Search results for 'Stripped classical'

Fascist Stripped Classical (German)

24 Nov
Hitler’s Chancellery, Haus der Deutschen Kunst Ehrentempel
Some interesting images-

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Other buildings on the Kaserne were built in the 1930s especially for the Leibstandarte.  This was their headquarters building, with their name above the main entrance. The two stone guards, or “Reichsrottenführer,” stood eternal watch. (Wenn alle Brüder schweigen, 1981 ed.)

The newer part of the compound is now a German government archives. The Soviets removed the eagle and swastika before the Americans arrived, and the US troops removed the Leibstandarte name. The “Reichsrottenführer” guards were not removed, but covered with concrete; they remain today on their pedestals, although hidden from view.

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Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring’s Air Ministry building on Wilhelmstraße was a classic example of Nazi architecture. The building somehow escaped major damage during the war, and was restored by the East German government. Its appearance today is almost exactly as in the 1930s (minus the Eagles and Swastikas).  (period postcard)


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The large eagle-and-swastika Hoheitszeichen were by sculptor Walter Lemcke. The columns at the Wilhelmstraße entrance were decorated with Nazi symbols.  (from Werner Rittich, “Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart,” Berlin, 1938


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Architectural model of the Air Ministry complex.   (from Official Catalog of the 1st German Architecture and Crafts
Exhibition, in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst in Munich, January-March 1938


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The ornate Ehrensaal, or Honor Hall, of the Air Ministry.  (from “Kunst in Deutschen Reich”)

Other decorative sculptures in the Air Ministry Building were by Arnold Waldschmidt.  (from Werner Rittich, “Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart,” Berlin, 1938 (author’s collection)


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Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda stood prominently on Wilhelmstraße, across the street from the old Reichs Chancellery. During building construction just before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a dreary East German building was erected in the open area just on Wilhelmstraße, blocking the front of the old Ministry building. This modern building is today a youth activities building, and access to the old Propaganda Ministry building behind it can be difficult.  (period photo from Frau Prof. Gerdy Troost, “Das Bauen in Neuen Reich,” Bayreuth, 1938; modern photo courtesy Niall McDonagh)

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Wehrmacht headquarters on Bendlerstraße was where Army officers who opposed Hitler planned the attempt on his life on 20 July 1944. After the attempt failed, the leaders were rounded up and shot in the courtyard of this building; among these was Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, who had planted the bomb.  (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand)

Today the building houses the Memorial and Museum of the German Resistance. The street has been renamed Stauffenbergstraße.

With special thanks to the excellent website
World War II in Berlin — Air-raid Shelters, Flak Towers and Bunkers —

Berliner Unterwelten e.V. (exploring Berlin underground) —

Nazi architectureGermany pavilion at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris, 1937.Nazi architecture was an architectural plan and integral part of the Nazi party’s plans to create a cultural and spiritual rebirth in Germany as part of the Third Reich.

Adolf Hitler was an admirer of imperial Rome and aware that some ancient Germans had, over time, become part of the social fabric and exerted influence on the Empire. On the other hand, the Germanic tribes were traditionally regarded by the Romans as enemies of the Pax Romana. Nonetheless, he considered the Romans an early Aryan empire, and emulated their architecture in an original style inspired by both neoclassicism and art deco, sometimes known as “severe” deco, erecting edifices as cult sites for the Nazi party. He also ordered construction of a type of Victory Altar, borrowed from the Greeks, who were, according to Nazi theory, inseminated with the seed of the Aryan peoples. At the same time, because of his admiration for the Classical cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, he could not isolate and politicise German antiquity, as Mussolini had done with respect to Roman antiquity. Therefore he had to import political symbols into Germany and justify their presence on the grounds of a spurious racial ancestry, the myth that ancient Greeks were among the ancestors of the Germans – linked to the same Aryan peoples.

Hitler’s fantasies about being the founder of a thousand-year Reich were in harmony with the Colosseum being associated with eternity. Hitler envisioned all future Olympic games to be held in Germany in the Deutsches Stadion. It is clear that Hitler anticipated that after winning the war, a subjected world would have no choice but to send its athletes to Germany every time the Olympic games were held. Thus, this building foreshadowed Hitler’s craving for world domination long before this aim was put into words. Hitler habitually derived satisfaction from seeing world-famous monuments being surpassed in size by German equivalents.

Most regimes, especially new ones, wish to make their mark both physically and emotionally on the places they rule. The most tangible way of doing so is by constructing buildings and monuments. Architecture is considered to be the only art form that can actually physically meld with the world as well as influence the people who inhabit it. Buildings, as autonomous things, must be addressed by the inhabitants as they go about their lives. In this sense, people are “forced” to move in certain ways, or to look at specific things. In so doing, Architecture affects not only the landscape, but also the mood of the populace who are served. The Nazis believed architecture played a key role in creating their new order. Architecture had a special importance to the politicians, who like most totalitarian leaders, sought to influence all aspects of human life.

Moreover, not only major cities but also small villages were to express the achievement and the nature of the German people. The very face of the land was to be transformed. It was not enough to limit Marxist or Liberal architecture. The new buildings must proclaim to the world and to the unconverted German that the era of the thousand-year Reich had dawned. Obviously, then, in seeking to influence the foreign visitor with its overpowering representative edifices, the Third Reich was didactic and theatrical.

Hitler the architect
Hitler was quite fond of the numerous theatres built by Hermann and Ferdinand Fellner, who built in the late baroque style. In addition, he appreciated the stricter architects of the nineteenth century such as Gottfried Semper, who built the Dresden Opera House, the Picture Gallery in Dresden, the court museums in Vienna and Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, who designed several buildings in Athens in 1840. He raved about the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, and the Law Courts of Brussels by the architect Poelaert.

Ultimately, he was always drawn back to inflated neo-baroque such as Kaiser Wilhelm II had fostered, through his court architect Ihne. Fundamentally, it was decadent baroque comparable to the style that accompanied the decline of the Roman Empire. Thus, in the realm of architecture, as in painting and sculpture, Hitler really remained arrested in the world of his youth: the world of 1880 to 1910, which stamped its imprint on his artistic taste as on his political and ideological conceptions.

The Führer did not have one particular style; there was no official architecture of the Reich, only the neoclassical baseline that was enlarged, multiplied, altered and exaggerated, sometimes to the point of ludicrousness. Hitler appreciated the permanent qualities of the classical style as it had a relationship between the Dorians and his own Germanic world.

It would be a mistake to try to look within Hitler’s mentality for some ideologically-based architectural style. That would not have been in keeping with his pragmatic way of thinking.

Three primary roles
Nazi architecture has three primary roles in the creation of its new order: (i) Theatrical; (ii) Symbolic; (iii) Didactic. In addition, the Nazis saw architecture as a method of producing buildings that had a function, but also served a larger purpose. For example, the House of German Art had the function of housing art, but through its form, style and design it had the purpose of being a community structure built using an Aryan style, which acted as a kind of temple to acceptable German art.

Many Nazi buildings were stages for communal activity, creations of space meant to embody the principles on which Nazi ideology was based. From Albert Speer’s seemingly iconoclastic use of banners for the May Day celebrations in the Lustgarten, to the Nazi co-option of the Thing tradition, the Nazis wanted to link themselves to a German past.

The Dietrich Eckart Theater during a scene from Handel’s HeraklesThe link could be direct; a Thingplatz (or Thingstätte) was a meeting place near or directly on a site of supposed special historical significance, used for the holding of festivals associated with a Germanic past. This was an attempt to link the German people back to both their history and their land. The use of ‘Thing’ places was closely associated with the ‘blood and soil’ part of Nazi ideology, which involved the perceived right of those of German blood to occupy German land. The Thingplatz would contain structures, which often included natural objects like stones and were built in the most natural setting possible. These structures would be built following the pattern of an ancient Greek theatre, following a structure of an historical culture considered to be Aryan. This stressing of a physical link between the past and Nazism aided to legitimatize the Nazi view of history, or even the Nazi regime itself. Still, the ‘Thing’ movement was not successful.

The link could be indirect; the May Day celebrations of 1936 in Berlin took place in a Lustgarten that had been transformed into a stage. This transformation was not the standard dressing of a specific place but a creation of a new anonymous, pure, cubic space that freed itself from the immediate history of Berlin, the church and the monarchy, yet was still associated with the distant aura of a Hellenic past. This was simply the creation of a new ceremonial place in direct competition with the former Royal Palace and Altes Museum, both even in the 1930s, still symbols of a royal Berlin. The symbolism was clear; any speaker at the event would be standing in front of the Altes Museum, which housed Germany’s classical collection that could be seen by the audience only through Nazi banners. There was a link between the new order and the classical past, but the new order was paramount.

The Nazis would bring the community together using architecture, creating a stage for the community experience. These buildings were also solely for the German people, the great hall in Berlin was not a supranational People’s House like those being built in the Soviet Union, but the stage where tens of thousands of recharged citizens would enter into a solemn mystic union with the Supreme Leader of the German Nation. The sheer size of the stage itself would magnify the importance of what was being said.

How these stages were set was also an issue, from the most mundane building to the grandest, the form and style used in their construction tell a great deal about and are symbols of those who created them, when they were created and why they were created. Designs of this kind occasionally occur by accident; however, the architectural styles speak to the tastes of those who constructed the building or paid for its construction. It also speaks to the tastes of the general architectural movements of the time and the regional variants that influenced them. Nazi buildings were an expression of the essence of the movement, built as a National Socialist building should be, regardless of the style used.

Determining what National Socialists saw as the concept of Nazi Architecture is problematic. Various members of the leadership had differing views and tastes and commentators see the same style in different ways. Roger Eatwell sees the format used at the Nuremberg rallies as a mixture of Catholic ceremony and left-wing Expressionist form and lighting, while Sir Nevile Henderson saw a cathedral of ice. Still, if a building was designed and built using the Nazi version of what was German, it was considered Nazi Architecture.

In general, there were two primary National Socialist styles of architecture. Nazi Architecture in its crudest sense was either a squared-off version of neo-classical architecture, or a mimicry of völkisch and national romanticism in buildings and structures. The most notable example of this is the Wewelsburg castle complex redesigned in a very mythological way as a cult site for the SS. Especially in the North Tower of the castle medieval Romanesque and Gothic architecture was imitated. The Wewelsburg was to become “centre of the world”.

The neo-classical style was primarily used for urban state buildings or party buildings such as the Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, the planned Volkshalle for Berlin and the Dietrich Eckart Stage in Berlin. This style was not just used for physical construction, but on the ordered columns of searchlights that formed Speer’s ‘cathedral of light’ used at the Nuremberg Party Rallies.

The völkish style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krössinsee, the walls and watchtowers of KL Flossenbürg and KL Mauthausen. It was also to be applied to rural new towns as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences. This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting and the administration building for the federal post office.

Most Nazi Architecture was neither novel in style nor concept; it was not supposed to be. Even a cursory inspection of what was intended for Berlin finds analogies all over the world. Long boulevards with important buildings along them can be found in the grid pattern road structures of Washington and New York, the Mall and Whitehall in London, and the boulevards of Paris. Large domes can be found on the buildings of the Mughal Empire of India, the Capitol in Washington, the Pantheon and Basilica di San Pietro in Rome. Even the ‘Kraft durch Freude’ “Strength through Joy” resort at Prora is not wholly unlike the buildings envisaged by Le Corbusier in his ‘City of Three Million Inhabitants’. The building of a formal governmental zone outside the centre of an old city or totally on its own had become commonplace by the 1930s. This is not to say their plans were simply an attempt to copy others, but that they were following a pattern already established in human society. The forms used may have been inspired by other city redevelopment plans like Edwin Lutyens’ Delhi, Burnham’s Chicago or even Walter Burley Griffin’s Canberra.

National Socialism is often viewed as anti-modern and romantic or having a pragmatic willingness to use modern means in pursuit of anti-modern purposes. This confuses the Nazi dislike of certain styles like the Bauhaus with a blanket dislike of all modern styles. This was based mainly on what the Bauhaus and others were seen as representing, like foreign influences or the decadence of the Weimar Republic. The lack of any human scale details or plain exteriors may have produced an overwhelming effect, but this style was common from the 1910s onwards. This modern approach was not limited to the neo-classical buildings for city centres, but was also used for völkish buildings like Ordensburgs and Autobahn garages.

The neo-classical style used was not novel for the time; it was firmly anchored in time. Speer’s style was assimilating the international 1930s style of public architecture, which was then being pursued as a modernising classicism. This is in direct contrast to Peter Adams’s attempts to separate Nazi art from the Zeitgeist and present it as something that can be looked at through only the lens of Auschwitz. This is trying to establish by default a thesis that ugly regimes must produce ugly buildings and such regimes are so evil that everything they produce must be evil or third-rate. The reality was that destroying to build anew was a standard polemical gesture of the Modernist movement and the styles chosen were not unlike the ones being used at the time. To criticize Speer’s architectural style is to criticise buildings being built at the same time all over the world. Ultimately, Nazi Architecture was not supposed to be pleasing; its purpose was to fulfil its task.

Hitler saw the buildings of the past as direct representations of the culture that created them and how they were created. Hitler believed they could be used by man to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity and that in his time, ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture. Nazi Architecture should speak to the conscience of a future Germany centuries from now.

Central to this was Albert Speer’s Theory of Ruin Value, in which the Nazis would build structures which even in a state of decay, after hundreds or thousands of years would more or less resemble Roman models. Speer intended to produce this result by avoiding elements of modern construction such as steel girders and reinforced concrete which are subject to weathering and by designing his buildings to withstand the impact of the wind even if the roofs and ceilings were so neglected that they no longer braced the walls. In this respect, it can be seen that by going back to the materials of the past and by the proper engineering of buildings it was possible to create a permanence that was impossible with contemporary building materials and styles. It has been suggested that the use of stone was more a result of economic necessity or the product of an attempt by the SS to build up a stable position within the German economy, but both are at most secondary to the desire for the permanence stone gives. To Hitler, only the great cultural documents of humanity made of granite and marble could symbolize his new order.

The theory of ruin value could be seen as a backward looking concept; however, what it actually does is look at the types of buildings that survive from the past, understand why they survived, and attempt to build the new buildings of the Reich based on such understanding. In addition, the infrastructure and organization behind the provision of building material was purely of the time. Hitler was not like Shelley’s Ozymandias, a leader boasting about his power to the future, but rather a builder of symbolic expressions of the Nazi movement and of the new Germany they would create.

