SIGHT­SEE­ING

Serene Tseng wan­ders through Ber­lin's in­ner court­yards, dis­cov­er­ing the city's Art Nou­veau gems.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS -

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.

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