher, school on Tieloh, Hamburg, 1912–14, view of sculptures by Richard Kuöhl depicting characters from folktales (photos by Ajepbah, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA-3.0 DE).

Close modal

Schumacher applied his experiences in public school design to the architecture of the public bath. He saw both schools and baths as playing a cultural role similar to that of theaters, museums, and libraries in the new metropolis.84 Indeed, as a result of the growth of the life reform and “body culture” movements in late nineteenth-century Germany, the ideal of self-cultivation (Bildung) had increasingly been transferred from sites of pure learning like the cloister and the university to new sites for the cultivation of both mind and body. In a 1904 tract on city planning, Schumacher went so far as to suggest that the future of urban architecture rested on the formation of an “inseparable triple alliance” among intellectual, physical, and aesthetic culture.85 His vision reflected a more widespread shift in popular understanding about public health, whereby both school gymnasiums and public baths came to be seen less as places of militant discipline and physical hardening and more as places of enjoyment, physical well-being, and spiritual uplift.86 In his Eppendorf public bath (1913–14), he again utilized a lively pattern, with pilasters alternating between rough red brick and black-blue clinkers (Figure 17). Like the public school, the bath required the strict separation of genders, and its façade reflects this in its incorporation of three entrances: a middle door leading to a registry office and library flanked by respective doors to the women’s and men’s pools. The terracotta reliefs above the pool entrances feature mermen, while the relief above the central entrance features three putti leaning in to read a book. The combination of library, registry office, and pool into one community building was certainly peculiar, but it nonetheless resonated with Schumacher’s ideal of a triple alliance among mind, body, and art.

Figure 17

Fritz Schumacher, public bath, Eppendorf, Hamburg, 1913–14, façade detail (author’s photo).

Figure 17

Fritz Schumacher, public bath, Eppendorf, Hamburg, 1913–14, façade detail (author’s photo).

Close modal

Along with designing schools and baths, Schumacher made his career as a builder of community life through the design of police stations. His Spielbudenplatz police station (1913–14) is a work of pure craftsmanship, representing a maturation of the brick expressionist sensibility in its lively rhythmic interplay of brown bricks and dark polychromatic clinker (Figure 18). Interspersed ceramic sculptural work by Kuöhl lends further gravitas to the façade. Schumacher’s sensitivity to dynamic massing and expressive articulation of brick establishes emotional connections to local craft and evades the militant strictness so typical of the police station type. The Spielbudenplatz station represented the pinnacle of what the notable ceramicist Jakob Julius Scharvogel described as a healthy revitalization of brick building, allowing the material to atone for the sins of the recent past, for which it was “only indirectly to blame.”87

Figure 18

Fritz Schumacher, police station on Spielbudenplatz, Hamburg, 1913–14 (author’s photo).

Figure 18

Fritz Schumacher, police station on Spielbudenplatz, Hamburg, 1913–14 (author’s photo).

Close modal

Hoffmann’s and Schumacher’s mature buildings in brick gave architects in Berlin and Hamburg newfound confidence in tackling more difficult artistic problems posed by accelerated international commerce and trade. Large-scale building types like offices and department stores were rapidly transforming the physiology of cities across the globe, accommodating complex systems of operation for which there were no easy artistic solutions.

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, commercial enterprises were typically housed in eclectic and pompous buildings. In Berlin, Alfred Messel’s famous Wertheim department store (1904) in natural stone was significant for introducing a more restrained language into the city’s business district. From 1911, Berlin experienced an upswing in ceramic ornamentation in commercial building that helped connect the city with its local heritage. Architect Eugen Schmohl’s Wertheim store (1913) on Moritzplatz cited the strong verticality of Messel’s store through its use of soaring pillars but substituted smooth brickwork for Messel’s stone. Ornate sculptural reliefs of human figures, executed by artist Adolf Amberg in Karlsruhe majolica, were nestled in the horizontal window friezes.88 The office building on Linkstrasse (1911) renovated by the architects Bruno Taut and Franz Hoffmann (of the firm Taut & Hoffmann) presented an austere façade of Dutch red brick, recalling Schinkel’s Feilner House. But in contrast to Schinkel’s design, which included multiple reliefs in the window friezes, Taut and Hoffmann’s building featured a single red terracotta decorative relief by sculptor Ulrich Nietschke. This relief, depicting “real estate activity,” freely occupied the center of the façade.89 While displaying diverging artistic directions, these buildings together represented what Paul Westheim described as a veritable ceramics revival in Berlin’s new commercial district.90

The story of brick’s resurgence in commercial architecture, however, is one firmly situated in Hamburg. As a harbor of international trade, Hamburg was at the center of debates over the problem of the modern business building. Unlike Berlin (which had long functioned as the royal seat of the Hohenzollern dynasty), Hamburg had a heritage that was intimately tied to the freedom and strength of the merchant classes from the time the city became a member of the Hanseatic League in the thirteenth century. For promoters of Heimat, the problem of the modern business building offered an opportunity to rediscover the brick architecture of medieval Hamburg and establish meaningful terms of artistic continuity between that tradition and the needs of the present.