Nazi buildings were not to be like the Reichstag, seen as a grandiose monument conjuring up historical reminiscences, but as symbols of a new Germany. The buildings had to be suitable for their intended role. An example of this is the rebuilt Reichskanzlei that was planned as a symbol of the Greater German Reich, which included Austria even though at the time of planning the Anschluss was still three years away. So important was the symbolism of the buildings that their form was decided on long before their construction and in some cases, even before the events they were to symbolize. Speer himself remarked that many of the buildings Hitler asked him to construct were glorifying the victories he didn’t yet have in his pocket. Hitler drew sketches of buildings he hoped to build as early as the 1920s, when there was not a shred of hope that they could ever be built. The buildings had to look the part: the Reichskanzlei must look like the centre of the Reich, not the headquarters of a soap company. Nazi buildings would be the great cultural documents that the new order would create in their stronger, protected community.

Symbolic architecture need not be built as it often already existed. In 1941 the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps published an essay by Heinrich Himmler entitled “German Castles in the East”, in which he wrote, “When people are silent, stones speak. By means of the stone, great epochs speak to the present so that fellow citizens; are able to uplift themselves through the beauty of self-made buildings. Proud and self-assured, they should be able to look upon these works erected by their own community.” Himmler continues by creating a cyclical process linking the people, their blood and their buildings, “Buildings are always erected by people. People are children of their blood, are members or their race. As blood speaks, so the people build.”

Where buildings held important cultural items, they would either be remodelled like Brunswick Cathedral, which was the burial place of Henry the Lion, co-opted like Strasbourg Cathedral as the monument to Germany’s unknown soldier, or moved to a more appropriate position, like the Victory Column in Berlin.

Like the Sacré-Coeur basilica in Montmartre or the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, the new buildings of the National Socialists would replace the commercial buildings that were signs of the cultural decay and general break-up of the Berlin of the 1930s. To express their true Aryan nature, the Nazis had to destroy the creations of non-Germans and the decadent past and accept Hitler’s judgment as to which way German art must go in order to fulfil its task as the expression of German character. The new Berlin, like the new National Socialist Germany, would superimpose itself onto the decadence of the old. The Nazi vision of a city would replace the visions of the past, they would replace the twilight, or the past, with clarity, cleanliness, and pure, distinct lines.

Symbols were not just limited to permanent buildings; familiar symbols of the north European past were used regularly in the decorations for Nazi festivals. An example of this is the use of the Maypole at the May Day celebrations. It is the traditional symbol throughout northern Europe of the end of winter and of the reawakening of nature and the focus of community events.

At the doors of the German Pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exhibition were two sets of seven meter high statues that symbolized family and community. The pavilion that was designed as a blatant symbol of Nazi Germany was planned by a German, Albert Speer and built solely out of German materials shipped from within Germany.

Symbolism, graphic art and hortatory inscriptions were prominent in all forms of Nazi-approved architecture. The eagle with the wreathed swastikas, heroic friezes and free-standing sculpture were common. Often mottoes or quotations from Mein Kampf or Hitler’s speeches were placed over doorways or carved into walls. The Nazi message was conveyed in friezes, which extolled labour, motherhood, the agrarian life and other values. Muscular nudes, symbolic of military and political strength, guarded the entrance to the Berlin Chancellery[7]

“The Ordensburgen are the schools at which the ideology of National Socialism is taught to a picked group of youths who desire to dedicate their lives to political service. The Ordensburgen’s architectural form derives from the fortresslike castles built by the Teutonic Knights whose mission it was to civilise and colonise the lands east of the Elbe. Since it is the mission of the Ordensburg to train and develop a new order of leaders who are to take with them into practical life the ideals of the movement which they serve, this form represents an appropriate architectural symbol.”[8]
The three NSDAP-Ordensburgen were Ordensburg Krössinsee, Ordensburg Sonthofen and Ordensburg Vogelsang.

Hitler saw architecture as, “The Word In Stone,” a method of imparting a message. This is not regime architecture primarily for general propaganda purposes as argued by Benton, but is work meant to impart a specific message. This would be a message that all decent Germans would understand, like the lessons of events at the Degenerate Art exhibition staged in Munich in 1937. They would not understand it because they were told to; they would understand it simply because of who they were.

A German autobahn in the 1930sThe Nazis chose new versions of past styles for most of their architecture. This should not be viewed simply as an attempt to reconstruct the past, but rather an effort to use aspects of the past to create a new present. Most buildings are copies in some form or other, but for the Nazis, copying the past not only linked them to the past in general but also specifically to an Aryan past. Neo-classical architecture and Renaissance architecture were direct representations of Aryan culture. Völkish architecture was also Aryan but of a Germanic nature. Still, these analogues were not part of an attempt to recreate an actual past, but were meant to emphasize the importance of Aryan culture as a justification for the actions of the present. Many other nations from the Austro Hungarian Empire to the United States have constructed major government buildings in historical styles to get across a specific message.

While Hitler saw the architecture of the Weimar Republic as an object lesson in cultural decline, the new buildings he would build would teach a different lesson, that of national rebirth. The size of the buildings proposed for Berlin were not megalomaniacal in size but meant to restore to each individual German citizen their self-respect and to signify the insignificance of the individual in relation to the community as a whole. The distinct lack of any detailing at a human scale in the urban neo-classical building would have simply overawed, imparting the message without any subtlety. If the message was not understood it would be drummed in by making people go in straight lines to predetermined positions. The message of community would even affect holidays. Clemens Klotz Prora would not only have a Festhalle in which people would hear speeches and get involved in communal events but also give everyone the same view of the sea.

Engineering could be coupled with architecture to teach lessons too. It is clear that the Autobahn was seen as a way of creating a community, which was both physically and symbolically linked. When Carl Theoder Protzen entitled his painting of the Autobahn bridge at Leipheim, “Clear the forest – dynamite the rock; conquer the valley; overcome the distance; stretch the road through the German land,” he was linking clear connections between what should be done and what it was to accomplish. Building the Autobahn would not only teach the German people that they were linked together but also would show that it had been accomplished by Germans working together. It would be an inspiration for the construction of the community of the German People. The effort that went into the styling of Autobahn bridges and garages shows plainly that it was more than just a motorway. In some circumstances, the design used for the Autobahn actually affects the functioning of its supposed purpose.

The role the Nazis hoped architecture would play in the creation of a new order was like that of a book: to provide a place to hold the message, the symbols to impart it and a teacher to read it. Architecture, like every other art form, would be produced to serve the new Nazi order. For them, if this meant following existing architectural styles or providing analogues of other buildings, then so it is.

Cult of victory
Both the Nazis and the Romans employed architecture of colossal dimensions to overawe and intimidate. Both cultures were preoccupied with architectural monuments that celebrated or glorified a victory ideology: triumphal arches (the largest in the world on Berlin’s north-south axis), columns, trophies, and a cult of pageantry associated with the subjugation of others. As Albert Speer remarked, when it was safe to do so: “The Romans built arches of triumph to celebrate the big victories won by the Roman Empire, while Hitler built them to celebrate victories he had not yet won.”[9]

The Nazis planned and built many military trophies and memorials (Gr Mahnmäler), on the eastern borders of the Reich. In the same way, the Romans had built celebratory trophies on the borders of their empire to commemorate victories and warn off would-be attackers. One of the most prominent memorial buildings intended to commemorate Germany’s past and anticipated military glory was Wilhelm Kreis’s Soldatenhalle. This was to be yet another cult centre to promote the regime’s glorification of war, patriotic self-sacrifice and virtutes militares. The main architectural features of this building were overtly Roman.[10] A groin-vaulted crypt beneath the main barrel-vaulted hall was intended as a pantheon of generals exhibited here in effigy. In addition, it functioned as a herõon, since the bones of Frederick the Great were to be placed in the building.

Flags and insignia played an important part in Nazi ceremonial and in the decoration of buildings. The eagle-topped standards carried by the SA at Nuremberg rallies were reminiscent of Roman legionary standards, the uniformity of which Hitler admired.[12] There can be little doubt that Hitler’s state architecture, even when seen today in photographs of architectural models, conveys a sense of “Power and Force” (Gr Macht und Gewalt), which of course Hitler wanted it to embody.

Inevitably, after Hitler’s defeat, the colossal dimensions of his buildings tended to be seen, as they were by Speer in his memoirs, as symbols of Hitler’s megalomania. This is perhaps a valid view point, but it is also something of an oversimplification, since at the time the buildings were planned and erected, they were valid symbols of Germany’s rapidly rising power and expressed the optimism generated by Hitler’s spectacular initial victories. The vast public buildings of ancient Rome have rarely been explained as symptoms of imperial megalomania, except perhaps for the Domus Aurea, since Roman imperialism, which generated money and labour necessary for the erection of Rome’s monumental buildings, was supremely successful and long-lived. Hitler’s architecture is sometimes misjudged because he was building for the future in anticipation of a greatly enlarged Reich. Here it is worth noting that Vitruvius perceived that Augustus was building on a large scale for future greatness. Hitler’s optimistic expectations were frustrated and in the aftermath of catastrophe his architectural plans seemed by many to be those of a madman. However difficult it may be to view these plans objectively, it would be a mistake to regard his buildings as either psychologically ineffective or symbolically impotent. This is certainly not the impression given by Speer or Giesler at the time they were articulating Hitler’s architectural plans.

Had Hitler achieved all his political and military aims and had his successors consolidated and perhaps even expanded his territorial gains, the art and architecture of Germany would undoubtedly have reflected the sentiment that pervaded much of Rome’s art in the Augustan period, that is, a confidently assumed right to dominate others, which Virgil elegantly, if brutally, expressed in Aeneid 6.851-53: “Remember, Roman, to exercise dominion over nations. These will be your skills: to impose culture on peace, to spare the conquered and to war down the proud.” This passage, so much in tune with Nazi aspirations is repeatedly referred to in the political literature of Germany at the time.

Berlin’s reshaping
In (Mein Kampf 1.10), Hitler states that industrialized German cities of his day lacked dominating public monuments and a central focus for community life. In fact, adverse criticism of the rapid industrialization of German cities after 1870 had already been voiced by other critiques.[15]

The ideal Nazi city was not to be too large, since it was to reflect pre-industrial values and its state monuments, the products and symbols of collective effort (Gr.Gemeinschaftsarbeiten), were to be given maximum prominence by being centrally situated in the new and reshaped cities of the enlarged Reich.

Hitler’s comments in (Mein Kampf 1.10) indicated that he saw buildings such as the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus as symbols of the political might and power of the Roman people. Hitler stated, “Architecture is not only the spoken word in stone, but also is the expression of the faith and conviction of a community, or else it signifies the power, greatness and fame of a great man or ruler.” In Hitler’s cultural address, “The Buildings of the Third Reich,” delivered in September 1937, in Nuremberg, he affirmed that the new buildings of the Reich were to reinforce the authority of the Nazi party and the state and at the same time provide “gigantic evidence of the community” (Gr. gigantischen Zeugen unserer Gemeinschaft). The architectural evidence of this authority could already be seen in Nuremberg, Munich and Berlin and would become still more evident when more plans had been put into effect.

On September 19, 1933, Hitler told the mayor of Berlin that his city was “unsystematic”, but it was not until January 30, 1937, that Speer was officially put in charge of plans for the reshaping of Berlin, although he had been working on them unofficially in 1936.

The model of reshaped Berlin.The plan that Speer coordinated as ‘Inspector General of Construction’ (GBI) for the centre of Berlin was based on Roman, not Greek, planning principles, which might or might not have been influenced by Roman-derived town plans in Fascist Italy. Speer’s plan was to create a central north-south axis, which was to intersect the major east-west axis at right angles. On the north side of the junction a massive forum of about 350,000 square metres was planned, around which were to be situated buildings of the greatest political and physical dimensions: a vast domed Volkshalle on the north side, Hitler’s vast new palace and chancellery on the west side and part of the south side, and on the east side the new High Command of the German armed forces and the now-dwarfed pre-Nazi Reichstag. These buildings were to be placed in strong axial relationship around the forum designed to contain one million people, and were collectively to represent the “maiestas imperii” (The Majesty of the Empire) and make the new world capital, Germania, outshine its only avowed rival, Rome.

The plan for the centre of Berlin differed only in its dimensions from the plans drawn up for the reshaping of smaller German cities and for the establishment of new towns in conquered territories. The order for the reshaping of other German cities was signed by Hitler on October 4, 1937.

In each town, the new community buildings were not to be sited randomnly, but were to have prominent (usually central) positions within the town plan. The clarity, order and objectivity that Hitler aimed at in the layout of his towns and buildings were to be achieved in conquered territories in the East by founding new colonies and in Germany itself by reshaping the centres of already established towns and cities.[16] In order to provide a town with centrally located community centres, principles of town planning reminiscent of Greek, but more especially Roman, methods were revived.[17]

Nazi architecture was, both in appearance and symbolically, intimidating, an instrument of conquest. Total architecture was an extension of total war.[18] Speer wrote in 1978 “My architecture represented an intimidating display of power.”

The airport halls of Tempelhof International Airport built by Nazi architect Ernst Sagebiel are still known as the largest built entities worldwide.[citation needed] The colossal dimensions of Roman and Nazi buildings also served to emphasize the insignificance of the individual engulfed in the architectural vastness of a state building. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s reactions on visiting the Pont du Gard in 1737 produced in him the response that Hitler hoped for Berlin, to impress with its grandeur.

Architecture as religion
A major difference between the neoclassical state architecture of Nazi Germany and neoclassical architecture in other modern countries in Europe and America is that in Germany it was but one facet of a severely authoritarian state. Its dictator aimed to establish architectural order; gridiron town plans, axial symmetry, hierarchical placement of state structure within urban space on a scale intended to reinforce the social and political order desired by the Nazi state, which anticipated the displacement of Christian religion and ethical values by a new kind of worship based on the cult of Nazi martyrs and leaders and with a value system close to that of pre-Christian Rome. The first Nazi forum, Königsplatz, in Munich was planned in 1931-32 by Hitler and his architect Paul Ludwig Troost, whom Speer says Hitler regarded as the greatest German architect since Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Troost had already redecorated the interior of the so-called Brown House on Brienner Strasse in 1930 after its acquisition by the Nazi party (Lehmann-Haupt 113). Troost, who like his successor, Speer, aimed to revive an early classical or Doric architecture, could not have found a more encouraging context for his endeavours than the neo classical architectural setting of Königsplatz. However, like Hitler, he found Bauhaus architecture distasteful, the Ehrentempel he designed was not uninfluenced by modernist tendencies, in no respect were his temples conventionally Doric. In the summer of 1931 Troost prepared drawings for four party buildings that were to be erected at the east end of the forum, symmetrically placed along Arcisstrasse. The Nazi literature of the period leaves little doubt that this new forum was regarded as a sacred cult centre, which was even referred to as “Acropolis Germainiae.”

