At one end of Warnemünde’s beach promenade, near the mouth of the river Warnow, stands a distinctive landmark known as the Teepott (literally Teapot), which opened as a beach restaurant in 1968. The round building, which was built according to the designs of Ulrich Müther and Erich Kaufmann, with the collaboration of Carl-Heinz Pastor and Hans Fleischhauer, bears important witness to modernism in the GDR. It is a listed historic building because of its unusual roof construction.
A circular tea pavilion had existed on the spot, directly next to this seaside resort’s lighthouse, since the 1920s. That building was destroyed when it fell victim to arson in 1945. Two decades later, a replacement was erected on the same site in an extremely short time frame. The new building, with its curvaceous concrete shell roof, was finished in just seven months.
The Teepott’s engineer, Ulrich Müther, was a true pioneer of concrete shell construction. So-called “hyperbolic paraboloid shells” – doubly curved surfaces – are his architectural trademark. Only a few centimetres thick, these masterful achievements of engineering can span even large halls without internal supports. Müther’s structures, which possess a lightness and expressiveness – and also provided an alternative to prefabricated slab-type construction of the time – soon became leading exports. In his 36 years of professional life, Müther designed more than 70 concrete shell structures at home and abroad, thus making him one of the most important promoters of East German engineering artistry.
The Teepott in Warnemünde is an outstanding example of Müther’s innovative method of building. Its shell structure has a total surface area of around 1,200 square metres. It is ten centimetres thick at the edges and just seven centimetres thick in the middle. The weight of the roof rests on three upright reinforced concrete supports – an airy structure.
The Teepott was extensively refurbished in 1985/1986. Following the demise of the GDR, the building stood empty for many years. The original spatial concept was abandoned when the building was again refurbished in 2001/2002, and its status as a listed historical monument was reduced to comprise only the concrete shell. Today the building houses restaurants, cafés and shops. [KL/DK]
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