For centuries, business matters in Hamburg were conducted in merchants’ houses. Located near the port, these buildings served multiple functions as warehouses, sales rooms, offices, and apartment dwellings.91 This situation disappeared following an 1842 fire and an 1892 pandemic, which together resulted in the razing of the old quarters (Altstadt) and instigated widespread slum clearance. Banned from living near the port, the business elite moved out to the suburban fringe, and the city began major redevelopments in the old quarters to create a pure central business district.

From the 1880s onward in the old quarters, new business buildings began to appear that featured large central courtyards, American-style elevators, open floor plans, and flexible partition walls to cater to different tenant needs, with only the toilets (at first just men’s but later increasingly women’s also) being fixed within a central hall. In the rest of Germany, this new type of building was frequently called a commercial house (Geschäftshaus) or office (Bürohaus). In Hamburg, it was called a kontor house (Kontorhaus or Kontorhof). During the Middle Ages, kontors or “countinghouses” were international outposts that provided lodgings, office space, and storage space for Hanseatic merchants.92 Hamburg’s merchants frequently called the business premises in their houses the kontor.93 Much like their office building counterparts in Chicago, Hamburg’s first modern kontor houses were glamorous and eclectic buildings clad in expensive materials such as marble and limestone.

The growing influence of the Heimatschutz movement, however, provoked a strong desire for reform in the façade treatment of the modern kontor house. Journalist and local patriot Paul Bröcker was the lead representative of the Bund Heimatschutz in Hamburg and pushed for more building legislation to preserve the traditional character of the inner city.94 His advocacy of brick also made him a polemicist within the ranks of the Bund, and he bemoaned the damaging effect of Schultze-Naumburg’s writings on the cultural recognition of Hamburg’s brick building tradition. Bröcker wrote extensively on the need to rid the movement of its romanticizing inclinations and bring tradition into productive connection with the economic desires of the enterprising classes (it was the merchants, after all, who shaped the past architectural glory of the Hanseatic cities).95 In 1908, he published the sensationalist pamphlet Hamburg in Distress! An Urgent Cry for Help and a Proposal to Rescue Our Hometown Building Culture, which warned against the loss of community will and local spirit that would result from the proliferation of the bejeweled but soulless new kontor houses. He was prompted to write the pamphlet by the recent paving of Mönckebergstrasse, a major arterial road. Connecting the town hall and St. Peter’s Church with Hamburg’s central railway station, the road was set to become the commercial heart of the redeveloped old quarters. The new road presented a metaphorical fork: Would its architectural character be “left to chance and unbridled competition,” or could a collective spirit of municipal intervention be roused to form a cohesive cityscape that would establish meaningful connections with old Hamburg?96

Bröcker’s pamphleteering was accompanied by a massive campaign to rediscover Hamburg’s urban past. In these efforts, he was certainly not alone. The movement to revive local culture in the early twentieth century was not limited to public school curriculum but penetrated the sphere of adult education as well. This movement was, for the most part, more literary and didactic than scholarly or rigorously historical. It saw local enthusiasts rushing to photograph the façades of buildings in Hamburg’s old quarters that were set for demolition.97 It also saw the emergence of a popular art genre that documented the character of the surviving central halls (Dielen) of the old merchant houses. These artworks were unabashedly sentimental in their depictions of the merchants’ messy yet cheerful business quarters. They followed a formula, typically showing stately stairs leading up to the living quarters, evoking the comforts of quiet family life; stacked shipping chests full of luxury goods hinted at the exciting world of international adventure beyond the home. In the same vein, Bröcker campaigned tirelessly for the cultural recognition and protection of the merchant house through research on the technical-artistic evolution of its stepped-gable exterior.98 His promotional efforts initiated a vogue for brick architecture in Hamburg similar to the Biedermeier craze (leading the more pragmatic Schumacher to disparage it as the “literary brick movement”).99

Bröcker’s research culminated in The Architecture of the Hamburg Commercial House (1910), which he coauthored with architect Fritz Höger (1877–1949). The book sought to define the ideal kontor house type by tracing its progressive evolution from the thirteenth-century timber-framed merchant house. The authors described the ebb and flow of the Hamburg merchants’ economic strength across five epochs, as they attempted to excise themselves from the influence of foreign court culture and revise and refine their own bürgerlich Gothic style.100 With its stepped-gable roof and vertical pilaster strips, the merchant house remained Gothic in spirit even as it absorbed motifs from the Renaissance, baroque, and rococo periods. The most polemical part of the book described the momentous shift to iron construction in the nineteenth century.101 Against the established narrative that the modern kontor house represented an entirely novel condition that demanded new forms of exterior representation, Bröcker and Höger emphasized that the iron skeleton represented a continuation of Hamburg’s Gothic tradition. Inclined toward a racialist and chauvinistic interpretation of Theodor Lipps’s aesthetic theories, the authors also argued for the maintenance of the redbrick veneer as a mark of distinction that could complement the universalist constructive essence of the iron skeleton. They asserted that just as skin color was able to distinguish human tribes, so too could a building’s façade communicate its cultural distinctiveness.102 In the ideal modern kontor house of the future, the iron skeleton would assert the building’s “global citizenship,” while the brick cladding would ground the building in its northern Germanic context.103 In Bröcker’s words, the modern kontor house should be “international and local at the same time!—local but not petit-bourgeois—international but not without fatherland!”104

