Department store Dr. H. Ehrlicher

If you’ve ever been to Munich, then chances are very good that you have walked past this building. But chances are also very good that you did not pay notice to this building (the right building on the picture below) and would not connect this with Sep Ruf. But this department store exactly opposite the Jesuit church St. Michael in Munich’s pedestrian area (“Fußgängerzone”) has been designed by the Bavarian architect 1961-63 and is a major work of the German post-war modernity in Munich. Since 1998 it is under historical preservation protection.

Geschäftshaus Dr. H. Ehrlicher (Sep Ruf, 1961-63)

The building is supported by a steel framework, so that the sales floors do not need any supporting pillars. The floors are aligned as split-floors around an atrium crossing the whole building. Unfortunately this uncompromisingly modern store has been modified: the roof has been extended, the first floor lost its balcony and the layout of the stairs is no longer in its original state.

Sep Ruf’s Nazi buildings in Allach

1930s,architecture,education,munich,tradition — Benedikt @ 2:01 pm

Volksschule Allach (Sep Ruf, 1936-40)

This ensemble of buildings from the late 1930s in Munich-Allach could be seen as Sep Ruf’s darkest hour. While his single-family houses in Gräfelfing and Lochham have many modernist details like cubist shapes, pronounced horizontal windows that seem like ribbon glazings and of course rounded balconies, his Allach buildings are as far from Sep Ruf’s other buildings as possible. The ensemble consists of a primary school (Volksschule) built from 1936 to 1940, a 1937/38 built hostel for the League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädels), the female branch of the Nazi party youth movement, a nursery and the “Hochlandheim”, a Hitler Youth hostel (Hitlerjugend-Heim) from 1938/39 that even won prizes on an exhibition for Nazi architecture.

Volksschule Allach (Sep Ruf, 1936-40)

One could argue that the buildings might be a hint too little monumental for official Nazi buildings, that they have a few windows too much compared with other educational facilities of the late 1930s – but all in all these buildings are not modern and have nothing in common with the Sep Ruf of the 1950s that became one of the most internationally acclaimed architects in Germany. These buildings were built as physical manifestations of Nazi ideology. Perhaps the only way for Sep Ruf, who had not been a member of the National Socialist party, to stay in business. But still this is conformism. I find myself asking, what these buildings do to the children visiting the kindergarten and school today. Is democratic education possible in Nazi surroundings?

HJ-Heim "Hochlandheim" Allach (Sep Ruf, 1938/39)

BDM-Heim mit Kinderhort Allach (Sep Ruf, 1937/38)

BDM-Heim mit Kinderhort Allach (Sep Ruf, 1937/38)

Hochbunker an der Volksschule Allach (Sep Ruf)


Apartment building on Heßstraße

1950s,architecture,living,modernism,munich — Benedikt @ 11:31 pm

Wohnhaus (Sep Ruf, 1952)

Here are another building by German modernist architect Sep Ruf, that is not as well known as for example his Neue-Max-Burg buildings or the bungalows above Tegernsee. It’s an five story apartment house on Heßstraße in Munich-Maxvorstadt. While it does not appear as floating or weightless as many of his other buildings, it still embraces the idea of openness as is clearly stated by the large balcony. And with its narrow windows (unfortunately replaced with noise reduction windows that compromise the overall impression a bit) so typical for Ruf’s architecture, it does carry a certain elegance. The house had been constructed in 1952 for the co-owners of the property.

Wohnhaus (Sep Ruf, 1952)

Neue Max-Burg in Munich

Neue Max-Burg

In the 16th century, William V, Duke of Bavaria, built a new palace near the Michaelskirche and the Jesuit monastery on Neuhauserstraße. In 17th century this residence became known as “Herzog-Max-Burg” because of duke and regent Maximilian Philipp choosing this building as domicile.

During Second World War the Max-Burg had been destroyed almost completely. Only the tower remained more or less intact. From 1954 to 1957 Sep Ruf (1908-82; see also here and here) and Theo Pabst (1905-79; see also his department store) constructed a new building complex on this historical location: the “Neue Max-Burg”. The building had been used as a juridical building and is internationally acclaimed for the intelligent and innovative combination of old and new. Ruf and Pabst modeled the raster and color of the facade after the appearance of the renaissance tower. But they did this without any hint of historicism: the ferro-concrete construction remains visible. Another highlight is the freely suspended canopy above the entrance.

