Neoclassical Architects in Germany

Instructor: Graig Delany

Graig teaches Architecture, Construction and Engineering Courses and has a Master of Architecture Degree

Neoclassical architecture was a reaction against the excessive ornamentation of Baroque and Rococo architecture. As a movement, Neoclassicism sought to recreate the style and order of Ancient Greece and Rome. This article will explore the work of Neoclassical Architects in Germany.

Setting the Scene

The American and French revolutions changed the world, and these new attitudes extended into the arts -- especially into architecture. The monarchies and controlling governments of times past had adopted the overly ornate architecture of Baroque and Rococo, and as the people rebelled, they revolted against the design sensibilities of their oppressors, too. A return to classical ideals began to manifest, and a revisiting of the architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome gained popularity.

German Neoclassicism

German Klassizismus, as it was called, was based on a desire to regain the design purity of classical antiquity. The design principles which Vitruvius laid out over 2000 years ago in De Architectura guided the architects of ancient Rome, and later served as an important reference to architects of both the Renaissance and the Neoclassical movement. This style gained prominence around the middle part of the 18th century and its popularity lasted for nearly a century. This style idealized simplicity and clarity over adornment and was influential to modernist architects like Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Neoclassicism had clear differentiation of architectural features using the classical components of capitals, columns and pediments.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel
Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Perhaps the most well-known Neoclassical architect of all time is the Prussian Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Schinkel had visited Italy, studied the ruins of antiquity through painting, and developed his belief that buildings must be poetic and have a dialogue with the past. He developed his ideas through painting and some early projects. His take on Neoclassicism turned decidedly toward a Neo-Greek style that symbolized the ideals of Greek democracy. The Schauspielhaus in Berlin, constructed in 1818, shows his grasp of Neoclassical architecture and his individual take on neo-Greek style. This building, now known as the Konzerthaus Berlin, has Ionic columns with an elaborate carved motif on its pediment. The building fuses the classical elements of the Ionic order with newer features, such as metal and glass.

Schauspielhaus
Schauspielhaus

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