Subtitled A Timely Word for the Formation of Mönckebergstrasse, Bröcker and Höger’s book was unabashedly strategic in situating Höger’s designs for office buildings within a progressive narrative about the new epoch that was about to materialize in Hamburg’s business district. Coming from a humble craft background, the autodidact architect was favorably assessed by architectural critics as possessing a naivete in his approach to building. According to the critic and architect Werner Jakstein, Höger was sympathetic to the ideals of the Heimatschutz movement but was not “content with the established form in which it was laid down to him”; this led him to seek out Bröcker as his muse so that he could reconcile his natural love of Heimat with the demands of his age.105 Höger achieved rapid success in the sphere of commercial design, executing five kontor houses within a span of five years, beginning with Niemannhaus (1909), Haus Glas (1910–11), and Klostertorhof (1910–11), followed by two houses on Mönckebergstrasse, the ornate baroque Rappolthaus (1911–12) and the more restrained classical Klöpperhaus (1912–13) (Figures 19 and 20). With each house, Höger rationalized the floor plan for greatest possible utility while leaving the veneer for more creative experimentation in brick size, color, and textural variation, taking particular care to revive the burnt, corrugated look of old brick construction.106

Figure 19

Fritz Höger, Rappolthaus, Hamburg, 1911–12 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, 1.120.007).

Figure 19

Fritz Höger, Rappolthaus, Hamburg, 1911–12 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, 1.120.007).

Close modal
Figure 20

Fritz Höger, Klöpperhaus, Hamburg, 1912–13 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, 1.120.000).

Figure 20

Fritz Höger, Klöpperhaus, Hamburg, 1912–13 (© Bildarchiv Foto Marburg, 1.120.000).

Close modal

Höger was certainly not alone in reinvigorating the use of brick in Hamburg’s business district: architects Leon Freitag, Hermann Wuzbach, and Erich Elingius worked skillfully with clay, gaining fame for their use of iridescent grés flamme tiling (imported from Belgium and Silesia) as a principal facing material. For Höger’s keenest promoters, however, the most innovative aspect of the architect’s body of work was that it was conceived as part of a wider theoretical project that sought to understand the central business district, where traffic of the international economy concentrated, as a singular artistic problem, as a kind of urban Gesamtkunstwerk. Accompanying Bröcker and Höger’s observations in The Architecture of the Hamburg Commercial House were illustrations by architect Ferdinand Sckopp, who placed Höger’s commercial façades within an imagined urban ensemble of the future business district (Figure 21). In these sketches, Höger’s use of more eclectic motifs recedes into the background against an overriding sense of verticality that unites the cityscape. Undulating concave and convex masses of pillaring and brick meshwork give rhythm and regularity to the streetscape.

Figure 21

Ferdinand Sckopp, speculative drawing of Mönckebergstrasse, 1910 (Paul Bröcker and Fritz Höger, Die Architektur des hamburgischen Geschäftshauses: Ein zeitgemäßes Wort für die Ausbildung der Mönckebergstraße [Hamburg: Boysen & Maasch, 1910], 63).

Figure 21

Ferdinand Sckopp, speculative drawing of Mönckebergstrasse, 1910 (Paul Bröcker and Fritz Höger, Die Architektur des hamburgischen Geschäftshauses: Ein zeitgemäßes Wort für die Ausbildung der Mönckebergstraße [Hamburg: Boysen & Maasch, 1910], 63).

Close modal

Through Höger and Sckopp’s collaboration, the past glory of Hamburg entered into dialogue with speculative imaginings of the future of the business district. Their sketches recall Berlin architect Emil Schaudt’s similarly romantic proposal, which imagines Mönckebergstrasse through a picturesque lens, no doubt informed by the influential ideas of Camillo Sitte (Figure 22).107 St. Peter’s Church towers over the scene, but the street offers no direct vista that frames it as a centerpiece. Rather, the uniform kontor houses in warm tones of red brick create intriguing twists and turns leading to the church, giving the street an unpretentious but cozy interior-like quality. Where the central hall of the traditional merchant house once functioned as the gathering point of the life of the merchant, Schaudt likewise imagines the central business district as a concentration of economic forces that can be artfully framed as an interior space. For architect Walther Puritz, Schaudt’s proposals successfully captured the spirit of the Hamburg merchant, who is “unpretentious and true in his business life and simple in his lifestyle” and “puts modest demands on the external representation of his business premises.”108

Figure 22

Emil Schaudt, proposal for the development of Mönckebergstrasse, 1910 (Walther Puritz, “Neue Hamburger Bauten,” Moderne Bauformen 9, no. 6 [1910], 38; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Figure 22

Emil Schaudt, proposal for the development of Mönckebergstrasse, 1910 (Walther Puritz, “Neue Hamburger Bauten,” Moderne Bauformen 9, no. 6 [1910], 38; courtesy Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg).