Priority was given to the erection of two “martyrs” temples of identical shape named the Ehrentempel, placed just to either side of the square’s long axis. The Ehrentempel were demolished in 1947.

In 1935, Hitler said the martyrs’ bodies were not to be buried out of sight in crypts, but should be placed in the open air, to act as eternal sentinels for the German nation. Hitler later insisted on this detail when Hermann Giesler planned the Volkshalle for Weimar’s forum. He asked his architect to ensure that the two crypts, which were to contain the bodies of Brown Shirts SA killed in Thuringia, which were to placed at the entrance to the Volksahlle, be lit by open oculi.[19] It is interesting too that later still 1940 Hitler asked Giesler to plan his own mausoleum in Munich in such a way that his sarcophagus would be exposed to sun and rain.[20] It is worth noting that in Hitler’s will of May 2, 1938, written the day before he left Germany for his state visit to Rome, Hitler instructed that his body was to be put in a coffin similar to that of the other martyrs and placed in the Ehrentempel next to the Führerbau.

Troost’s temples in Königsplatz were thus regarded as guard posts, a notion reinforced by the presence of SS sentinels who stood guard at the entrance of each temple. A year earlier Hitler had said that the blood of the martyrs was to be the baptismal water (Gr.Taufwasser) of the Third Reich. Such imagery perhaps disturbed devout Christians, yet it left no doubt that the cult of Nazi heroes was to replace the worship of Christian martyrs. This objective was demonstrated in another way: No Nazi forum planned for any German city was to incorporate a new church. Indeed, a cathedral (Gr.Quedlinburg) was turned into a shrine by the SS, who planned to treat the cathedrals of Brunswick and Strasbourg in the same way; in Munich a church was demolished to make way for new Nazi buildings.[21] Yet, overseas the impression was created that the building of new churches was an integral part of the new Nazi building program. Temples for martyrs were given pride of place, as at Königsplatz or, as at the Weimar forum, martyrs’ crypts at the entrance of the Volkshalle were given prominence.[22]

On September 6, 1938, Hitler made his position clear about the attitude of the Nazis toward religion. He said that in its purpose National Socialism had no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood relationship. He continued with the remark that Nazis had no rooms for worship but only halls for the people (that is, no churches, but Volkshallen) no open spaces for worship, but spaces for assemblies and parades (Gr.Aufmarschplätze). Nazis had no religious retreats, only sports arenas and playing fields (Gr.Stadia) and the characteristic feature of Nazi places of assembly was not the mystical gloom of a cathedral, but the brightness and light of a room or hall that combined beauty with fitness for its purpose. Three days prior to making this statement, which relates precisely to the functions of Nazi state building plans and types, Hitler had stated that worship for Nazis was exclusively the cultivation of the natural (that is, the Dionysiac). In addition, Alfred Rosenberg made it clear that Nazism and the Christian Church were incompatible.

However, Hitler’s model was that of a Roman Catholic Church. The mysticism of Christianity, created buildings with a mysterious gloom which made men more ready to submit to the renunciation of self.[23] Hitler was deeply impressed by the organization, ritual and architecture of the church. In writing of the spell which an orator can weave over an audience, Hitler stated:

“The same purpose is served by the artificial and yet mysterious twilight in Catholic churches.”[24]
He might have envied the powerful influence, which the church exerted on the masses, for on one occasion Hitler declared:

“the concluding meeting in Nuremberg must be exactly as solemnly and ceremonially performed as a service of the Catholic Church.”[25]
Whereas the Nazi buildings should reflect the devout spirit of the movement, there was no place for mysticism in them. Nazism was cool-headed and realistic. It mirrored scientific knowledge. It was not a religious cult. Hitler noted that the Nazi party had no religious retreats and no rooms for worship with the mystical gloom of the cathedral but rather halls for the Volk[26]

Thus, the huge Volkshalle was to dominate Berlin’s new forum and north-south axis, whereas at EUR the new Church of the Saints Paul and Peter dominated the new town’s decumanus. Its dome is the second largest in Rome after that of St. Peter’s Basilica, whereas the dome of Saint Peter’s would have fitted through the oculus in the dome of the Berlin Volkshalle. No two buildings could better illustrate the differences between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy with respect to Christian worship. Fascist Italy incorporated Rome of the Caesars and of the Popes. Nazi Germany espoused only the values of pagan Rome where Christians who flouted the cult of the emperor were penalized. The globe on the lantern of St. Peter’s Basilica is surmounted by a cross. The globe of the world, which was to be placed on the lantern of the Berlin Volkshalle, was firmly gripped in the talons of an imperial eagle, which were also Reichsadler and the attribute of Zeus / Jupiter. The political theme of a globe gripped by an eagle was rendered in bronze by the sculptor Ernst Andreas Rauch for the exhibition of art in the House of German Art in 1940.[27]

Not only were churches excluded from the new fora but also so was the town hall (Gr.Rathaus) since the mayor (Gr.Bürgermeister) yielded to the Führer as the representative of local community and nation. This was an essential feature of the leader principle (Gr.Füherprinzip).[28]

In the Nuremberg Party Rallies, leader and led met together and everyone was filled with wonder at the event, in one of Hitler’s Nuremberg speeches he stated, “Not every one of you sees me and I do not see every one of you. But I feel you and you feel me!.”[29]

A notable feature of these rallies was that they were often held at night with spectacular light effects, such as powerful search lights, creating pillars of white light many kilometres long around the perimeter of an assembly ground. The effect of such a contrivance was described as a “Cathedral of Light” (Gr. Lichtdom). The term is most appropriate, since Hitler had already stated in Mein Kampf[30] that the Church in its wisdom had studied the psychological appeal made upon worshippers by their surroundings: the use of artificially produced twilight casting its secret spell upon the congregation, as well as incense and burning candles. If the National Socialist speaker were to study the psychology of these effects, it would be beneficial. The lighting effects in Nuremberg, particularly at the Zeppelinfeld stadium, owed nothing to chance. The congregationalizing of Nazi souls in assembly buildings needed a suitable political framework to make it possible.

Theory of Ruin Value
The Theory of Ruin Value (Gr. Theorie vom Ruinenwert) was conceived by Albert Speer. The theory was an extension of Gottfried Semper’s views about using “natural” materials and the avoidance of iron girders. Speer’s memoirs reveal Hitler’s thoughts about Nazi state architecture in relation to Roman imperial architecture:

“Hitler liked to say that the purpose of his building was to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity. Ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture, he remarked. What then remained of the emperors of the Roman Empire? What would still give evidence of them today, if not their buildings […] So, today the buildings of the Roman empire could enable Mussolini to refer to the heroic spirit of Rome when he wanted to inspire his people with the idea of a modern imperium. Our buildings must also speak to the conscience of future generations of Germans. With this argument Hitler also underscored the value of a durable kind of construction.”
Hitler accordingly approved Speer’s recommendation that, in order to provide a “bridge to tradition” to future generations, modern “anonymous” materials such as steel girders and ferroconcrete should be avoided in the construction of monumental party buildings, since such materials would not produce aesthetically acceptable ruins like those wherever possible. Thus the most politically significant buildings of the Reich would to some extent even after falling into ruins after thousands of years, resemble their Roman models.[31] Speer expressed his views on the matter in the Four Year Plan of 1937 in his contribution Stone not Iron in which he published a photograph of the Parthenon with the subscript: “The stone buildings of antiquity demonstrate in their condition today the permanence of natural building materials.” Later, after saying modern buildings rarely last more than fifty years, he continues: “The ages-old stone buildings of the Egyptians and the Romans still stand today as powerful architectural proofs of the past of great nations, buildings which are often ruins only because man’s lust for destruction has made them such.” Hitler approved Speer’s “Law of Ruin Value” (Gr. Ruinengesetz) after Speer had shown him a sketch of the Haupttribüne as an ivy-covered ruin. The drawing pleased Hitler but scandalized his entourage.[32]

In Mein Kampf,[33] Hitler had stressed the need for increased expenditure on public buildings that in terms of durability and aesthetic appeal would match the opera publica of the ancient world.

However, the quarries of the Reich could not supply enough granite to build Hitler’s monuments. Consequently, vast quantities of granite and marble were ordered from quarries in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France and Italy[34]

After the total collapse of the Third Reich in 1945, one of Speer’s major state buildings, the new Chancellery in Berlin, did not become an aesthetic ruin but was treated like the monuments of ancient Rome, after its political collapse. For example the Russians in 1947 demolished the hated Machtzentrum of the Führer, the marble that had once decorated the representative rooms of the palace was reused to build a Russian war memorial in East Berlin’s Treptower Park and to construct the Thalmann-Platz metro station.[35]

Hitler’s mausoleum
During Hitler’s tour of Paris in June 1940 he visited Les Invalides, where he stood silently gazing upon Napoleon’s tomb. In the autumn of 1940 Hitler advised Giesler about the Pantheon and the mausoleum he wanted to build.

“Imagine to yourself, Giesler, if Napoleon’s sarcophagus were placed beneath a large oculus, like that of the Pantheon.”[36] He goes on to express an almost mystical delight in the thought that the sarcophagus would be exposed to darkness and light, rain and snow and thus be linked directly to the universe.

Thus, Hitler decided on a mausoleum the design of which was based on that of the Pantheon, not in its original function as a temple but in its later function as a tomb of the famous: Raphael, the kings Victor Emannuel II and Umberto I.[37]

The mausoleum was to be connected to the Halle der Partei at Munich by a bridge over Gabelsbergerstrasse, to become a party-political cult centre in the city regarded by Hitler as the home of the Nazi party. The dimensions were slightly smaller than the Pantheon. The oculus in the centre of the dome was to be one metre wider in diameter than that of the Pantheon (8.92 metres) to admit more light on Hitler’s sarcophagus, placed immediately under it on the floor of the rotunda. The modest dimensions of the structure and its lack of rich decoration are at first sight puzzling in light of Hitler’s predilection for gigantic dimensions, but in this case the focal point of the building was the Führer’s sarcophagus, which was not to be dwarfed by dimension out of all proportion to the size of the sarcophagus itself. Likewise, rich interior decoration would have distracted the attention of “pilgrims.” Giesler’s scale model of the building apparently pleased Hitler, but the model and plans, kept by Hitler in the Reichskanzlei, are now probably in the hands of the Russians or have been destroyed.[38] It was perhaps because Hitler was so pleased with the design of his own mausoleum that in late autumn 1940 he asked Giesler to design a mausoleum for his parents in Linz. Giesler gives no details of the structure, but it is clear from the photograph of his model that once more Hadrian’s Pantheon was the model.

Sculpture was used as part of, and in conjunction with, Nazi architecture to embody the “German Spirit” of divine destiny. Sculpture expressed the National Socialist obsession with the ideal body and espoused nationalistic, state approved values like loyalty, work, and family. Josef Thorak and Arno Breker were the most famous sculptors of the Nazi regime.

Arno Breker was in a certain sense both the best and the worst of the Nazi artists. Nominated as official state sculptor on Hitler’s birthday in 1937, his technique was excellent, and his choice of subject, poses, theme were outstanding. Breker uses his numerous “naked men with swords” to unite the notions of health, strength, competition, collective action and willingness to sacrifice the self for the common good seen in many other Nazi works with explicit glorification of militarism.

Labour and plunder
The number of skilled and unskilled workers required to erect Hitler’s increasingly gigantic buildings created a labour problem. When he assumed power in 1933, there were still many unemployed workers in Germany, some of whom were given work on public building schemes that Hitler thought would stimulate a sluggish German economy and at the same time provided him with popular propaganda “Hitler Creates Jobs” (Gr Hitler Schafft Arbeit). The majority of the unemployed were quickly absorbed by the armaments factories and not by the construction industry, as Nazi propaganda suggested.

However, the unemployed did not always thank Hitler for their employment; German workers employed on the building of the autobahns repeatedly went on strike from 1934 onward because of their atrocious working conditions, which led to graffiti such as “Adolf Hitler’s roads are built with the blood of German workers.” The Gestapo was ruthlessly used for strike-breaking and recalcitrant workers were sent to concentration camps on the assumption that they were Communists.

As preparations for war and later as the demands of war absorbed increasingly larger quantities of steel, concrete and manpower, the state building program slowed down to the point where in 1943 all work virtually came to a halt at the Nuremberg rally grounds.

New quarries within Germany and Austria were established by the SS, who set up concentration camps such as Mauthausen, Flossenbürg, Natzweiler and Gross-Rosen, where inmates were forced to quarry stone for Hitler’s buildings. The inmates were to be given minimal, low-cost diets, in which Himmler took a special interest. On March 23, 1942, Himmler asked Oswald Pohl “to gradually develop a diet which, like that of Roman soldiers or Egyptian slaves, contains all the vitamins and is simple and cheap.”

Plans were also made to import three million slavic peoples into Germany to work for twenty years on the Reich’s building sites. By May 1941 more than three million people were being forced to work in Germany and of these a third were prisoners of war and the rest of the people forcibly removed from conquered territories.

