Serene Tseng wanders through Berlin's inner courtyards, discovering the city's Art Nouveau gems.
Façades of ornate tiling and flora, in true Art Nouveau style.
Think of Art Nouveau and you might picture organic curves of flora and fauna, fusing the strong lines of glass and iron. Emerging from the expanding range of European design in the late 19th century, Art Nouveau, known as Jugendstil in Germany and Austria, is characterized by flowing lines and ornate tiling, with elements harking back to natural forms. Not only did Art Nouveau design find its way into furniture and décor, but also into graphic design and architecture. And despite the destruction brought on by the two World Wars, Berlin still offers a few notable examples of this attractive floral style.
One distinctive feature of many Jugendstil façades in Berlin are artfully arranged, colorful ceramic tiles. Conveying a sense of movement and liveliness, this characteristic blurs the distinction between ornament and function. A notable example can be found in the
Hackesche Höfe inner courtyards. Designed in 1906 by August Endell, the eight interconnected courtyards are home to façades decorated with polychrome glazed bricks. The first courtyard in particular has bold blue tiling that contrasts with the white and gold accents in patterns evocative of motion. Elsewhere in Mitte, the Tietz Brothers’
office building at Klosterstr. 64 is a fine example of Jugendstil design. Built between 1904–1906 as the administrative building for the brothers' department store, the façade features columns broken up by ornate plant-filled reliefs. The inner courtyards have two-toned wall exteriors, with the green tiles in sharp contrast to the white in an undulating arrangement.
There are many other examples of this style around town, but the apartment complex at
Thomassiusstr. 5 (Moabit, U Turmstraße) is one of the most beautiful: composed of shallow reliefs of flora coupled with geometric shapes, the building also features oxidized copper segments outlining the horizontal lines, contrasting sharply with the light-colored exterior, while a pediment bearing an engraved copper face sits atop the façade, crowning the Jugendstil gem.
The tiled façade of a Hackesche Höfe courtyard.