In 2010, Robert Elwall looked at Fritz Höger’s brick masterpiece on the Elbe…

Chilehaus, Hamburg, 1929

Chilehaus, Hamburg, 1929
Architect: Fritz Höger
Photographer: Francis Rowland Yerbury (© RIBA Library Photographs Collection)

A masterpiece of Expressionist architecture, Hamburg’s Chilehaus was built as part of a programme by the city council to clean up insalubrious areas. With its upper storeys recessed to circumvent height restrictions, the brick office building provided accommodation for 4,500 workers and gained international recognition for its architect, Fritz Höger (1877-1949). Brick was well suited to Hamburg’s damp climate but was also held to symbolize traditional German values such as honesty and sincerity. It was thus regarded by Höger and others as a colourful, indigenous riposte to the monochrome International Style. Höger’s work was much admired in England where it influenced buildings such as the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon (1932).

From an article by Robert Elwall, Assistant Director, British Architectural Library, and originally published in January 2010.

More images are available to view on RIBApix.


About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit

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