Return to the Horrorhaus: Hans Poelzig’s nightmare expressionism, 1908-1935

Two years ago, I introduced my readers to the work of the German expressionist architect Hans Poelzig. Many were doubtless familiar with his buildings already. What I sought to highlight, though, was the sheer scariness of his architecture. Hence “scary architecture.” SOCKS Studio, always excellent and often operating on the same wavelength, also put up a post on Poelzig around the same time.

In the time that has passed, I have amassed hundreds more high-quality images of plans, sketches, and period photographs of Poelzig’s built work. Needless to say, they aren’t any less scary than before. One could easily imagine Max Schreck’s Nosferatu lurking in the corridors of these structures, with Caligari’s hypnotized somnambulist dashing madly over their rooftops. Alfred Kubin’s monsters threaten to burst forth at any minute.

Flights of fancy aside, these really are stunning images. Dark, peculiar, and unexpected. I’m not sure what lends them this eerie quality, especially as a range of different building types are depicted, delineated, or photographed. Yet all of Poelzig’s structures share this tenebrous aspect, whether one takes his elegant cinema palaces, ominous monuments, or frightening industrial complexes (see the acid factory and gas works). Great stuff.

Click any of the following thumbnails to see the images in higher resolution, and scroll through to see more. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Return to the Horrorhaus: Hans Poelzig’s nightmare expressionism, 1908-1935

      • Oops. I guess that’s a bit obvious.
        “The film – and by extension, the character of Hjalmar Poelzig – draws inspiration from the life of occultist Aleister Crowley.[6] The name Poelzig was borrowed from architect Hans Poelzig, whom Ulmer claimed to have worked with on the sets for Paul Wegener’s silent film The Golem.”

  1. Interesting stuff.
    Came across poelzig during arch studies. None had a better grasp of the darker soul of Germanic gothic .
    Saw the grosses frdtspielhaus by accident before it was demolished but only on the outside. Now I know why!
    But you can see the influence in more solid heirs like Haring .

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