This use of forced slave labour and the massive expenditure of funds on buildings commissioned by an autocrat under no constraint to disclose or justify such an expenditure, invites comparison with Roman methods of paying for and erecting the opera publica.[45]

Rome’s vast state buildings, admired and envied by Hitler, could be built only because Roman imperialism over a period of centuries generated the wealth and made available the manpower to pay for and erect the structures that enhanced the “sovereign power of the Roman people or the emperor” (Lt Maiestas) and spread the propaganda of the emperor. In Rome public buildings were customarily paid for out of plunder (Lt Manubiae) derived from foreign wars. For example, Trajan’s vast forum was financed from booty derived from his Dacian wars. Julius Caesar’s grandiose building plans, partly put into effect after his death by Augustus, were made possible thanks to the plunder he had gained from his wars in Gaul. The acquisition of works of art for the embellishment of private and public buildings was also frequently based on plunder. Here one can point to the aftermath of the sack of Corinth by Lucius Mummius Achaicus in 146 B.C., when shiploads of art treasures were sent to Rome. So too Hitler “collected” works of art from all conquered territories for eventual exhibition in the vast gallery that was to have been built in Linz.[46]

The use of forced labour on building sites both in Rome and in the provinces was a normal Roman practice. Thus, buildings like the Congress Hall in Nuremberg and the Volkshalle in Berlin, inspired by the Colosseum and the Pantheon, respectively, were not merely symbols of tradition, order and reliability, but signaled a far more sinister intention on the part of the autocrat who commissioned them: a return to Roman ethics, which recognized the natural right of a conqueror to enslave conquered peoples in the most literal sense of the word, a right already made manifest even within the sphere of architecture by the creation of concentration camps, whose inmates were forced to quarry the stone for the Reich’s buildings.[47]

Thus, it seems clear that Hitler’s grandiose plans for the architectural embellishment of Berlin and Germany’s regional capitals could have been achieved only by using the same methods as those employed by the Romans: forcible acquisition of funds and forced labour.[48] This would have caused two distinct socio-demographic classes; those that are slave owners and those that are slaves.

Nazi Construction
Atlantic Wall or Atlantikwall
Brown House or Braunes Haus
Congress Hall
Deutsches Stadion
Flak Tower or Flakturm
Fränkischer Hof
German Air Ministry
Hall of Models
House of German Art or Haus der Kunst
Hitler Youth Clubhouse or Hitler-Jugend Heim
Jena Brücke
Königsplatz in Munich
Eagles Nest or Kehlsteinhaus
Nazi War Memorials
Nazi party rally grounds
Olympic Stadium, Berlin
Ordensburg Krössinsee
Ordensburg Sonthofen
Ordensburg Vogelsang
Reich Chancellery or Reichskanzlei
Tempelhof International Airport
Thingplatz or Thingstätte
Triumphal Arch
Zeppelin Field or Zeppelinfeld

Hitler’s builders
Bestelmeyer, German
Bonatz, Paul
Behrens, Peter
Brinkmann, Woldemar
Fick, Roderich
Fischer, Theodor
Gall, Leonhard
Giesler, Hermann
Grebe, Wilhelm
Höger, Fritz
Hönig, Eugen
Klotz, Clemens
Kreis, Wilhelm
March, Werner
Nonn, Konrad
Rosenberg, Alfred
Ruff, Ludwig
Ruff, Franz
Sagebiel, Ernst
Schmitthenner, Paul
Schulte-Frohlinde, Julius
Schultze-Naumburg, Paul
Senger, Alexander von
Speer, Albert
Todt, Fritz
Troost, Paul Ludwig
Wolters, Rudolf

Further reading

Baynes, Norman H. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, V1 & V2. London: Oxford University Press, 1942. V1 – ISBN 0-598-75893-3 V2 – ISBN 0-598-75894-1
Cowdery, Ray and Josephine. The New German Reichschancellery in Berlin 1938-1945
De Jaeger, Charles. The Linz File, New York: Henry Holt & Co, 1982. ISBN 0-03-061463-5.
Giesler, Hermann. Ein Anderer Hitler: Bericht Seines Architekten Erlebnisse, Gesprache, Reflexionen, 2nd Edition (Illustrated), Druffel, 1977. ISBN 3-8061-0820-X.
Helmer, Stephen. Hitler’s Berlin: The Speer Plans for Reshaping the Central City (Illustrated). Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8357-1682-1.
Hitler, Adolf. Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944: His Private Conversations, 3rd Edition. New York: Enigma Books, 2000. ISBN 1-929631-05-7.
Homze, Edward L. Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany. New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1967. ISBN 0-691-05118-6.
Jaskot, Paul. The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labor and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy. New York: Routledge, 2000.
Krier, Leon. Albert Speer Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989. ISBN 2-87143-006-3.
Lärmer, Karl. Autobahnbau in Deutschland 1933 bis 1945. Berlin: 1975.
Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut. Art under a Dictatorship (Illustrated). New York: Octagon Books, 1973. ISBN 0-374-94896-8.
Lehrer, Steven. The Reich Chancellery and Fuhrerbunker Complex
Petsch, Joachim. Baukunst Und Stadtplanung Im Dritten Reich: Herleitung, Bestandsaufnahme, Entwicklung, Nachfolge (Illustrated). C. Hanser, 1976. ISBN 3-446-12279-6.
Rittich, Werner, Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart, published by Rembrandt-Verlag G.M.B.H., Berlin, 1938
Schönberger, Angela. Die Neue Reichskanzlei Von Albert Speer, Berlin: Mann, 1981. ISBN 3-7861-1263-0.
Scobie, Alexander. Hitler’s State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-271-00691-9.
Schmitz, Matthias. A Nation Builds: Contemporary German Architecture. New York: German Library of Information, 1940.
Speer, Albert. Inside The Third Reich. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1970. ISBN 0-02-037500-X.
Spotts, Frederic. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 2002. ISBN 1-58567-345-5
Taylor, Robert. Word in Stone: The Role of Architecture in the National Socialist Ideology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974. ISBN 0-520-02193-2.
Thies, Jochen. Hitlers Stadte: Baupolitik Im Dritten Reich E. Dokumentation (Illustrated). Wird verschickt aus, Germany: Böhlau Köln, 1978. ISBN 3-412-03477-0.
Thies, Jochen. Architekt der Weltherrschaft. Die Endziele Hitlers. 1982. ISBN 3-7700-0425-6.
Zoller, Albert von. Hitler privat, 1949. ISBN B0000BPY63.

Goebbels, Joseph. Hitler’s Constructions/Die Bauten von Adolf Hitler (propaganda film), International Historic Films, 1938.

This propaganda film shows the varieties of National Socialist constructions: youth hostels and party schools, bridge projects and the Autobahn, ministries and party buildings, as well as the famous monumental works, such as the Zeppelinfeld at Nuremberg. German language, English subtitles; , 17 minutes.

Cohen, Peter. The Architecture of Doom, First Run Features, 1991.

This film analyzes the aesthetic’s created and evisioned by Adolf Hitler and the top echelon of the Third Reich. Using never-before-seen footage, the film attempts to shed light on the Nazis obsession with concepts of order and stability borrowed from ancient Greece and Rome. The film also attempts to show how the Nazi aesthetic led to the banning of such modern artists as Picasso. This disturbing film documents the Nazi philosophy of beauty through violence, highlighting Hitler’s views on culture, art and architecture. Includes exclusive archival footage of the last days of the Third Reich, with film shot inside Hitler’s bunker.

Kiefer, Kent. Ruins of the Third Reich, Kiefer Entertainment, 2005.

This film was shot in 1947 by an American industrialist and covers the destruction of the Third Reich in World War II. Many of the Nazi Party’s most sacred and important sites appear in this film in total ruins. Included is rare and never before seen footage of Hitler’s bunker, the Reich Chancellery, Hitler’s office, Nuremberg rally sites and much more. Included is footage of Goebbels residence after being partially destroyed by Russian gunfire, Luftwaffe Administrative Headquarters (Post War American Military Government H.Q.), the Reichstag and the 1870 Victory Column that Hitler had raised by 30 feet (9 meters). Also seen is the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Summer Olympics took place, the Krupp Steelworks in Essen, the former Krupp Estate (British Administrative H.Q.), the ruins of Cologne, a trip up the Rhine, the Nuremberg Palace of Justice and the Munich beer garden Burger Brau Keller where Hitler’s career began. This film is a fascinating historical document and time capsule depicting the aftermath of Germany’s destruction in World War II.


Post War Stripped Classical

23 Nov
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York. Philip Johnson, 1960. Mies van der Rohe Crown Hall  Illinois Institute of Technology Eliel Saarinen in his art gallery at Cranbrook, Michigan
National Library, Parkes Place West, Parkes, ACT. Bunfling & Madden,1964. A contemporary derivation in the spirit of Graeco-Roman architecture. The Woodland Cemetery, Stockholm, Sweden.  
The flame of classicism has burned for two-and-a- half thousand years in the architecture of Western civilisation. Sometimes it has burned brightly, sometimes dimly, but it has never been extinguished. The flame was very low during the period following World War II. Traditionally inclined architects who had survived from the prewar decades had little opportunity to ply their classical trade in the austere years of the 1940s and early 1950s, when classicism was regarded as an irrelevant, unaffordable luxury. The flickering torch of classicism was carried by Mies van der Rohe in his elegantly sparse buildings on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology and by Eliel Saarinen in his art gallery at Cranbrook, Michigan. In Australia, as elsewhere, modernism was making its impact, and symmetry—the hallmark of classicism—was avoided like the plague by ‘progressive’ architects.
Surprisingly, the Stripped Classical style made a comeback in the early 1960s. The American architect Philip Johnson, who had helped to coin the term ‘International style’ in the 1930s, gave notice that he was bored with mainstream modernism when he (with Max Abramovitz and Wallace K. Harrison) designed New York’s cultural hub, the Lincoln Center, in the form of three ultrasimplified, colonnaded, flat-roofed, ‘classical temples’ arranged around a formal, rectangular plaza. The Lincoln Center did not exactly set off a world-wide avalanche of stripped classicism, but it seemed to legitimise occasional essays in the idiom by less well-known architects. (Philip Johnson was heavily influenced by Italian Fascist design).
In Australia, the Stripped Classical style won national prominence with the completion in 1968 of Walter Bunning’s National Library in Canberra’s ‘parliamentary triangle’ between Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin. Bunning claimed that his marble-clad, colonnaded, rectangular prism had affinities with the Parthenon.
Buildings in the Late Twentieth-Century Stripped Classical style are static rather than dynamic, and they show no vestiges of classical detail. The classical qualities that remain are those of predictability, symmetry, a strongly repetitive rhythm of columns or column-like elements, and a reliance on carefully considered proportions.

Stripped Classical

23 Nov
Sydney University Tennis Pavilion
Old Parliament House, Canberra; opened 1927 AMP building in Albury, New South Wales
To the architect committed to modernism in the early twentieth century, radical art movements such as Cubism and de Stiji provided powerful aesthetic stimuli, exploding traditional preoccupations with static symmetry. Any ‘style’ was considered abhorrent, none more so than a classical style (modernism was naïvely thought to be style- free). ‘Sterile symmetry’, ‘meaningless, nonfunctional ornament’ and other such derogatory phrases were used to denigrate buildings that made reference to any aspect of the classical past. The fact that some significant modern architects (for example, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Peter Behrens and Gunnar Asplund) had drawn strength from the classical tradition was ignored or explained away as an aberration which had somehow been corrected or eliminated.

Architects not at the centre of the new movement but vaguely sympathetic to some of its apparent aims sometimes responded by embracing ‘simplicity’, which usually meant starting with a basically classical carcass and omitting or reducing the ornament. An Inter-War Stripped Classical building therefore tends to look like an INTER-WAR ACADEMIC CLASSICAL building from which the columns, entablatures and pediments have been peeled off or (which really amounts to the same thing) a starkly functional, symmetrical building to which the classical orders could easily be added. Rarely, however, was ornament completely eschewed, and a few touches of Art Deco were not uncommon.

The Stripped Classical style was often used in America and Britain for public and institutional buildings which in earlier times would have worn the full panoply of classical detail. While there is no evidence that practitioners of the style were more attracted to extreme right-wing politics than were architects who favoured other styles, it may be noted that both Hitler and Mussolini found the idiom very palatable for public buildings glorifying their regimes.

Well before the rise to power of the two European dictators just mentioned, Australia had already committed itself to an Inter-War Stripped Classical ‘temporary’ Parliament House in Canberra. The clarity of shape, the regular composition, the dazzling whiteness and the pleasantly human scale of this building make it a success story in Australian public architecture which deserves greater acknowledgement than it has received.


Regency / Federal Revival Architecture

18 Nov
UNITED STATES COURTHOUSE ANNEX CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY. A very institutional, post-modern take on Federal Revival. Surviving Railroad Depots of America > Davenport, Iowa Depot, Union Station. Stripped classical. Federal Revival (usually brick)
Georgian Revival Style Federal Greek Revival A new Federal Revival home, West Newbury, MA
Federal Revival Style

Federalist architecture has its roots in England. It was favored in America during the late 1700s and early 1800s, although you’ll see Federalist details in many homes today. Characteristics:

— Large and graceful two-story brick with massive chimneys
— Centered front door often sheltered by a portico and topped with a fan-shaped transom light
— Dentil moldings in the cornice and fan-shape or elliptical gable windows
— Palladian windows
— Oval rooms and recessed wall niches

Georgian Revival Style

The Georgian style is often confused with Federal. Georgian homes were popular in the U.S. from about 1715 to 1780 and are more angular than Federal. Characteristics:

— Brick or wood sided, symmetrical and square in shape
— Centered front door, often with flattened columns on each side and a decorative crown above
— Medium-pitched roof with a chimney on each end
— Minimal roof overhang
— Five double-hung windows or dormers across the front with 9 or 12 panes in each sash

Greek Revival Style

By the mid-1800s, Americans identified more with Grecian architecture than British. Greek Revival mansions became common, especially in the South. Characteristics:

— Square, with tall double-hung windows on each side
— Shallow-pitched roof
— Front-facing columned portico, usually supporting a triangular pediment
— White clapboard exterior
— Decorative pilasters
— Dentil moldings and a heavy cornice

Regency Revival

A mode of Revival architecture, found to a limited extent in America in the 1930s, that borrowed features of its Georgian and Regency style prototypes; usually two stories high with a hipped roof; had brick walls with quoins at the corners and sometimes at the main entrance, often painted white; double-hung windows with shutters; an entrance porch; and, typically, a small octagonal window above the door.

Stalinist Architecture- Regional varieties

24 Nov

Regional varieties

Soviet Embassy (1952), Helsinki.

The national republics of the USSR were entitled to develop their own Stalinist styles, with more or less freedom. When local forces were not enough, Russian architects were summoned (Shchusev designed an oriental-looking theater in Tashkent, etc.). Alexander Tamanian, appointed as the chief architect of Yerevan, is largely responsible for the Armenian variety of Stalinist architecture. Stalinist architecture was, from around 1948 to 1956, employed in the post-war Eastern Bloc ‘People’s Democracies’, usually after defeating internal Modernist opposition. This would sometimes show certain local influences, though was frequently regarded as a Soviet import.


