In 1930, Hans Scharoun designed the Schminke House for Fritz Schminke, the owner of a noodles factory in Loebau, Saxony, Germany. Schminke requested a modern house for his family of six, with space for occasional guests. The resulting design is considered Scharoun’s most significant work of the pre-World War II period, comparable in importance to Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye and Mies van der Rohe’s Tugendhat Mansion. The Schminke House is a modernist masterpiece featuring clean lines, simple forms, and an emphasis on natural light and open spaces. The house is now open to the public as a museum, allowing visitors to experience firsthand the brilliance of Scharoun’s design.
Schminke House Information
- Architects: Hans Scharoun
- Renovation Architects: Pitz & Hoh, Werkstatt für Architektur und Denkmalpflege
- Location: Kirschallee, Lobau, Germany
- Topics: International Style, Organic Architecture
- Area: 300 m2
- Project Year: 1930 – 1933
- Photographs: © Wojtek Gurak
With its curved, radiant white facades, porthole-style windows, terraces and unusual exterior stair, the house is reminiscent of a steamship. Scharoun, who grew up in the coastal city of Bremerhaven, frequently made reference to his hometown: metal stairs and railings, balconies and round windows, all signature elements of his work, are also to be found here in the Schminke House.
Schminke House Photographs
A Masterpiece of Modernist Architecture by Hans Scharoun
The Schminke House in the Saxon town of Löbau is one of the key works by the architect Hans Scharoun. The house, built between 1930 and 1933, has drawn worldwide attention. It is considered a prime example of the “Neues Bauen” and modern architecture in the International Style.
Fritz Schminke, the owner of a pasta factory, had first become aware of the architect Scharoun at the Werkbund Exhibitions in Stuttgart (1927) and Breslau (1929). One year later, Schminke commissioned Scharoun to design a “modern house for two parents, four children and an occasional guest or two” The client and his wife, Charlotte, worked closely with the architect during the design phase. She attached great importance to space-saving and practical built-in fixtures to simplify the Family Life. On the other hand, the living spaces were to be spacious and open. The result was a house that was both extravagant and functional: the architecture developed organically from its functions and the needs of its inhabitants.
The house is reminiscent of a steamship with its curved, radiant white facades, porthole-style windows, terraces, and unusual exterior stairs. Scharoun, who grew up in the coastal city of Bremerhaven, frequently referred to his hometown: metal stairs and railings, balconies, and round windows, all signature elements of his work, are also to be found here in the Schminke House.
Scharoun always paid attention to creating a harmonious relationship between building and landscape. Although there is no clear documentation of plans by garden designer Herta Hammerbacher, in all probability, she inspired the redesign of the garden in the 1930s.
As a dynamic link between nature and architecture, floor-to-ceiling windows open the living space to the outside. Inside, too, the rooms merge seamlessly. Only sliding doors and curtains separate the respective areas from one another; form and color reinforce the spatial structure.
In 1945, the Russian Red Army confiscated the house, and it became a Soviet Army military commander’s office. The Schminkes got the home back in 1946, but, at the same time, Fritz was usurped from his Anker pasta factory. Then, his wife Charlotte established a children’s recreation home for bomb victims’ families to make her living. Her husband returned from Russian war captivity in 1948 and left the former GDR in 1950. He was regarded as a war criminal for being a supplier to the German Army Wehrmacht during World War II: His wife followed him, and both lived in Celle, Lower Saxony, in 1951.
Today, the Schminke House is seen as one of the world’s most important residential buildings of its era. Soon after completion, it was already recognized as a revolutionary work of modernism, and in 1978 it was placed under monument protection.
The Schminke House is now managed by a foundation that offers thematic guided tours and makes the house available for overnight stays. Instead of presenting the house as a museum, this allows visitors the opportunity to genuinely experience the (residential) qualities of the house for themselves. In addition, the house is regularly used for events such as meetings, seminars, and celebrations.
Schminke House Plans
Schminke House Image Gallery
About Hans Scharoun
Bernhard Hans Henry Scharoun (20 September 1893 – 25 November 1972) was a German architect best known for designing the Berliner Philharmonie (home to the Berlin Philharmonic) and the Schminke House in Löbau, Saxony. He was a critical exponent of organic and expressionist architecture.
Scharoun received his training at the Technische Hochschule in Berlin from 1912 to 1914. After World War I, he became a follower of the Berlin architect Bruno Taut, and in 1925 he joined the group known as Der Ring, formed to defend the modern movement in architecture. When the Nazis came to power, his architectural activities were severely curtailed. Still, after World War II, he served in several governments and academic posts related to town planning. Among his best-known postwar works are the Geschwister Scholl Schule at Lünen, Westphalia (1955–62), and the multi-faceted Romeo and Juliet apartment buildings at Stuttgart (1963).