Close modal

With their visualizations of the modern commercial cityscape as an urban Gesamtkunstwerk, Sckopp, Höger, and Schaudt provoked strong debate over the merits of picturesque variety versus rigorous uniformity in city planning. While Westheim described Höger and Schaudt as initiating a “new Renaissance” in beautiful brick architecture, other critics continued voicing suspicions about the nostalgia that underpinned efforts to establish a new localism in Hamburg’s business district.109 In an essay in Kunstgewerbeblatt, artist Herbert Mhe reproached efforts to provincialize Mönckebergstrasse, arguing that “city architecture that seeks the picturesque, the local, the Low German, is complete madness.”110 Aligning himself strongly with the contemporaneous urban theories of Karl Scheffler and Behrendt, Mhe believed that the fate of modern metropolitan architecture lay in the organization of all socioeconomic activity into standardized building types, the transpersonal nature of which demanded a moral commitment to aesthetic uniformity and a certain “bareness” of external form.111 As urban activities became increasingly consolidated into specialized districts, including the “factory district, warehouse and department store district,” and the “kontor house center,” each district was, in Mhe’s view, fated to grow into a complex object of “technical and architectonic-artistic perfection.”112 As a singular architectural concept, Mhe argued, the commercial district should exchange picturesque motifs for uniform façades containing “a certain ‘barbarity,’ that is, something that approximates an unaesthetic monumentality.”113 While Mhe dismissed Höger’s eclectic Rappolthaus as a “building now frightened of itself because of its baroque circumlocutions,” he praised the clarity and maturity of the more uniform and restrained Klöpperhaus as proof that “Mr. Höger is correcting himself.”114

Höger’s work achieved greatest maturity after World War I through his expressionist clinker brick Chilehaus (1921–24). Sitting at a road junction and framed on either side by Hans and Oskar Gerson’s Messberghof (1922–24) and Sprinkenhof (1927–43), the Chilehaus became the centerpiece of a new office quarter (planned by Schumacher), just down from Mönckebergstrasse, that realized Bröcker’s initial vision for a cohesive brick cityscape. While the Chilehaus abandons any historicist conceit or yearnings for Heimat, by this stage, the very material presence of the clinker brick communicated something deeply patriotic for Höger. Even if brick was not unique to Germany, in the architect’s words it could “still be called German, just like the German oak tree, because the German mind pulsates through it. What in other places is only purpose-built brick shell is with us a soulful experience as well.”115

Höger’s patriotic reading was made possible through prewar debates about the value of brick, which explored new ways to confront the dilemma of modern society between the opposing forces of global universality and local specificity. A central instigator of architectural reform in this era was Paul Schultze-Naumburg. While his Kulturarbeiten disparaged the blandness of late nineteenth-century brick architecture and prompted the extensive whitewashing of Germany’s built heritage, it also provided the impetus necessary for the material’s reform. When brick enthusiasts criticized Schultze-Naumburg, they largely did so on his terms: namely, by celebrating material thrift as a middle-class virtue as well as by investing in the power of façade materials to elicit emotional, even tribalistic, responses. Antiromantic in principle, promoters of brick nonetheless savored the ideal of the self-sufficient community from which “down-to-earth” types emerged in the language of burnt clay, fostering an ethic of making do with local materials and existing industries.

This sense of German identity was intimately tied to a belief in the inevitable progress of the nation’s middle classes. In 1870, one critic writing for the Deutsche Bauzeitung voiced a largely commonplace view that brick was ultimately a surrogate and did not possess enough peculiarity to develop its own artistic laws.116 This view hardly changed by 1914. The notion of architectural propriety simply shifted from configuring a hierarchy of materials ordained by nature to maintaining the cultural authenticity of the society that cultivated them. Modern architecture was middle-class architecture, and middle-class architecture traded in the language of provisional solutions and surrogates.

While the renewal of brick in the sphere of domestic architecture was initially a self-consciously modest project, it soon fueled broader debates about the role of community in the modern city, particularly in the domain of large public works. While the eclectic Hoffmann stood apart from the expressionist Schumacher in stylistic terms, the activities of both architects in the realm of public welfare helped cultivate a shared debate among Berliners and Hamburgers about how northern German cities could integrate a sensible localism into their cityscapes while navigating between the Scylla of romantic historicism and the Charybdis of artless economizing. What made their brick buildings both traditional and modern was their ability to cite the local urban idiom but update the message, exchanging the religious images that upheld Tönnies’s classic definition of community for images that reflected the citizenry back on itself.

If public welfare was one side of the community coin, private initiative was the other. New business buildings soon assumed the responsibility of articulating a sense of propriety within the cityscape. Simultaneously Hamburg-ish and global, the lessons of Hamburg’s business district offered the city’s historians, architects, and critics a way out of the hopeless sense of nostalgia and parochialism that pervaded many of the activities of the Heimatschutz movement. Contrary to classic Heimatschutz doctrine, peasants and small-town artisans and burghers were not the only bearers of national culture. Hamburg’s merchants as well were German, and they had a history and heritage worth protecting.


I wish to thank the anonymous reviewers of JSAH for their expertise and insightful comments on this article. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.


