Contemporary Architecture

FRITZ HOGER – Chilehaus


  • Johann Friedrich (Fritz) Höger was a German architect from Bekenreihe
  • He was an Expressionist Architect
  • His best-known work is the Brick Expressionist Chilehaus in Hamburg
  • 1877 – Born in Bekenreihe
  • 1897-99 – Studies at School Of Building    Crafts in Hamburg
  • 1907 – Sets up his own practice
  • 1921-24 – Chilehaus , Hamburg
  • 1933 – His hopes of being master-builder to Hitler disappointed
  • 1934-36 – Professor of Architecture at Nordic University Of Art
  • 1949 – Dies in Bad Segeberg•

Brick Expressionism:

  • Expressionism – distortion  or fragmentation of form to communicate an overstressed emotion
  • Focus on creativity and consideration of architecture as a work of art
  • Forms were emotional rather than physical
  • Brick Expressionism (Backsteinexpressionismus) is a variant of Expressionist architecture which uses bricks, tiles or clinker bricks
  • Mostly in 1920s in Germany
  • Characterised by rough surface with colours varying from brown via red to purple
  • While Bauhaus Architects argued for the removal of all decoration, Expressionists  developed ornamentation using rough, angular or pointy elements
  • Façade designs were enhanced by use of architectural sculptures


  • 10 story office building
  • Site of approximately 6,000m² spanning the Fischertwiete street
  • It was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman, who made his fortune trading saltpeter from Chile, hence the name Chile House
  • It resembles a passenger ship
  • The building is famed for its top, which is reminiscent of a ship’s prow, and the facades, which meet at a very sharp angle at the corner of the Pumpen and Niedernstrasse
  • 3 tiered balconies are like a ship’s decks
  • The bricks of Chile House have a shimmering effect and reflect the change of light in the surrounding with a varying luster
  • Chile House looks especially beautiful at night, when it seems to capture all the light present and throws it back in an amplified form which veins out along its immensity.
  • The building has a reinforced concrete structure
  • The building is constructed on very difficult terrain, so to gain stability it was necessary to build on 16-meter-deep reinforced-concrete pilings
  • use of 4.8 million dark Oldenburg bricks
  • has over 2,800 windows which overlook some of the most scenic places in the city
  • The sculptural elements in the staircases and on the facade were provided by the sculptor Richard Kuöhl
  • the location’s close vicinity to the Elbe river necessitated a specially sealed cellar, and heating equipment was constructed in a caisson that can float within the building, so the equipment can’t be damaged in the event of flooding.
  • Because of the accentuated vertical elements and the recessed upper stories, as well as the curved facade on the Pumpen street, the building has, despite its enormous size, a touch of lightness
  • the ground-floor base with its arches, and the cantilevered platforms with the four stepped-back upper storeys, are tightly structured by closely positioned clinker piers
  • Some consider Chilehaus as having Art Deco  aesthetics due to its resemblance to a ship indicated by:
  1. Pointed Bow
  2. Chilean State Emblem(Cormorant) as figurehead
  3. 3 stepped back stories as roof
  4. Cantilevered balconies like decks
  5. triangular pilasters, when viewed obliquely, cause the window to vanish as in the flank of a ship’s hull
  6. S-shape curving south façade
  • Gothic-like pointed arch decoration to the projecting structures and arcades
  • other ornamental details developed from the brickwork
  • In 1983 Chile House in Hamburg was recognized as an architectural monument and was included in the UNESCO list of World heritage Sites
  • Chilehaus escaped major destruction during World War II
  • buildings surrounding Chilehaus had suffered direct hits from enemy bombs

Other Works

  • Garbáty cigarette factory
  • Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz
  • Rathaus
  • Anzeigerhochhaus – one of the first skyscrapers in Germany
  • Albert Speer’s Berlin
  • Fritz Hoger sympathized with the Nazi movement and wanted to be the state architect
  • Expressionism tended to be more gothic than classical
  • Albert Speer’s classicism using white marble was preferred over Hoger’s Brick Expressionism
  • Expressionism was outlawed as Degenerate Art
  • While most of Speer’s buildings were destroyed by bombings, Hoger’s buildings survived the war

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