Warsaw Palace of Culture

Lev Rudnev’s Warsaw Palace of Culture, which was dubbed a ‘gift from the Soviet people’, was perhaps the most controversial of the importations of Stalinist architecture. This vast, skyscraping tower, which is still the fourth largest building in the European Union, entirely dominated the city. However an earlier exercise in Neoclasssicism was the large MDM Boulevard, which was developed in parallel with the faithful reconstruction of the old town centre. MDM was a typical Stalinist ‘Magistrale’, with the generous width of the street often rumoured to be for the purposes of tank movements. The New Town of Nowa Huta outside Krakow was also planned in Stalinist style in the late 1940s.

East Germany

Strausberger Platz, Berlin

After the Soviet Victory over Nazi Germany, various grandiose war memorials were built in Berlin, including one in the Tiergarten (using marble taken from Albert Speer’s Reich Chancellery) and another, larger one in Treptow. The first major Stalinist building in Germany was the Soviet embassy in Unter den Linden. This was initially mocked by Modernists such as Hermann Henselmann, and until around 1948, East Berlin’s city planning (under the direction of Hans Scharoun) was Modernist, as in the galleried apartments that made up the first part of a planned Stalinallee. However the government condemned these experiments and adopted the Russian style, and the rest of the Stalinallee was designed by Henselmann and former Modernists like Richard Paulick in what was disrespectfully dubbed zuckerbackerstil (‘wedding cake style’). Similar, if less grandiose, monuments were designed in other cities, such as the new town of Stalinstadt.

Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Hungary

Casa Scânteii, Bucharest

Former Party House, Sofia, Bulgaria

Central buildings built in the overwhelming Stalinist manner also included the Casa Scânteii in Romania and the complex of the Largo, Sofia, in Bulgaria. These were all pre-1953 projects, even if some were finished after Stalin’s death. There were fewer examples in Czechoslovakia, although the Modernist architects and theorists such as Karel Teige were hounded, while statues to Stalin were designed, one of the most grandiose of which was in Prague. In Hungary a Stalinist style was adopted in the town of Sztalinvaros. As in the USSR, Modernism returned in much of Eastern Europe after the mid-1950s, although there were exceptions to this in the most authoritarian regimes: the enormous Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest is a very late example of neoclassicism, begun as late as 1984 and completed in 1990, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu in 1989.

City Hall, Tblisis, Georgia, 1980

Other Areas
In East Asia, some examples may be found in North Korea and China, e.g., the Shanghai Exhibition Center, originally built as the Palace of Sino-Soviet Friendship. Stalinist styles were used in the design of Soviet embassies outside of the Eastern Bloc, notably the embassy (1952) in Helsinki, Finland. The building, designed by architect E.S.Grebenshthikov, has a certain resemblance to Buckingham Palace in London; this is said to be due to the then Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov’s liking for the official residence of the British monarch.

Folding down (1948-1955)
A switch from Stalinist architecture to standard prefabricated concrete is usually associated with Khruschev’s reign and in particular the November 1955 decree On liquidation of excesses … (November, 1955).[30] Indeed, Khruschev was involved in cost-cutting campaign, but it began in 1948, while Stalin was alive and active. A turn to mass construction is evident in economy Stalinist buildings like Zholtovsky’s Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya, 7. Based on masonry, they provided only a marginal gain; there had to be a technology breakthrough. In 1948-1955, various architectural offices conduct an enormous feasibility study, devising and testing new technologies.[31]

Frame-and-panel experiment (1948-1952)

Lagutenko-Posokhin block, Moscow, 1948-1952. Looks like masonry but is in fact a prefab-concrete frame with concrete panel skin

In 1947, engineer Vitaly Lagutenko was appointed to lead the experimental Industrial Construction Bureau, with an objective to study and design the low-cost technology suitable for fast mass construction. Lagutenko focused on large prefabricated concrete panes. He joined rising architects Mikhail Posokhin (Sr.)[32] and Ashot Mndoyants, and in 1948 this team built their first concrete frame-and-panel building near present-day Polezhaevskaya metro station. Four identical buildings followed nearby; similar buildings where built in 1949-1952 across the country.[33] This was still an experiment, not backed by industrial capacity or fast-track project schedules. Posokhin also devised various pseudo-Stalinist configurations of the same building blocks, with decorative excesses; these didn’t materialize. Concrete frames became common in industrial construction, but too expensive for mass housing.

January, 1951: Moscow Conference
It is not known for sure which Party leader personally initiated the drive to cut costs. The need was imminent. What is known is that in January, 1951, Khrushchev – then City of Moscow party boss – hosted a professional conference on construction problems.[34] The conference decreed a transition to plant-made, large-sized concrete parts, building new plants for prefab concrete and other materials, and replacement of wet masonry technology with fast assembly of prefab elements. The industry still had to decide – should they use big, story-high panels, or smaller ones, or maybe two-story panels, as Lagutenko tried in Kuzminki[35]? Basic technology was set, feasibility studies continued. A year later, this line of action – setting up prefab concrete plants – was made a law by the XIX Party Congress, Stalin attending. Major public buildings and elite housing were not affected yet.

Peschanaya Square (1951-1955)

Rosenfeld’s Peschanaya Street project, Moscow, 1951-1955. Masonry, with prefab concrete exterior details

A different line of experiments tackled improvement of project management, switching from a single-building to a multi-block project scale. This was tested live during the Peschanaya Square development (a territory north from 1948 Posokhin-Lagutenko block). Using flow methode[36] of moving crews through a chain of buildings in different completion stages, and a moderate application of prefab concrete on otherwise traditional masonry, builders managed to complete typical 7-story buildings in 5-6 months.[37] Instead of wet stucco (which caused at least two months delay), these buildings are finished in open brickwork outside and drywall inside; and from a quality of life viewpoint, these are true – and the last – Stalinist buildings.

The end of Stalinist Architecture (November 1955)
When Stalin was alive, luxury empire and mass construction coexisted; support for Lagutenko did not mean demise for Rybitsky. It changed in November, 1954, when critics openly bashed the excesses and the will to build 10-14 story buildings, Stalin’s own will; according to Khmelnitsky,[38] this had to be triggered by Khruschev personally. For the next year, the campaign grows, preparing public to a formal farewell with stalinism.

Decree On liquidation of excesses… (November 4, 1955) provides some data on the cost of Stalinist excesses, estimated at 30-33% of total costs. Certainly, these examples were carefully hand-picked, but they are reasonable. Alexey Dushkin and Yevgeny Rybitsky received a special beating for triple cost overruns and luxurious floorplans; Rybitsky and Polyakov were stripped of their Stalin prizes. This was followed with specific orders to develop standardized designs and install an Institute of Standardized Buildings in place of the former Academy.[30]

Stalinist architecture agonized for five more years – work on old buildings was not a top priority anymore. Some were redesigned from scratch; some, structurally complete, lost all the excesses. The story ended with completion of Hotel Ukrayina (Kiev) in 1961.

The majestic Stalinallee in Berlin, also completed in 1961, was conceived in 1952, and didn’t have too much to lose: the scale and bulk of these buildings are definitely Stalinist, but the modest finishes lean to Jugendstil and Prussian Neoclassicism. The street would later be extended in an International Style idiom and renamed Karl-Marx-Allee.

Legacy and Revival

GALS Tower, Tverskaya Street

Certain buildings of the Brezhnev era, notably the White House of Russia, can be traced to Stalin’s legacy, while the Neo-Stalinist regime in Romania produced a vast, late example of the style in its Palace of the Parliament, which was started in 1984. Deliberate recreations of his style have appeared in Moscow since 1996, either as infill into period neighborhoods, or as stand-alone developments. Some lean to pure Neoclassical or Art Deco; with a few exceptions, their architectural quality and role in urban development is disputed. Examples of the least controversial kind are:

Triumph Palace in Moscow, known as the eighth sister, is one of the most prominent buildings, with a silhouette identical to the Stalinist constructions.
Roman Court (Римский Двор, 2005) by Mikhail Filippov; probably better classified as a neoclassical fantasy, yet related to early Stalinist buildings[39]
GALS Tower (Cистема ГАЛС, 2001) by a team of Workshop 14 architects fills a gap between midrise period buildings on Tverskaya. Not intended to dominate the neighborhood, it just marks the corner of a block. Despite mixed citations from Art Nouveau and Art Deco, it blends well with its Tverskaya setting[40]
Preobrazhenskaya Zastava (Преображенская Застава, 2003) is a whole block (308 apartments and retail stores) designed in early 1930s style approaching the Art Deco adaptations by of Iofan and Vladimirov. An unusual example which actually looks like a period piece, not a modern replica.

See also

Architecture of The Stalin Era, by Alexei Tarkhanov (Collaborator), Sergei Kavtaradze (Collaborator), Mikhail Anikst (Designer), 1992, ISBN 978-08-4781-473-2
Architecture in the Age of Stalin: Culture Two, by Vladimir Paperny (Author), John Hill (Translator), Roann Barris (Translator), 2002, ISBN 978-05-2145-119-2
The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World, by Deyan Sudjic, 2004, ISBN 978-15-9420-068-7

Futurist architecture

23 Nov
Perspective drawing from La Citta Nuova, 1914, by Antonia Sant’Elia. A perspective drawing by Sant’Elia, 1914  
Futurist architecture (or Futurism) began as an early-20th century form of architecture characterized by anti-historicism and long horizontal lines suggesting speed, motion and urgency. Technology and even violence were among the themes of the Futurists. The movement was founded by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who produced its first manifesto, the Manifesto of Futurism in 1909. The movement attracted not only poets, musicians, and artists (such as Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Fortunato Depero, and Enrico Prampolini) but also a number of architects. The latter group included Antonio Sant’Elia, who, though he built little, translated the Futurist vision into bold urban form.
Antonio Sant’Elia

Antonio Sant’Elia (April 30, 1888 – October 10, 1916) was an Italian architect.


He was born in Como, Lombardy. A builder by training, he opened a design office in Milan in 1912 and became involved with the Futurist movement. Between 1912 and 1914, influenced by industrial cities of the United States and the Viennese architects Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, he began a series of design drawings for a futurist Città Nuova (“New City”) that was conceived as symbolic of a new age.

Many of these drawings were displayed at the only exhibition of the Nuove Tendenze group (of which he was a member) exhibition in May/June 1914 at the “Famiglia Artistica” gallery. Today, some of these drawings are on permanent display at Como’s art gallery (Pinacoteca). (They used to be in the Villa Olmo)

The manifesto Futurist Architecture was published in August 1914, supposedly by Sant’Elia, though this is subject to debate. In it the author stated that “the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials”[citation needed]. As described in this manifesto, his designs featured bold groupings and large-scale disposition of planes and masses creating a heroic industrial expressionism. His vision was for a highly industrialised and mechanized city of the future, which he saw not as a mass of individual buildings but a vast, multi-level, interconnected and integrated urban conurbation designed around the “life” of the city. His extremely influential designs featured vast monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied the sheer excitement of modern architecture and technology.

A socialist as well as an irredentist, Sant’Elia joined the Italian army as Italy entered World War I in 1915. He was killed during the Battles of the Isonzo, near Monfalcone. Most of his designs were never built, but his futurist vision has influenced many architects, artists and designers.


Manifesto of Futurist Architecture


Antonio Sant’Elia
No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.

And so this expressive and synthetic art has become in their hands a vacuous stylistic exercise, a jumble of ill-mixed formulae to disguise a run-of-the-mill traditionalist box of bricks and stone as a modern building. As if we who are accumulators and generators of movement, with all our added mechanical limbs, with all the noise and speed of our life, could live in streets built for the needs of men four, five or six centuries ago.

This is the supreme imbecility of modern architecture, perpetuated by the venal complicity of the academies, the internment camps of the intelligentsia, where the young are forced into the onanistic recopying of classical models instead of throwing their minds open in the search for new frontiers and in the solution of the new and pressing problem: the Futurist house and city. The house and the city that are ours both spiritually and materially, in which our tumult can rage without seeming a grotesque anachronism.

The problem posed in Futurist architecture is not one of linear rearrangement. It is not a question of finding new moldings and frames for windows and doors, of replacing columns, pilasters and corbels with caryatids, flies and frogs. Neither has it anything to do with leaving a façade in bare brick, or plastering it, or facing it with stone or in determining formal differences between the new building and the old one. It is a question of tending the healthy growth of the Futurist house, of constructing it with all the resources of technology and science, satisfying magisterially all the demands of our habits and our spirit, trampling down all that is grotesque and antithetical (tradition, style, aesthetics, proportion), determining new forms, new lines, a new harmony of profiles and volumes, an architecture whose reason for existence can be found solely in the unique conditions of modern life, and in its correspondence with the aesthetic values of our sensibilities. This architecture cannot be subjected to any law of historical continuity. It must be new, just as our state of mind is new.

The art of construction has been able to evolve with time, and to pass from one style to another, while maintaining unaltered the general characteristics of architecture, because in the course of history changes of fashion are frequent and are determined by the alternations of religious conviction and political disposition. But profound changes in the state of the environment are extremely rare, changes that unhinge and renew, such as the discovery of natural laws, the perfecting of mechanical means, the rational and scientific use of material. In modern life the process of stylistic development in architecture has been brought to a halt. Architecture now makes a break with tradition. It must perforce make a fresh start.

Calculations based on the resistance of materials, on the use of reinforced concrete and steel, exclude “architecture” in the classical and traditional sense. Modern constructional materials and scientific concepts are absolutely incompatible with the disciplines of historical styles, and are the principal cause of the grotesque appearance of “fashionable” buildings in which attempts are made to employ the lightness, the superb grace of the steel beam, the delicacy of reinforced concrete, in order to obtain the heavy curve of the arch and the bulkiness of marble.

The utter antithesis between the modern world and the old is determined by all those things that formerly did not exist. Our lives have been enriched by elements the possibility of whose existence the ancients did not even suspect. Men have identified material contingencies, and revealed spiritual attitudes, whose repercussions are felt in a thousand ways. Principal among these is the formation of a new ideal of beauty that is still obscure and embryonic, but whose fascination is already felt even by the masses. We have lost our predilection for the monumental, the heavy, the static, and we have enriched our sensibility with a taste for the light, the practical, the ephemeral and the swift. We no longer feel ourselves to be the men of the cathedrals, the palaces and the podiums. We are the men of the great hotels, the railway stations, the immense streets, colossal ports, covered markets, luminous arcades, straight roads and beneficial demolitions.