While countless studies have been devoted to German modernism, few have discussed the cultural politics surrounding cladding materials and façade design. See Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani and Romana Schneider, Moderne Architektur in Deutschland 1900 bis 1950: Reform und Tradition (Stuttgart: G. Hatje, 1992); Mitchell Schwarzer, German Architectural Theory and the Search for Modern Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Mark Wigley, White Walls, Designer Dresses: The Fashioning of Modern Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995); Barbara Miller Lane, National Romanticism and Modern Architecture in Germany and the Scandinavian Countries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); John V. Maciuika, Before the Bauhaus: Architecture, Politics, and the German State, 18901920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).


On nineteenth-century developments, see Manfred Klinkott, Die Backsteinbaukunst der Berliner Schule: Von K. F. Schinkel bis zum Ausgang des Jahrhunderts (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1988); Wilko Potgeter, Die Erfindung des Verblendsteins: Bautechnik des Backstein-Rohbaus im Zeitalter der Industrialisierung (Petersberg: Imhof, 2022). On twentieth-century developments, see Christian Fuhrmeister, “Materialikonographie von Klinker und künstlichem Stein,” in Historische Architekturoberflächen: Kalk–Putz–Farbe / Historical Architectural Surfaces: Lime–Plaster–Colour, ed. Jürgen Pursche (Munich: ICOMOS, Nationalkomitee der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 2003); Dorothea Roos and Friedmar Voormann, Hamburger Backstein- und Klinkerbauten: Gestalt, Konstruktion, Material (Karlsruhe: KIT Scientific Publishing, 2011).


Potgeter, Die Erfindung des Verblendsteins, 126–47.


Eva Börsch-Supan, Berliner Baukunst nach Schinkel: 18401870 (Munich: Prestel, 1977).


Matthew Jefferies, Politics and Culture in Wilhelmine Germany: The Case of Industrial Architecture (Washington, D.C.: Berg, 1995), 23.


Gottfried Semper, The Four Elements of Architecture, and Other Writings [1851], trans. Harry F. Mallgrave and Wolfgang Herrmann (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).


Wilhelm Lübke, Geschichte der Architektur von den ältesten Zeiten bis auf die Gegenwart (Leipzig: Graul, 1855); Robert Dohme, Geschichte der deutschen Baukunst (Berlin: G. Grote, 1887), 173–76.


For example, August Essenwein, Norddeutschlands Backsteinbau im Mittelalter (Carlsruhe: Veith, 1855); Friedrich Adler, Mittelalterliche Backsteinbauwerke des preußischen Staates, vols. 1–2 (Berlin: Ernst & Korn, 1862–98).


[Hugo] Althoff and Conrad Strauß, “Die Keramik in der modernen Baukunst,” Deutsche Bauzeitung 59, nos. 17–18 (Feb./Mar. 1925), 132. The historical origins of the use of bricks and ceramics in northern German architecture were the subject of much debate. See Albrecht Haupt, “Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft im Ziegelbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 29, no. 43 (Apr. 1905).


Among the numerous defenses of machine-made facing bricks, see in particular Gustav Benfey, “Architekten und Verblendziegel-Industrie,” Deutsche Bauhütte 2, nos. 6–7 (Feb. 1907), 49, 57–58. Otto Stiehl was the most vocal advocate of the artistic superiority of traditional medieval methods of brickmaking. See Otto Stiehl, “Neuere technisch-künstlerische Bestrebungen im Backsteinbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 28, no. 53 (May 1904), 603–12.


Max Lesser, “Berlin in Noth,” Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 8 Nov 1895.


J. Jost, “Hermann Blankenstein,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 30, no. 21 (Mar. 1910), 149.


Walter Curt Behrendt, “Backstein als Baumaterial,” Dekorative Kunst 11, no. 9 (June 1908), 405.


Jefferies, Politics and Culture in Wilhelmine Germany, 57.


Paul Schultze-Naumburg, “Biedermeierstil?,” Der Kunstwart 19, no. 3 (Nov. 1905), 130–37.


Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Kulturarbeiten: Hausbau (Munich: Callwey, 1901), 23.


Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Kulturarbeiten: Dörfer und Kolonien (Munich: Callwey, 1904); Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Kulturarbeiten: Der Städtebau (Munich: Callwey, 1906).


Justus Möser, Osnabrückische Geschichte (Osnabrück: Schmid, 1768).


Mack Walker, German Home Towns: Community, State, and General Estate, 1648–1871 (1971; repr., Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), 3.


Ferdinand Tönnies, Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft: Abhandlung des Communismus und des Socialismus als empirischer Culturformen (Leipzig: Fues, 1887), 43.


Jefferies, Politics and Culture in Wilhelmine Germany, 86.


Dr. Glässing, “Ueber die Art der äußeren Architektur in großeren hervorragenden Straßen,” Baupolizeiliche Mitteilungen 3, no. 1 (1906), 11.


Otto Stiehl, “Baupolizei gegen Ziegelbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 30, no. 22 (Feb. 1906), 285.


Stiehl, 286.


Deutscher Verein für Ton-, Zement- und Kalkindustrie E.V., “Petition betreffend Heimatschutz und Verblendziegelbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 34, no. 49 (Apr. 1910), 557.


