With its attention-grabbing, tall tiled roof visiblefrom afar, Holstentorhalle in Lübeck is an outstanding example of northern German Brick Expressionism. It was built in 1926, designed by the architect Friedrich Wilhelm Virck, who at the time was a senior official in Lübeck’s building department. The hall was opened during the celebrations of the seven-hundredth anniversary of Lübeck’s granting of Imperial immediacy. Today, the building is used by the Lübeck University of Music.
The tall roof conceals a pointed arch construction, which is revealed only from the inside. The artful load-bearing structure recalls Gothic churches and yet also testifies to the influence of Expressionism – as do the short sides of the building, which are composed of large, four-level stepped gables with semicircular façade projections. The striking entrance portal, which projects from the center of the long side, has four gated arches framing bright-red doors, and is crowned by a frieze of dark clinker bearing the symbol of the double eagle.
Large vertical ribbon windows, articulated bywhite crossbars, are arranged in a row along the long sides. From outside, they structure the brick façade and, with their modern, Bauhaus-inflected design, form an interesting contrast with the traditional masonry. Inside, they ensure maximum natural light. The ribbon-like arrangement of the windows continues on the short sides. Here, however, the windows do not extend to the ground but are subdivided and rounded off in keeping with the façade projection.
The City of Lübeck was planning to demolish Holstentorhalle in the 1970s to make room for a department store. A citizens’ initiative prevented that and arranged for it to be listed as a historical landmark in 1990. The Lübeck architects Chlumsky, Peters and Hildebrand converted it into a concert hall in 1991–92. From 2005 to 2007, it was thoroughly renovated and its interior fundamentally redesigned by the Lübeck architect Kuno Dannien. Using a building-within-a-building concept, he introduced two levels, which the University of Music now uses as classrooms and rehearsal rooms. Its outward appearance remains largely unaltered, including its characteristic pointed-arch roof, which is still eye-catching today. [KM/HY]
Contact and opening hours
Since 2007 the Holstentorhalle has been hosting teaching and rehearsal rooms of the Musikhochschule Lübeck, therefore the rooms are not open to the public.
Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism
Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.