We must invent and rebuild the Futurist city like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, agile, mobile and dynamic in every detail; and the Futurist house must be like a gigantic machine. The lifts must no longer be hidden away like tapeworms in the niches of stairwells; the stairwells themselves, rendered useless, must be abolished, and the lifts must scale the lengths of the façades like serpents of steel and glass. The house of concrete, glass and steel, stripped of paintings and sculpture, rich only in the innate beauty of its lines and relief, extraordinarily “ugly” in its mechanical simplicity, higher and wider according to need rather than the specifications of municipal laws. It must soar up on the brink of a tumultuous abyss: the street will no longer lie like a doormat at ground level, but will plunge many stories down into the earth, embracing the metropolitan traffic, and will be linked up for necessary interconnections by metal gangways and swift-moving pavements.

 The decorative must be abolished. The problem of Futurist architecture must be resolved, not by continuing to pilfer from Chinese, Persian or Japanese photographs or fooling around with the rules of Vitruvius, but through flashes of genius and through scientific and technical expertise. Everything must be revolutionized. Roofs and underground spaces must be used; the importance of the façade must be diminished; issues of taste must be transplanted from the field of fussy moldings, finicky capitals and flimsy doorways to the broader concerns of bold groupings and masses, and large-scale disposition of planes. Let us make an end of monumental, funereal and commemorative architecture. Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.


1.All the pseudo-architecture of the avant-garde, Austrian, Hungarian, German and American;

2.All classical architecture, solemn, hieratic, scenographic, decorative, monumental, pretty and pleasing;

3.The embalming, reconstruction and reproduction of ancient monuments and palaces;

4.Perpendicular and horizontal lines, cubical and pyramidical forms that are static, solemn, aggressive and absolutely excluded from our utterly new sensibility;

5.The use of massive, voluminous, durable, antiquated and costly materials.

1.That Futurist architecture is the architecture of calculation, of audacious temerity and of simplicity; the architecture of reinforced concrete, of steel, glass, cardboard, textile fiber, and of all those substitutes for wood, stone and brick that enable us to obtain maximum elasticity and lightness;

2.That Futurist architecture is not because of this an arid combination of practicality and usefulness, but remains art, i.e. synthesis and expression;

3.That oblique and elliptic lines are dynamic, and by their very nature possess an emotive power a thousand times stronger than perpendiculars and horizontals, and that no integral, dynamic architecture can exist that does not include these;

4.That decoration as an element superimposed on architecture is absurd, and that the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials;

5.That, just as the ancients drew inspiration for their art from the elements of nature, we—who are materially and spiritually artificial—must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created, and of which architecture must be the most beautiful expression, the most complete synthesis, the most efficacious integration;

6.That architecture as the art of arranging forms according to pre-established criteria is finished;

7.That by the term architecture is meant the endeavor to harmonize the environment with Man with freedom and great audacity, that is to transform the world of things into a direct projection of the world of the spirit;

8.From an architecture conceived in this way no formal or linear habit can grow, since the fundamental characteristics of Futurist architecture will be its impermanence and transience. Things will endure less than us. Every generation must build its own city. This constant renewal of the architectonic environment will contribute to the victory of Futurism which has already been affirmed by words-in-freedom, plastic dynamism, music without quadrature and the art of noises, and for which we fight without respite against traditionalist cowardice.

Dutch Baroque Architecture

17 Jun
Louis Styles Amsterdam Town Hall (1646) Maastricht Town Hall (1658)
Huis ten Bosch Mauritshuis Het Loo
Dutch Baroque is a variety of Baroque architecture that flourished in the Dutch Republic and its colonies during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century.

Like contemporary developments in England, Dutch Palladianism is marked by sobriety and restraint. The architecture of the first republic in Northern Europe was meant to reflect democratic values by quoting extensively from classical antiquity. Two leading architects, Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post, used such eclectic elements as giant-order pilasters, gable roofs, central pediments, and vigorous steeples in a coherent combination that anticipated Wren’s Classicism.

The most ambitious constructions of the period included the seats of self-government in Amsterdam (1646) and Maastricht (1658), designed by Campen and Post, respectively. On the other hand, the residences of the House of Orange are closer to a typical burgher mansion than to a royal palace. Two of these, Huis ten Bosch and Mauritshuis, are symmetrical blocks with large windows, stripped of ostentatious Baroque flourishes and mannerisms. The same austerely geometrical effect is achieved without great cost or pretentious effects at the stadholder’s summer residence of Het Loo.

The Dutch Republic was one of the great powers of 17th-century Europe and its influence on European architecture was by no means negligible. Dutch architects were employed on important projects in Northern Germany, Scandinavia and Russia, disseminating their ideas in those countries. The Dutch colonial architecture, once flourishing in the Hudson River Valley and associated primarily with red-brick gabled houses, may still be seen in Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles.

French Baroque Architecture

17 Jun

Château de Maisons near Paris: François Mansart, 1642.

Vaux-le-Vicomte near Paris: Louis Le Vau and André Le Nôtre, 1661.

French Baroque is a form of Baroque architecture that evolved in France during the reigns of Louis XIII (1610-43), Louis XIV (1643-1714) and Louis XV (1714-74). French Baroque profoundly influenced 18th-century secular architecture throughout Europe.

Although the open three wing layout of the palace was established in France as the canonical solution as early as the 16th century, it was the Palais du Luxembourg (1615-20) by Salomon de Brosse that determined the sober and classicizing direction that French Baroque architecture was to take. For the first time, the corps de logis was emphasized as the representative main part of the building, while the side wings were treated as hierarchically inferior and appropriately scaled down. The medieval tower has been completely replaced by the central projection in the shape of a monumental three-storey gateway.

De Brosse’s melding of traditional French elements (e.g., lofty mansard roofs and complex roofline) with extensive Italianate quotations (e.g., ubiquitous rustication, derived from Palazzo Pitti in Florence) came to characterize the Louis XIII style. Probably the most accomplished formulator of the new manner was François Mansart, a tireless perfectionist credited with introducing the full Baroque to France. In his design for Château de Maisons (1642), Mansart succeeded in reconciling academic and baroque approaches, while demonstrating respect for the gothic-inherited idiosyncrasies of the French tradition.

Maisons-Laffitte illustrates the ongoing transition from the post-medieval chateaux of the sixteenth century to the villa-like country houses of the eighteenth. The structure is strictly symmetrical, with an order applied to each story, mostly in pilaster form. The frontispiece, crowned with a separate aggrandized roof, is infused with remarkable plasticity and the whole ensemble reads like a three-dimensional whole. Mansart’s structures are stripped of overblown decorative effects, so typical of contemporary Rome. Italian Baroque influence is muted and relegated to the field of decorative ornamentation.

The next step in the development of European residential architecture involved the integration of the gardens in the composition of the palace, as is exemplified by Vaux-le-Vicomte (1656-61), where the architect Louis Le Vau, the designer Charles Le Brun and the gardener André Le Nôtre complemented each other. From the main cornice to a low plinth, the miniature palace is clothed in the so-called “colossal order”, which makes the structure look more impressive. The creative collaboration of Le Vau and Le Nôtre marked the arrival of the “Magnificent Manner” which allowed to extend Baroque architecture outside the palace walls and transform the surrounding landscape into an immaculate mosaic of expansive vistas.

St. Louis des Invalides, Paris: Jules Hardouin Mansart, 1676.

The same three artists scaled this concept to monumental proportions in the royal hunting lodge and later main residence at Versailles (1661-1690). On a far grander scale, the palace is a hypertrophied and somewhat repetitive version of Vaux-le-Vicomte. It was both the most grandiose and the most imitated residential building of the 17th century. Mannheim, Nordkirchen and Drottningholm were among many foreign residences for which Versailles provided a model.

The final expansion of Versailles was superintended by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, whose key design is the Dome des Invalides (1676-1706), generally regarded as the most important French church of the century. Hardouin-Mansart profited from his uncle’s instruction and plans to instill the edifice with an imperial grandeur unprecedented in the countries north of Italy. The majestic hemispherical dome balances the vigorous vertical thrust of the orders, which do not accurately convey the structure of the interior. The younger architect not only revived the harmony and balance associated with the work of the elder Mansart but also set the tone for Late Baroque French architecture, with its grand ponderousness and increasing concessions to academicism.

The Régence and the early reign of Louis XV saw a reaction against the official style that had been perfected in Hardouin-Mansart’s Bâtiments du Roi, which took the shape of the rococo’s more delicate and intimate manner, largely limited to interiors and works of decorative arts. The style, which softened then dissolved architectural elements in interiors, was pioneered by Nicolas Pineau, who collaborated with Hardouin-Mansart on the interiors of the royal Château de Marly. Further elaborated after Mansart’s death in 1706 by Pierre Le Pautre and then, more forcefully by Gilles-Marie Oppendordt and Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, the “genre pittoresque” culminated in the interiors of the Petit Château at Chantilly (c. 1722) and Germain Boffrand’s interiors at the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris (c. 1732), where a fashionable emphasis on the atectonic and curvilinear went beyond all reasonable measure. Sculpture, paintings, furniture, and porcelain tended to overshadow architectural divisions of the interior. The classical tradition in French architecture was never overwhelmed, however, and the reaction in favor of classicism began as early as the 1740s in the Académie, in the atelier of Giovanni Niccolo Servandoni and among the young pensionnaires at the French Academy in Rome.

Henry A. Millon (ed.), The Triumph of the Baroque: Architecture in Europe, 1600–1750 (1999).
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Baroque Architecture

17 Jun

Baroque architecture, starting in the early 17th century in Italy, took the humanist Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical, theatrical, sculptural fashion, expressing the triumph of absolutist church and state. New architectural concerns for color, light and shade, sculptural values and intensity characterize the Baroque. But whereas the Renaissance drew on the wealth and power of the Italian courts, and was a blend of secular and religious forces, the Baroque was, initially at least, directly linked to the Counter-Reformation a movement within the Catholic Church to reform itself in response to the Protestant Reformation. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) is usually given as the beginning of the Counter Reformation. The Baroque played into the demand for an architecture that was on the one hand more accessible to the emotions and, on the other hand, a visible statement of the wealth and power of the Church. The new style manifested itself in particular in the context of new religious orders, like the Theatines and the Jesuits, which aimed to improve popular piety. By the middle of the seventeenth century, the Baroque style had found its secular expression in the form of grand palaces, first in France — as in the Château de Maisons (1642) near Paris by François Mansart — and then throughout Europe.

Precursors and features of Baroque architecture
Michelangelo’s late Roman buildings, particularly St. Peter’s Basilica, may be considered precursors of baroque architecture, as the design of the latter achieves a colossal unity that was previously unknown. His pupil Giacomo della Porta continued this work in Rome, particularly in the facade of the Jesuit church Il Gesu, which leads directly to the most important church facade of the early baroque, Santa Susanna by Carlo Maderno. In the 17th century, the baroque style spread through Europe and Latin America, where it was particularly promoted by the Jesuits. Important features of baroque architecture include:

long, narrow naves are replaced by broader, occasionally circular forms
dramatic use of light, either strong light-and-shade contrasts, chiaroscuro effects (e.g. church of Weltenburg Abbey), or uniform lighting by means of several windows (e.g. church of Weingarten Abbey)
opulent use of ornaments (puttos made of wood (often gilded), plaster or stucco, marble or faux finishing)
large-scale ceiling frescoes

Santa Susanna: Carlo Maderno.

Sicilian Baroque: San Benedetto in Catania.

the external facade is often characterized by a dramatic central projection
the interior is often no more than a shell for painting and sculpture (especially in the late baroque)
illusory effects like trompe l’oeil and the blending of painting and architecture
in the Bavarian, Czech, Polish, and Ukrainian baroque, pear domes are ubiquitous

The Baroque and Colonialism
Though the tendency has been to see Baroque architecture as a European phenomenon, one must not forget that it coincided with — and is integrally enmeshed with — the rise of European colonialism. Colonialisms required the development of centralized and powerful governments with Spain and France, the first to move in this direction.[1] Colonialism brought in huge amounts of wealth not only in the silver that was extracted from the mines in Bolivia, Mexico and elsewhere, but also in the resultant trade in commodities, such as sugar and tobacco, etc. The need to control trade routes, monopolies and, of course, slavery, controlled primarily by the French during the seventeenth century, created an almost endless cycle of wars between the colonial powers: The French Religious Wars, the Thirty Years’ War (1618 and 1648), Franco-Spanish War (1653), The Dutch War (1672–1678) and so on. The initial mismanagement of colonial wealth by the Spaniards lead them into bankruptcy in the sixteenth century (1557 and 1560), recovering only slowly in the following century. This explains why the Baroque style, though enthusiastically developed in Spain, was to a large extent, in Spain, an architecture of surfaces and facades, unlike in France and Austria where we see the construction of numeruos huge palaces and monasteries. In contrast to Spain, the French under Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619 – 1683), the minister of finance, had begun to industrialize their economy and thus were able to become initially at least the prime benefactors of the flow of wealth. While this was good for the building industries and the arts, the new wealth created an inflation, the likes of which had never been experienced before. Basically the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Rome was known just as much for its new sumptuous churches as for its vagabonds.[2]

Rome and South Italy
The sacred architecture of the Baroque period had its beginnings in the Italian paradigm of the basilica with crossed dome and nave. One of the first Roman structures to break with the Mannerist conventions exemplified in the Gesù, was the church of Santa Susanna, designed by Carlo Maderno and built in. The dynamic rhythm of columns and pilasters, central massing, and the protrusion and condensed central decoration add complexity to the structure. There is an incipient playfulness with the rules of classic design, still maintaining rigor. They had domed roofs

The same emphasis on plasticity, continuity and dramatic effects is evident in the work of Pietro da Cortona, illustrated by San Luca e Santa Martina (1635) and Santa Maria della Pace (1656). The latter building, with concave wings devised to simulate a theatrical set, presses forward to fill a tiny piazza in front of it. Other Roman ensembles of the period are likewise suffused with theatricality, dominating the surrounding cityscape as a sort of theatrical environment.

