The Liederhalle in Stuttgart, one of the most extraordinary arts buildings of the 1950s, is among the best-known examples of postwar architecture in Germany. The asymmetrical complex was realized in 1955–56 by the architect and anthroposophist Rolf Gutbrod in collaboration with Adolf Abel, who worked under Paul Bonatz in the 1920s. In 1991, Gutbrod’s former colleague Wolfgang Henning enlarged the Liederhalle with its three main halls into an arts and congress center by adding three further halls.
The Choral Society (Stuttgarter Liederkranz) had already erected a venue in the center of town in 1864. Destroyed in World War II, Gutbrod and Abel won the competition to build its successor in 1949. Their unusually multifaceted artistic plan combines elements of Expressionism with an organic architectural vocabulary. The Liederhalle features a contrasting alternation of round and linear forms, a juxtaposition of different building structures, and an imaginative mix of materials. This playful eclecticism breaks with the austere functionalism of New Objectivity architecture on the one hand as well as with the monumentalism of the Third Reich on the other.
The Beethoven Hall is the soaring eye-catcher of the ensemble. Its curved, exposed-concrete outer walls contrast with the rectangular Silcher Hall and its clinker-brick façade. The pentagonal Mozart Hall on the southwest corner features a decorative mosaic façade by the Munich artist Blasius Spreng. All three halls are connected to each other via a spacious central foyer.
The design motifs from the outer walls are taken up again in the halls. Spreng’s quartzite mosaic tiles can also be found on the walls and floor of the Mozart Hall. Playful details from Gutbrod and Abel’s ornate composition such as a light
fountain, stairways, and flowing transitions between the various levels are consequently continued inside the building.
With a view to style, the extension by Wolfgang Henning encompassing the Hegel and Schiller Halls blends seamlessly into the landmark main building. The ensemble is the hub of Stuttgart’s arts and congress operations. [KM]
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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.