Gustav Wolf, Die schöne deutsche Stadt: Norddeutschland (Munich: Piper, 1913), 66–67.


Albrecht Haupt, Der deutsche Backsteinbau der Gegenwart und seine Lage: Auch eine Frage des Heimatschutzes (Leipzig: Ludwig Degener, 1910). Haupt did not reference Kulturarbeiten directly but referred to a polemical pamphlet that consolidated the volumes: Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Die Entstellung unseres Landes (Halle: Gebauer-Schwetschke, 1905).


Haupt, Der deutsche Backsteinbau, 5.


Haupt, 11.


Haupt, 38–42.


Haupt, 38.


Text from the pamphlet was reproduced in the Deutsche Bauzeitung. See Karl Schmidt, “Zur Aesthetik der Baustoffe: Ein Beitrag zur Heimatschutzbewegung,” Deutsche Bauzeitung 45, no. 18 (Mar. 1911), 145–48.


Schmidt, 146.


Important groups involved in these debates included the Association of German Facing Brick and Terracotta Manufacturers (Verein Deutscher Verblendstein- und Terrakottenfabrikanten), the League of German Clay Manufacturers (Verband Deutscher Tonindustrieller), and the German Association for Clay, Cement and Lime Industries (Deutscher Verein für Ton-, Zement- und Kalk-Industrie). For overviews of the key issues of the debates surrounding brick products, see Max Hasak, “Der Ziegelbau, eine Jungbrunnen künstlerischer Eigenart,” Wochenschrift des Architekten-Vereins zu Berlin 3, nos. 4–5 (Jan./Feb. 1908), 20–22, 25–26; Max Hasak, “Streitfragen aus dem Ziegelbau,” Deutsche Bauzeitung 42, no. 68 (Aug. 1908), 463–66.


Carl Sickel, “Die Architekten und der neuzeitige Backsteinbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 38, no. 60 (May 1914), 1009.


The Association of German Facing Brick and Terracotta Manufacturers was founded in 1901 as part of the manufacturers’ efforts to resist the widespread introduction of the monastery format, a change promoted by state and municipal authorities. See “Verein deutscher Verblendstein und Terrakotta-Fabrikanten,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 25, nos. 144, 146–47, 149 (Dec. 1901), 2103–6, 2129–34, 2142–46, 2163–65. After 1904, the association became increasingly concerned with protecting the interests of industrialists against the threat of the Heimatschutz movement.


Otto Stiehl, “Rauhe Verblendsteine,” Architektonische Rundschau 24, no. 9 (1908), 65–72; “Verein deutscher Verblendstein- und Terrakottenfabrikanten: 8 Hauptsammlung,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 33, no. 31 (Mar. 1909), 303.


On these color trends, see Fritz Schumacher, “Farbige Architektur,” Der Kunstwart 14, no. 20 (July 1901), 297–302.


Otto Stiehl, “Backsteinbau und Denkmalpflege,” Der Städtebau 4, no. 5 (1907), 63.


Sickel, “Die Architekten und der neuzeitige Backsteinbau,” 1009.


Hermann Muthesius, “Die neuzeitliche Ziegelbauweise in England,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 18, nos. 48–51 (Nov./Dec. 1898), 581.


Muthesius, 582.


Muthesius, 622.


Muthesius, 582–83. An example of this technique can be found on the frieze of Shaw’s 1–2 St. James Street building in London (1882–83).


Muthesius, 622. Muthesius also gave a lecture on the topic of English brick construction to members of the clay trades in 1906. For a transcript of the lecture with illustrations, see Hermann Muthesius, “Der moderne Ziegelbau in England unter Vorführung von Lichtbildern,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 30, no. 61 (May 1906), 928–38.


Robert Breuer, “Einige Häuser von Hermann Muthesius,” Berliner Architekturwelt 13, no. 6 (Sept. 1910), 219.


Breuer, 233.


Robert Breuer, “Haus Breul von Architekt Hermann Muthesius und Haus Liebermann von Arch. Paul Baumgarten,” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 29, no. 1 (1911–12), 47.


See Hermann Muthesius, Style-Architecture and Building-Art: Transformations of Architecture in the Nineteenth Century and Its Present Condition [1902], trans. Stanford Anderson (Santa Monica, Calif.: Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, 1994).


The scholarly works on Muthesius are too numerous to list here. For an overview of his cultural criticism and suburban projects, see Laurent Stalder, Hermann Muthesius, 18611927: Das Landhaus als kulturgeschichtlicher Entwurf (Zurich: gta Verlag, 2008).


Paul Westheim, “Moderne Backsteinbau,” Die Bauwelt 2, no. 25 (1911), 21.


Westheim, 22.


Paul Westheim, “Baustoff und Baumensch,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 37, no. 19 (Feb. 1913), 237.


Westheim, 237.


Westheim, “Moderner Backsteinbau,” 25.


Westheim, 21–25. Stiehl also remained a key commentator on new developments in brick building in the residential sphere. See Otto Stiehl, “Allerlei Backsteinbauten,” Der Baumeister 8, no. 4 (Jan. 1910), 37–48.


Behrendt, “Backstein als Baumaterial,” 405–13.