While architectural critics praised the Neue Max-Burg as one of the most interesting modern buildings in architecturally conservative Munich, the population needed much time to adapt to this building.

Neue Max-Burg

Neue Max-Burg

Max-Burg-Anlage von Theo Pabst und Sep Ruf, 1953-7

Neue Max-Burg


Apartment building in Schwabing

1950s,architecture,living,modernism,munich — Benedikt @ 1:19 pm

Wohnhaus mit Läden und Atelier (Ruf, 1951-53)

Two days before the Sep Ruf exhibition at Munich’s architectural museum will open, here’s another characteristic building of this architect: A seven storey apartment building in Schwabing that Ruf built in 1951-53. Although quite large for the surroundings, the façade does not appear in the least bulky or clumsy. The vertical line is very beautifully accentuated by the elegant white frames. At the top of the building had been Ruf’s own studio.

Kaufhof at Stachus


When this building had been built in 1950-51 by Theo Pabst, it had a euphoric touch to it. This Kaufhof had been the first new department store that had been built in Munich after Second World War. It was a symbol of the new economic growth and increasing affluence of the citizens. But as historians will tell you, there had not been a complete break with the nazi system (“Stunde Null“). Many of those involved in the daily crimes of the regime were back in power at this point of time. This especially holds true for the architects.

In my opinion this building is a very striking symbol of the mixture of break and continuity after the “Third Reich”. The left and larger part of the building which faces busy Sonnenstraße is modernist cube with grid facade and a flat pillared roof. But the right part of the building facing Bayerstraße looks much more conservative with its pitched roof. Munich city administration insisted on this design. Althogh both parts are joined together by a curved gallery which once had a terrace café, they convey a inharmonic impression. Modernity and tradition does not match all too well in this building.

Kaufhof und Justizpalast

Kaufhof am Stachus (Pabst, 1950/51)

Former post office headquarters in Munich (Oberpostdirektion)

1920s,architecture,munich,post office — Benedikt @ 11:36 pm

Ehem. Oberpostdirektion (Vorhoelzer, Werner, 1922-24)

Another very fine example of bavarian post architecture is the former Oberpostdirektion München (post office headquarters) on Arnulfstraße 60. This building has been constructed by Robert Vorhoelzer and Georg Werner, who later became famous for their exceptionally modern buildings of the Bayerische Postbauschule in 1922-24 (see for example here) and was at its time the largest administrative building in town. It originally comprised 530 rooms on 40,000 sqm office area.

The remarkable expressionist window décor has been designed by Eugen Kindler. In 2005 the building has been sold to a property fund and is currently being renovated and marketed as “Art Déco Palais Munich”. And please don’t ask me what those strange pyramids are doing on the roofs of the seven-story towers on the corners of the building. Feng-shui or public art? In any case they diminish the noble appearance of the ensemble.

Ehem. Oberpostdirektion (Vorhoelzer, Werner, 1922-24)

Ehem. Oberpostdirektion (Vorhoelzer, Werner, 1922-24)

Ehem. Oberpostdirektion (Vorhoelzer, Werner, 1922-24)

See also

Munich American High School at Perlacher Forst

1950s,architecture,modernism,munich,us army — Benedikt @ 10:40 am

Schule in der Amerikanischen Siedlung (Loibl, 1955)

After the war, the US miltary administration erected many buildings for their staff in Germany. A fine example of modern architecture in post-war Munich was the US school centre at the housing area Cincinattistraße / General-Kalb-Weg (Google Map) in quiet suburban Perlach. The housing area had been built in the 1950s by Karl Loibl, Hans A. Endres, Immanuel Kroeker, Otto Roth and Carl Kergl and included a cinema, a PX store and a hamburger restaurant.
Not only had the school been built after the modern concept of age-specific environments – small buildings for the 60 children in primary school and larger buildings for the 30 children in secondary – buit had all the amenities like recreational rooms and a cafeteria – then unknown in German schools.
Unfortunately the friendly and light original architecture has been heavily modified between 1994 and 2003 and the characteristic 1950s interior decoration has been lost completely.

Schule in der Amerikanischen Siedlung (Loibl, 1955)

High school

Schule in der Amerikanischen Siedlung (Loibl, 1955)


Wohnhaus in der Amerikanischen Siedlung (Loibl, 1955)

Apartment house

See also:

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