Probably the best known example of such an approach is trapezoidal Saint Peter’s Square, which has been praised as a masterstroke of Baroque theatre. The square is shaped by two colonnades, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini on an unprecedented colossal scale to suit the space and provide emotions of awe. Bernini’s own favourite design was the polychromatic oval church of Sant’Andrea al Quirinale (1658), which, with its lofty altar and soaring dome, provides a concentrated sampling of the new architecture. His idea of the Baroque townhouse is typified by the Palazzo Barberini (1629) and Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi (1664), both in Rome.

Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza: Francesco Borromini

Bernini’s chief rival in the papal capital was Francesco Borromini, whose designs deviate from the regular compositions of the ancient world and Renaissance even more dramatically. Acclaimed by later generations as a revolutionary in architecture, Borromini condemned the anthropomorphic approach of the 16th century, choosing to base his designs on complicated geometric figures (modules). Borromini’s architectural space seems to expand and contract when needed, showing some affinity with the late style of Michelangelo. His iconic masterpiece is the diminutive church of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane), distinguished by a corrugated oval plan and complex convex-concave rhythms. A later work, Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza), displays the same antipathy to the flat surface and playful inventiveness, epitomized by a corkscrew lantern dome.

Following the death of Bernini in 1680, Carlo Fontana emerged as the most influential architect working in Rome. His early style is exemplified by the slightly concave facade of San Marcello al Corso). Fontana’s academic approach, though lacking in the dazzling inventiveness of his Roman predecessors, exerted substantial influence on Baroque architecture both through his prolific writings and through a number of architects whom he trained and who would disseminate the Baroque idioms throughout 18th-century Europe.

The 18th century saw the capital of Europe’s architectural world transferred from Rome to Paris. The Italian Rococo, which flourished in Rome from the 1720s onward, was profoundly influenced by the ideas of Borromini. The most talented architects active in Rome — Francesco de Sanctis (Spanish Steps, 1723) and Filippo Raguzzini (Piazza Sant’Ignazio, 1727) — had little influence outside their native country, as did numerous practitioners of the Sicilian Baroque, including Giovanni Battista Vaccarini, Andrea Palma, and Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia.

Basilica di Superga near Turin: Filippo Juvarra

Convent of Mafra, Portugal: Ludovice

The last phase of Baroque architecture in Italy is exemplified by Luigi Vanvitelli’s Caserta Palace, reputedly the largest building erected in Europe in the 18th century. Indebted to contemporary French and Spanish models, the palace is skillfully related to the landscape. At Naples and Caserta, Vanvitelli practiced a sober classicizing academic style, with equal attention to aesthetics and engineering, a style that would make an easy transition to Neoclassicism.

North Italy
In the north of Italy, the monarchs from the House of Savoy were particularly receptive to the new style. They employed a brilliant triad of architects — Guarino Guarini, Filippo Juvarra and Bernardo Vittone — to illustrate the grandiose political ambitions and the newly acquired royal status of their dynasty.

Guarini was a peripatetic monk who combined many traditions (including that of Gothic architecture) to create irregular structures remarkable for their oval columns and unconventional façades. Building upon the findings of contemporary geometry and stereotomy, Guarini elaborated the concept of architectura obliqua, which approximated Borromini’s style in both theoretical and structural audacity. Guarini’s Palazzo Carignano (1679) may have been the most flamboyant application of the Baroque style to the design of a private house in the 17th century.

Fluid forms, weightless details and airy prospects of Juvarra’s architecture anticipated the art of Rococo. Although his practice ranged well beyond Turin, Juvarra’s most arresting designs were created for Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia. The visual impact of his Basilica di Superga (1717) derives from its soaring roofline and masterful placement on a hill above Turin. Rustic ambience encouraged a freer articulation of architectural form at the royal hunting lodge of the Palazzina di Stupinigi (1729). Juvarra finished his short but eventful career in Madrid, where he worked on the royal palaces at La Granja and Aranjuez.

Among the many who were profoundly influenced by the brilliance and diversity of Juvarra and Guarini none was more important than Bernardo Vittone. This Piedmontese architect is remembered for an outcrop of flamboyant Rococo churches, quatrefoil in plan and delicate in detailing. His sophisticated designs often feature multiple vaults, structures within structures and domes within domes.


Château de Maisons near Paris: François Mansart, 1642.

The centre of baroque secular architecture was France, where the open three wing layout of the palace was established as the canonical solution as early as the 16th century. But it was the Palais du Luxembourg) by Salomon de Brosse that determined the sober and classicizing direction that French Baroque architecture was to take. For the first time, the corps de logis was emphasized as the representative main part of the building, while the side wings were treated as hierarchically inferior and appropriately scaled down. The medieval tower has been completely replaced by the central projection in the shape of a monumental three-storey gateway.

De Brosse’s melding of traditional French elements (e.g., lofty mansard roofs and complex roofline) with extensive Italianate quotations (e.g., ubiquitous rustication, derived from Palazzo Pitti in Florence) came to characterize the Louis XIII style. Probably the most accomplished formulator of the new manner was François Mansart, a tireless perfectionist credited with introducing the full Baroque to France. In his design for Château de Maisons (1642), Mansart succeeded in reconciling academic and baroque approaches, while demonstrating respect for the gothic-inherited idiosyncrasies of the French tradition.

Vaux-le-Vicomte near Paris: Louis Le Vau and André Le Nôtre, 1661.

The Château of Maisons (illustration) demonstrates the ongoing transition from the post-medieval chateaux of the sixteenth century to the villa-like country houses of the eighteenth. The structure is strictly symmetrical, with an order applied to each story, mostly in pilaster form. The frontispiece, crowned with a separate aggrandized roof, is infused with remarkable plasticity and the whole ensemble reads like a three-dimensional whole. Mansart’s structures are stripped of overblown decorative effects, so typical of contemporary Rome. Italian Baroque influence is muted and relegated to the field of decorative ornamentation.

The next step in the development of European residential architecture involved the integration of the gardens in the composition of the palace, as is exemplified by Vaux-le-Vicomte), where the architect Louis Le Vau, the designer Charles Le Brun and the gardener André Le Nôtre complemented each other. From the main cornice to a low plinth, the miniature palace is clothed in the so-called “colossal order”, which makes the structure look more impressive. The creative collaboration of Le Vau and Le Nôtre marked the arrival of the “Magnificent Manner” which allowed to extend Baroque architecture outside the palace walls and transform the surrounding landscape into an immaculate mosaic of expansive vistas.

St. Louis des Invalides, Paris: Jules Hardouin Mansart, 1676.

The same three artists scaled this concept to monumental proportions in the royal hunting lodge and later main residence at Versailles). On a far grander scale, the palace is a hypertrophied and somewhat repetitive version of Vaux-le-Vicomte. It was both the most grandiose and the most imitated residential building of the 17th century. Mannheim, Nordkirchen and Drottningholm were among many foreign residences for which Versailles provided a model.

The final expansion of Versailles was superintended by Jules Hardouin Mansart, whose key design is the Dome des Invalides), generally regarded as the most important French church of the century. Hardouin-Mansart profited from his uncle’s instruction and plans to instill the edifice with an imperial grandeur unprecedented in the countries north of Italy. The majestic hemispherical dome balances the vigorous vertical thrust of the orders, which do not accurately convey the structure of the interior. The younger architect not only revived the harmony and balance associated with the work of the elder Mansart but also set the tone for Late Baroque French architecture, with its grand ponderousness and increasing concessions to academicism.

The reign of Louis XV saw a reaction against the official Louis XIV style in the shape of a more delicate and intimate manner, known as Rococo. The style was pioneered by Nicolas Pineau, who collaborated with Hardouin-Mansart on the interiors of the royal Château de Marly. Further elaborated by Pierre Le Pautre and Juste-Aurèle Meissonier, the “genre pittoresque” culminated in the interiors of the Petit Château at Chantilly (c. 1722) and Hôtel de Soubise in Paris (c. 1732), where a fashionable emphasis on the curvilinear went beyond all reasonable measure, while sculpture, paintings, furniture, and porcelain tended to overshadow architectural divisions of the interior.


The Library in Pjazza Regina, Valletta, as seen in the film “Munich”

Valletta, the capital city of Malta, was laid out in 1566 to fortify the Knights of Rhodes, who had taken over the island when they were driven from Rhodes by Islamic armies. The city, designed by Francesco Laparelli on a grid plan, and built up over the next century, remains a particularly coherent example of Baroque urbanism. Its massive fortifications, which were considered state of the art, until the modern age, are also largely intact.

Valletta became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.


Amsterdam City Hall (Royal Palace): Jacob van Campen, 1646.

There is little Baroque about Dutch architecture of the 17th century. The architecture of the first republic in Northern Europe was meant to reflect democratic values by quoting extensively from classical antiquity. Like contemporary developments in England, Dutch Palladianism is marked by sobriety and restraint. Two leading architects, Jacob van Campen and Pieter Post, used such eclectic elements as giant-order pilasters, gable roofs, central pediments, and vigorous steeples in a coherent combination that anticipated Wren’s Classicism.

The most ambitious constructions of the period included the seats of self-government in Amsterdam (1646) and Maastricht (1658), designed by Campen and Post, respectively. On the other hand, the residences of the House of Orange are closer to a typical burgher mansion than to a royal palace. Two of these, Huis ten Bosch and Mauritshuis, are symmetrical blocks with large windows, stripped of ostentatious Baroque flourishes and mannerisms. The same austerely geometrical effect is achieved without great cost or pretentious effects at the stadholder’s summer residence of Het Loo.

The Dutch Republic was one of the great powers of 17th-century Europe and its influence on European architecture was by no means negligible. Dutch architects were employed on important projects in Northern Germany, Scandinavia and Russia, disseminating their ideas in those countries. The Dutch colonial architecture, once flourishing in the Hudson River Valley and associated primarily with red-brick gabled houses, may still be seen in Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles.

English Baroque

Greenwich Hospital : Sir Christopher Wren, 1694.

Baroque aesthetics, whose influence was so potent in mid-17th century France, made little impact in England during the Protectorate and the first Restoration years. For a decade between the death of Inigo Jones in 1652 and Christopher Wren‘s visit to Paris in 1665 there was no English architect of the accepted premier class. Unsurprisingly, general interest in European architectural developments was slight.

It was Wren who presided over the genesis of the English Baroque manner, which differed from the continental models by clarity of design and subtle taste for classicism. Following the Great Fire of London, Wren rebuilt fifty three churches, where Baroque aesthetics are apparent primarily in dynamic structure and multiple changing views. His most ambitious work was Saint Paul’s Cathedral), which bears comparison with the most effulgent domed churches of Italy and France. In this majestically proportioned edifice, the Palladian tradition of Inigo Jones is fused with contemporary continental sensibilities in masterly equilibrium. Less influential were straightforward attempts to engraft the Berniniesque vision onto British church architecture (e.g., by Thomas Archer in St. John’s, Smith Square, 1728).

Seaton Delaval Hall: Sir John Vanbrugh, 1718.

Although Wren was also active in secular architecture, the first truly baroque country house in England was built to a design by William Talman at Chatsworth, starting in 1687. The culmination of Baroque architectural forms comes with Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor. Each was capable of a fully developed architectural statement, yet they preferred to work in tandem, most notably at Castle Howard (1699) and Blenheim Palace (1705).

Although these two palaces may appear somewhat ponderous or turgid to Italian eyes, their heavy embellishment and overpowering mass captivated the British public, albeit for a short while. Castle Howard is a flamboyant assembly of restless masses dominated by a cylindrical domed tower which would not be out of place in Dresden or Munich. Blenheim is a more solid construction, where the massed stone of the arched gates and the huge solid portico becomes the main ornament. Vanbrugh’s final work was Seaton Delaval Hall (1718), a comparatively modest mansion yet unique in the structural audacity of its style. It was at Seaton Delaval that Vanbrugh, a skillful playwright, achieved the peak of Restoration drama, once again highlighting a parallel between Baroque architecture and contemporary theatre. Despite his efforts, Baroque was never truly to the English taste and well before his death in 1724 the style had lost currency in Britain.


Chateau de Dampierre en Yvelines

French châteaux of the 17th century provided models for numerous country houses across Northern Europe.

Tessin’s Drottningholm Palace illustrates the proximity between French and Swedish architectural practice.
During the golden age of the Swedish Empire, the architecture of Nordic countries was dominated by the Swedish court architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder) and his son Nicodemus Tessin the Younger). Their aesthetic was readily adopted across the Baltic, in Copenhagen and Saint Petersburg.

Born in Germany, Tessin the Elder endowed Sweden with a truly national style, a well-balanced mixture of contemporary French and medieval Hanseatic elements. His designs for the royal manor of Drottningholm) seasoned French prototypes with Italian elements, while retaining some peculiarly Nordic features, such as the hipped roof (säteritak).

Amalienborg, a Baroque quarter in the center of Copenhagen.

Tessin the Younger shared his father’s enthusiasm for discrete palace facades. His design for the Stockholm Palace draws so heavily on Bernini’s unexecuted plans for the Louvre that we could well imagine it standing in Naples, Vienna, or St. Petersburg. Another example of the so-called International Baroque, based on Roman models with little concern for national specifics, is the Royal Palace of Madrid. The same approach is manifested is Tessin’s polychrome domeless Kalmar Cathedral), a skillful pastiche of early Italian Baroque, clothed in a giant order of paired Ionic pilasters.

It was not until the mid-18th century that Danish and Russian architecture emancipated from Swedish influence. A milestone of this late period is Nicolai Eigtved’s design for a new district of Copenhagen centred on the Amalienborg Palace). The palace is composed of four rectangular mansions for the four greatest nobles of the kingdom, arranged across the angles of an octagonal square. The restrained facades of the mansions hark back to French antecedents, while their interiors contain some of the finest Rococo decoration in Northern Europe.

Holy Roman Empire
In the Holy Roman Empire, the baroque period began somewhat later. Although the Augsburg architect Elias Holl (1573 – 1646) and some theoretists, including Joseph Furttenbach the Elder already practised the baroque style, they remained without successors due to the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War. From about 1650 on, construction work resumes, and secular and ecclesiastical architecture are of equal importance. During an initial phase, master-masons from southern Switzerland and northern Italy, the so-called magistri Grigioni and the Lombard master-masons, particularly the Carlone family from Val d’Intelvi, dominated the field. However, Austria came soon to develop its own characteristic baroque style during the last third of the seventeenth century. Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was impressed by Bernini. He forged a new Imperial style by compiling architectural motifs from the entire history, most prominently seen in his church of St. Charles Borromeo in Vienna. Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt also had an Italian training. He developed a highly decorative style, particularly in facade architecture, which exerted strong influences on southern Germany.

