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 of 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 that could simplify the family’s life. The living spaces, on the other hand, were to be spacious and open. The result was a house that is both extravagant and functional: the architecture developed organically from its functions and the needs of its inhabitants.
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.
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 individual areas from one another; form and colour reinforce the spatial structure.
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 recognised 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 not only offers thematic guided tours, but also makes the house available for overnight stays. Instead of presenting the house like 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. Every year, several thousand visitors from all over the world come to Löbau to discover one of the most exciting chapters in European architectural history. [DB/DK]