Walter Curt Behrendt, “Neue Backsteinbauten,” Neudeutsche Bauzeitung 42, no. 51 (1908), 384.


Bischoff designed the apartment façade, and Willi Witt designed the floor plan. See Behrendt, “Backstein als Baumaterial,” 413.


Max Gary, “Neuere Ziegelbauweisen,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 30, no. 66 (June 1906), 1028.


Hans Sachse, “Verblenderbauten im Straßenbilde,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 35, no. 26 (Feb. 1911), 324.


Paul Mebes, Um 1800: Architektur und Handwerk im letzten Jahrhuntert ihrer traditionallen Entwicklung, vol. 1 (Munich: F. Bruckmann, 1908). On Mebe’s oeuvre, see Annemarie Jaeggi, “Traditionell und modern zugleich: Das Werk des Berliner Architekten Paul Mebes (1872–1938) als Fallbeispiel für eine ‘andere Moderne,’ ” Marburger Jahrbuch für Kunstwissenschaft 26 (1999), 227–41.


These included the Hanschke House (1907–8), the Mildner House (1911), and a house for the sculptor Walter Schmarje (1911–12).


Walter Curt Behrendt, “Wohnhausbauten von Paul Mebes,” Dekorative Kunst 16, no. 6 (Mar. 1913), 256.


“Berliner Backsteinbau,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 36, no. 84 (July 1912), 1148.


A. G., “Neuere Arbeiten von Walter Schmarje,” Dekorative Kunst 16, no. 6 (Mar. 1913), 281.


“Die Periode des Rohziegelbaues in den städtischen Bauten,” Berliner Tageblatt, 4 July 1897.


For a typical reaction to the rumors from the brick trades, see Karl Dummler, “Werden die städtischen Hochbauten von Berlin künftighin geputzt werden?,” Deutsche Töpfer- und Ziegler-Zeitung 29, no. 11 (Feb. 1898), 62–66. For Hoffmann’s response, see “Putzbau oder Rohziegelbau?,” Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 22 Jan. 1898.


Stadt Berlin, Festgabe gewidmet den Mitgliedern des 14. Internationalen Kongresses für Hygiene und Demographie von der Stadt Berlin (Berlin: Wasmuth, 1907), 14. The city of Berlin is credited as author of this text, but it was likely penned by Hoffmann.


Jeffrey K. Wilson, “Nature and Nation: The ‘German Forest’ as a National Symbol, 1871–1914” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2002), 223–33.


“Verein deutscher Verblendstein und Terrakotta-Fabrikanten,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 25, no. 146 (Dec. 1901), 2133.


Kenneth Barkin, “Social Control and the Volksschule in Vormärz Prussia,” Central European History 16, no. 1 (Dec. 1983), 32.


Katharine D. Kennedy, “A Nation’s Readers: Cultural Integration and the Schoolbook Canon in Wilhelmine Germany,” Paedagogica Historica 33, no. 2 (July 1997), 469.


Hermann Jansen, “Unsere Bauten,” Der Baumeister 7, no. 1. (Oct. 1908), 4–9; Hermann Muthesius, “Architektur,” Über Land und Meer 105, no. 11 (Oct. 1911), 320–21.


Paul Ochs, “Zwei neuere Berliner Ziegelbauten,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 35, no. 39 (Mar. 1911), 492.


Fritz Stahl, Ludwig Hoffmann (Berlin: Ernst Wasmuth, 1914); Fritz Stahl, “Fritz Schumachers Hamburger Bauten,” Wasmuths Monatschefte für Baukunst 4, nos. 9–10 (1919–20), 259.


On Schumacher’s oeuvre, see Dirk Schubert, “Fritz Schumacher—Neglected German Town Planner and Urban Reformer in Hamburg and Cologne,” Planning Perspectives 36, no. 1 (2021), 1–19.


For example, see Paul Bröcker, “Der Backsteinbau in Hamburg,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 37, no. 18 (Feb. 1913), 219–22.


Fritz Schumacher, Das Wesen des neuzeitlichen Backsteinbaues (1917; repr., Munich: Callwey, 1985), 9.


Jennifer Jenkins, Provincial Modernity: Local Culture and Liberal Politics in Fin-de-Siècle Hamburg (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2003), 146–73.


Fritz Schumacher, “Schulgebäude: 1. Staatliche Schulen,” in Hamburg und seine Bauten, ed. Architekten- und Ingenieur-Verein zu Hamburg (Hamburg: Boysen & Maasch, 1914), 168–200.


Schumacher, Das Wesen des neuzeitlichen Backsteinbaues, 9.


Fritz Schumacher, “Architektonische Aufgaben der Städte,” in Die deutschen Städte: Geschildert nach den Ergebnissen der ersten deutschen Städteausstellung zu Dresden 1903, ed. Robert Wuttke (Leipzig: Friedrich Brandstetter, 1904), 57.


Schumacher, 57.


Jennifer Reed Dillon, “Modernity, Sanitation and the Public Bath: Berlin, 1896–1930, as Archetype” (PhD diss., Duke University, 2007), 139–98.