Frequently, the Southern German baroque is distinguished from the Northern German baroque, which is more properly the distinction between the Catholic and the Protestant baroque.

Augustusburg, a typical baroque palace from Westphalia.

In the Catholic South, the Jesuit church of St. Michael in Munich was the first to bring Italian style across the Alps. However, its influence on the further development of church architecture was rather limited. A much more practical and more adaptable model of church architecture was provided by the Jesuit church in Dillingen): the wall-pillar church, i.e. a barrel-vaulted nave accompanied by large open chapels separated by wall-pillars. As opposed to St. Michael’s in Munich, the chapels almost reach the height of the nave in the wall-pillar church, and their vault (usually transverse barrel-vaults) springs from the same level as the main vault of the nave. The chapels provide ample lighting; seen from the entrance of the church, the wall-pillars form a theatrical setting for the side altars. The wall-pillar church was further developed by the Vorarlberg school, as well as the master-masons of Bavaria. The wall-pillar church also integrated well with the hall church model of the German late Gothic age. The wall-pillar church continued to be used throughout the eighteenth century (e.g., even in the early neo-classical church of Rot a der Rot), and early wall-pillar churches could easily be refurbished by re-decoration without any structural changes, e.g., the church at Dillingen.

The Church of St. Nicolas in Prague. Radical Bohemian Baroque

However, the Catholic South also received influences from other sources, e.g., the so-called radical baroque of Bohemia. The radical baroque of Christoph Dientzenhofer and his son Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, both residing at Prague, was inspired by examples from northern Italy, particularly by the works of Guarino Guarini. It is characterized by the curvature of walls and intersection of oval spaces. While some Bohemian influence is visible in Bavaria’s most prominent architect of the period, Johann Michael Fischer, e.g., in the curved balconies of some of his earlier wall-pillar churches, the works of Balthasar Neumann are generally considered to be the final synthesis of Bohemian and German traditions.

Protestant sacred architecture was of lesser importance during the baroque, and produced only a few works of prime importance, particularly the Frauenkirche in Dresden. Architectural theory was more lively in the north than in the south of Germany, e.g., Leonhard Christoph Sturm’s edition of Nikolaus Goldmann, but Sturm’s theoretical considerations (e.g., on Protestant church architecture) never really made it to practical application. In the south, theory essentially reduced to the use of buildings and elements from illustrated books and engravings as a prototype.

Palace architecture was equally important both in the Catholic South and the Protestant North. After an initial phase when Italian architects and influences dominated (Vienna, Rastatt), French influence prevailed from the second decennium of the eighteenth century onwards. The French model is characterized by the horseshoe-like layout enclosing a cour d’honneur (courtyard) on the town side (chateau entre cour et jardin), whereas the Italian (and also Austrian) scheme presents a block-like villa. The principal achievements of German Palace architecture, often worked out in close collaboration of several architects, provide a synthesis of Austro-Italian and French models. The most outstanding palace which blends Austro-Italian and French influences into a completely new type of building is the residence at Würzburg. While its general layout is the horseshoe-like French plan, it encloses interior courtyards. Its facades combine Lucas von Hildebrandt’s love of decoration with French-style classical orders in two superimposed stories; its interior features the famous Austrian “imperial staircase”, but also a French-type enfilade of rooms on the garden side, inspired by the “apartement semi-double” layout of French castles.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Wilanów palace in Warsaw represents a modest type of baroque residence.

The first baroque church in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the Corpus Christi Church in Niasvizh, Belarus (1587). It also holds a distinction of being the first domed basilica with Baroque facade in the world and the first baroque piece of art in Eastern Europe.

In the early 17th century, the Baroque style spread over the Commonwealth. Important baroque churches include the Waza Chapel in the Wawel Cathedral, the SS. Peter and Paul, St. Anna and the Wizytek church in Kraków, St Peter and St Paul’s Church, St Casimir’s Chapel and St Casimir’s Church in Vilnius, Pažaislis monastery in Kaunas the Dominican and St George Church in Lwów, the Jesuit church in Poznań, the Xavier cathedral in Hrodno, the Royal Chapel in Gdańsk, and Święta Lipka in Masuria. In Warsaw, which before WW2 was filled with Baroque residences, churches and houses, and where Tylman van Gameren was active, survived few important buildings – Wilanów Palace, Krasiński Palace, Bernardines church in Czerniaków and Late-baroque Wizytek church.

Architects such as Jan Krzysztoff Glaubitz were instrumental in forming the so-called distinctive “Vilnius Baroque” style, which spread throughout the region.

By the end of the century, Polish baroque influences crossed the Dnieper into the Cossack Hetmanate, where they gave birth to a particular style of Orthodox architecture, known as the Cossack baroque. Such was its popular appeal that every medieval church in Kiev and the Left-Bank Ukraine was redesigned according to the newest fashion.

Kingdom of Hungary
In the Kingdom of Hungary the first great Baroque building was the Jesuit Church of Nagyszombat built by Pietro Spozzo in 1629-37 modelling the Church of the Gesu in Rome. Jesuits were the main propagators of the new style with their churches in Győr (1634-1641), Kassa (1671-1684), Eger (1731-1733) and Székesfehérvár (1745-1751). The reconstruction of the territories devastated by the Ottomans was carried out in Baroque style in 18th century. Intact Baroque townscapes can be found in Győr, Székesfehérvár, Eger, Veszprém, Esztergom and the Castle District of Buda. The most important Baroque palaces in Hungary were the Royal Palace in Buda, Grassalkovich Castle in Gödöllő and Esterházy Castle in Fertőd. Smaller Baroque castles of the Hungarian aristocracy are scattered all over the country. Hungarian Baroque shows the double influence of Austrian and Italian artistic tendencies as many German and Italian architects worked in the country. The main characteristics of the local version of the style were modesty, lack of excessive decoration and some “rural” flavour, especially in the works of the local masters. Important architects of the Hungarian Baroque were András Mayerhoffer, Ignác Oraschek and Márton Wittwer. Franz Anton Pilgram also worked in the Kingdom of Hungary, for example on the great Premonstratensian monastery of Jászó. In the last decades of the 18th century Neo-Classical tendencies became dominant. The two most important architects of that period were Menyhért Hefele and Jakab Fellner.

Two most important architectural representations of Baroque in Romania, are the Brukenthal Palace in Sibiu city, and the former Bishopric Palace in Oradea, now a state museum.

In Russia, the baroque architecture passed through three stages – the early Moscow baroque, with elegant white decorations on red-brick walls of rather traditional churches, the mature Petrine baroque, mostly imported from Low Countries, and the late Rastrelliesque baroque, in the words of William Brumfield, “extravagant in design and execution, yet ordered by the rhythmic insistence of massed columns and baroque statuary.”

Portugal and Brazil
Nothwithstanding a prodigality of sensually rich surface decoration associated with Baroque architecture of the Iberian Peninsula, the royal courts of Madrid and Lisbon generally favoured a more sober architectural vocabulary distilled from seventeenth-century Italy. The royal palaces of Madrid, La Granja, Aranjuez, Mafra and Queluz were designed by architects under strong influence of Bernini and Juvarra. In the realm of church architecture, Guarini’s design for Sta. Maria della Divina Providenza in Lisbon was a pace-setter for structural audacity in the region (even though it was never built). The first fully baroque church in Portugal was the Church of Santa Engrácia), in Lisbon, designed by royal architect João Antunes.

Palácio do Raio in Braga.

By the mid-eighteenth century, northern Portuguese architects had absorbed the concepts of Italian Baroque to revel in the plasticity of local granite in such projects as the surging 75-metre-high Torre dos Clérigos in Porto). The foremost centre of the national Baroque tradition was Braga, whose buildings encompass virtually every important feature of Portuguese architecture and design. The Baroque shrines and palaces of Braga are noted for polychrome ornamental patterns, undulating rooflines, and irregularly shaped window surrounds.

São Francisco de Assis in São João del Rei: Aleijadinho, 1777.

Brazilian architects also explored plasticity in form and decoration, though they rarely surpassed their continental peers in ostentation. The churches of Mariana and the Rosario at Ouro Preto are based on Guarini’s vision of interlocking oval spaces. At São Pedro dos Clérigos, Recife), a conventional stucco-and-stone facade is enlivened by “a high scrolled gable squeezed tightly between the towers”[3].

Even after the Baroque conventions passed out of fashion in Europe, the style was long practised in Brazil by Aleijadinho, a brilliant and prolific architect in whose designs hints of Rococo could be discerned. His church of Bom Jesus de Matozinhas at Congonhas is distinguished by a picturesque silhouette and dark ornamental detail on a light stuccoed facade. For São Francisco de Assis, São João del Rei, Aleijadinho created a curved pattern of gables, towers, and rounded corners in harmony with the exquisite sculptural decoration, also executed to his designs.

Spain and Belgium

As Italian Baroque influences penetrated across the Pyrenees, they gradually superseded in popularity the restrained classicizing approach of Juan de Herrera, which had been in vogue since the late sixteenth century. As early as 1667, the facades of Granada Cathedral (by Alonso Cano) and Jaen Cathedral (by Eufrasio López de Rojas) suggest the artists’ fluency in interpreting traditional motifs of Spanish cathedral architecture in the Baroque aesthetic idiom.

The most impressive display of Churrigueresque spatial decoration may be found in the west facade of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela).

In contrast to the art of Northern Europe, the Spanish art of the period appealed to the emotions rather than seeking to please the intellect. The Churriguera family, which specialized in designing altars and retables, revolted against the sobriety of the Herreresque classicism and promoted an intricate, exaggerated, almost capricious style of surface decoration known as the Churrigueresque. Within half a century, they transformed Salamanca into an exemplary Churrigueresque city. Among the highlights of the style, interiors of the Granada Charterhouse offer some of the most impressive combinations of space and light in 18th-century Europe. Integrating sculpture and architecture even more radically, Narciso Tomé achieved striking chiaroscuro effects in his Transparente for the Toledo Cathedral.

The development of the style passed through three phases. Between 1680 and 1720, the Churriguera popularized Guarini’s blend of Solomonic columns and composite order, known as the “supreme order”. Between 1720 and 1760, the Churrigueresque column, or estipite, in the shape of an inverted cone or obelisk, was established as a central element of ornamental decoration. The years from 1760 to 1780 saw a gradual shift of interest away from twisted movement and excessive ornamentation toward a neoclassical balance and sobriety.

Church of St. Michel in Louvain, Belgium: Willem Hesius, 1650.

Two of the most eye-catching creations of Spanish Baroque are the energetic facades of the University of Valladolid (Diego Tomé, 1719) and Hospicio de San Fernando in Madrid (Pedro de Ribera, 1722), whose curvilinear extravagance seems to herald Antonio Gaudi and Art Nouveau. In this case as in many others, the design involves a play of tectonic and decorative elements with little relation to structure and function. The focus of the florid ornamentation is an elaborately sculptured surround to a main doorway. If we remove the intricate maze of broken pediments, undulating cornices, stucco shells, inverted tapers and garlands from the rather plain wall it is set against, the building’s form would not be affected in the slightest.

In the wealthy Southern Netherlandish domain of the Spanish kings, Flanders, florid decorative detailing was more tightly knit to the structure, thus precluding concerns of superfluity. A remarkable convergence of Spanish, French and Dutch Baroque aesthetics may be seen in the Abbey of Averbode (1667). Another characteristic example is the Church of St. Michel at Louvain), with its exuberant two-storey facade, clusters of half-columns, and the complex aggregation of French-inspired sculptural detailing.

Six decades later, a Flemish architect, Jaime Borty Milia, was the first to introduce Rococo to Spain (Cathedral of Murcia, west facade, 1733). The greatest practioner of the Spanish Rococo style was a native master, Ventura Rodríguez, responsible for the dazzling interior of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa (1750).

Spanish America

San Francisco de Asís Church, Lima, 1673.

The combination of the Native American and Moorish decorative influences with an extremely expressive interpretation of the Churrigueresque idiom may account for the full-bodied and varied character of the Baroque in the American and Asian colonies of Spain. Even more than its Spanish counterpart, American Baroque developed as a style of stucco decoration. Twin-towered facades of many American cathedrals of the seventeenth century had medieval roots and the full-fledged Baroque did not appear until 1664, when a Jesuit shrine on Plaza des Armas in Cusco was built. Even then, the new style hardly affected the structure of churches.

The Peruvian Baroque was particularly lavish, as evidenced by the monastery of San Francisco at Lima (1673). While the rural Baroque of the Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba in Cordoba, Argentina followed the model of Il Gesu, provincial “mestizo” (crossbred) styles emerged in Arequipa, Potosi and La Paz. In the eighteenth century, architects of the region turned for inspiration to the Mudejar art of medieval Spain. The late Baroque type of Peruvian facade first appears in the Church of Our Lady of La Merced, Lima). Similarly, the Church of La Compañia, Quito) suggests a carved altarpiece with its richly sculpted facade and a surfeit of spiral salomónica.

The facade of the church of Ss. Sebastian y Santa Prisca in Taxco) bristles with Mexican Churrigueresque ornamentation.

To the north, the richest province of 18th-century New Spain — Mexico — produced some fantastically extravagant and visually frenetic architecture known as Mexican Churrigueresque. This ultra-Baroque approach culminates in the works of Lorenzo Rodriguez, whose masterpiece is the Sagrario Metropolitano in Mexico City). Other fine examples of the style may be found in remote silver-mining towns. For instance, the Sanctuary at Ocotlan (begun in 1745) is a top-notch Baroque cathedral surfaced in bright red tiles, which contrast delightfully with a plethora of compressed ornament lavishly applied to the main entrance and the slender flanking towers (exterior, interior).

The true capital of Mexican Baroque is Puebla, where a ready supply of hand-painted ceramics (talavera) and vernacular gray stone led to its evolving further into a personalised and highly localised art form with a pronounced Indian flavour. There are about sixty churches whose facades and domes display glazed tiles of many colours, often arranged in Arabic designs. The interiors are densely saturated with elaborate gold leaf ornamentation. In the 18th century, local artisans developed a distinctive brand of white stucco decoration, named “alfenique” after a Pueblan candy made from egg whites and sugar.