Monday, November 3, 2008

German Apartment 1903 and the Peacock Sconce

As I was walking a small city street in Karlsruhe, Germany, I gazed up at a beautiful apartment building from the arts and crafts movement. The street was apparently upper class and residential. I was visiting Karlsruhe during my studying abroad. Karlsruhe is near the french-german border and next to the black forest and therefore has a strong influence of the french as well as beautiful woodworking such as the iconic wooden coo-coo clocks.

As I stood there with my mouth open staring up, an older woman walked up beside me with a bag of groceries from a nearby market. She asked me in German how I liked the building. I told her that I loved the varying windows and art nouveau emphasis underneath the porch and spaces protruding off the main facade. The woman seemed impressed with my knowledge of architecture and I explained that I was studying to be an architect at a college in town. She surprised me when she responded that she lived on the 4th floor and offered to show me the inside if I carried her grocery bags. I graciously accepted and followed her into the building.

The indoor staircase was constructed of wrought iron and was designed with an art nouveau style with swirls like a vine. The stairs were tiring but her apartment was worth the climb. The inside space was richly designed with beautifully crafted woodwork, rich fabrics and grand mirrors. My favorite part of her home was by far the sconce over her oversized fireplace. My visit to Germany was regretfully only a semester long, but I am grateful to have had a chance to experience the country for what it is worth.

This German apartment building, built in 1903 was from the arts and crafts movement as well as some influence of the art nouveau movement. This building relates to the peacock sconce beacause of its embrace of nature with the peacock motif as well as its embrace of the industrial movement with the use of metals to craft it. This building is starkly different from the American arts and craft buildings such as the Robie House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright focus's more on the idea of blending the home into the landscape with a strong horizontal emphasis.

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