Jakob Julius Scharvogel, “Neuer Hamburger Backsteinbau,” Dekorative Kunst 20, no. 11 (Aug. 1917), 337.


Paul Westheim, “Unsere Bauten: Ein neues Wertheim-Warenbau,” Der Baumeister 12, no. 13 (Apr. 1914), 51–55.


Bruno Taut, “Zu den Arbeiten der Architekten Bruno Taut und Hoffmann,” Moderne Bauformen 12, no. 3 (1913), 122.


Paul Westheim, “Künstlerische Keramik: Ein bevorzugter Baustoff bei den neuen Berliner Geschäftsbauten,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 37, no. 131 (Nov. 1913), 1729–30.


Robert Breuer, “Das Hamburger Kontorhaus: Neue Arbeiten von Fritz Höger, Hamburg,” Moderne Bauformen 8, no. 12 (1914), 538.


Donald J. Harreld, A Companion to the Hanseatic League (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 127–61.


Jan Lubitz, “Von der Kaufmannsstadt zur Handelsmetropole—Entwicklung des Hamburger Kontorhauses von 1886–1914,” in Stadtentwicklung zur Moderne: Die Entstehung großstädtischer Hafen- und Bürohausquartiere, ed. Frank Pieter Hesse (Berlin: Bäßler, 2012), 206.


See Matthew Jefferies, “A City in Distress? Paul Bröcker and the New Architecture of Hamburg, 1900–1918,” in The City in Central Europe: Culture and Society from 1800 to the Present, ed. Malcolm Gee, Tim Kirk, and Jill Steward (Aldershot: Ashgate 1999), 9–20.


Paul Bröcker “Baustoffindustrie und Heimatschutzbewegung,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 37, nos. 68, 71, 76, 77 (June/July 1913), 891–92.


Paul Bröcker, Hamburg in Not! Ein eiliger Hilferuf und ein Vorschlag zur Rettung der vaterstädtischen Baukultur (Hamburg: Eggers & Bröcker, 1908), 27.


Wilhelm Melhop, Alt-hamburgische Bauweise (Hamburg: Boysen & Maasch, 1908).


In 1911 Bröcker launched the journal Der Hamburger, which was dedicated to the study of Hamburg’s history and material culture.


Fritz Schumacher, Stufen des Lebens: Erinnerungen eines Baumeisters (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1935), 305.


Paul Bröcker and Fritz Höger, Die Architektur des hamburgischen Geschäftshauses: Ein zeitgemäßes Wort für die Ausbildung der Mönckebergstraße (Hamburg: Boysen & Maasch, 1910).


Bröcker and Höger took issue with Alfred Löwengard’s argument that the modern kontor house presented an entirely new technical problem for which there was no artistic precedent. See Alfred Löwengard, “Geschäfts-, Kontor- und Warenhäuser,” in Architekten- und Ingenieur-Verein zu Hamburg, Hamburg und seine Bauten.


Bröcker and Höger, Die Architektur des hamburgischen Geschäftshauses, 52.


Bröcker and Höger, 51–52.


Bröcker, Hamburg in Not!, 10.


Werner Jakstein, “Fritz Högers Arbeiten und ihre Wirkung auf die Entwicklung der Hamburger Architektur,” Wasmuths Monatschefte für Baukunst 1, no. 3 (1914–15), 126. On Höger’s relationship with the Heimatschutz movement, see Matthias Schmidt, “Fritz Höger und das Verständnis des Backsteinbaus im Umfeld der Heimatschutzbewegung,” in Backsteinarchitektur in Mitteleuropa: Neue Forschungen, ed. Ernst Badstübner and Uwe Albrecht (Berlin: Lukas, 2001), 369–82.


Paul Bröcker, “Künstlerische Rechtfertigung und Möglichkeit der Verblendung,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 37, no. 91 (Aug. 1913), 1181–82.


Christiane C. Collins and George Collins, Camillo Sitte: The Birth of Modern City Planning (Mineola, N.Y.: Courier, 2006).


Walther Puritz, “Neue Hamburger Bauten,” Moderne Bauformen 9, no. 6 (1910), 245.


Paul Westheim, “Fritz Schumacher,” Tonindustrie-Zeitung 38, no. 9 (Jan. 1914), 120.


Herbert Mhe, “Zur Architektur der City: Prinzipielle Anmerkungen zu Hamburgs neuen Geschäftshäusern,” Kunstgewerbeblatt 27, no. 5 (1915–16), 88.


Walter Curt Behrendt, Die einheitliche Blockfront als Raumelement im Stadtbau: Ein Beitrag zur Stadtbaukunst der Gegenwart (Berlin: Bruno Cassirer 1911); Karl Scheffler, “Ein Weg zum Stil,” Berliner Architekturwelt 5, no. 9 (1903), 291–95.


Mhe, “Zur Architektur der City,” 86.


Mhe, 86.


Mhe, 90.


Quoted in Konrad Werner Schulze, Der Ziegelbau (Stuttgart: Fritz Wedekind, 1927), 60.


Ludwig Bohnstedt, “Ueber den Backsteinrohbau,” Deutsche Bauzeitung 4, no. 17 (Apr. 1870), 136–38.