What Is German Architecture Called


German architecture has a long and complex history. It is the result of centuries of creativity of architects, many of them educated in Germany, who have inflected their unique vision on the built environment. From the grand gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the modernist skyscrapers of today, German architecture has a wide range of stylistic expressions. In this article, we will explore what is referred to as German architecture, and take a deep dive into its historical roots and key characteristics.

Early German Architecture

The earliest examples of German architecture date back to around 1000 BCE. During the Early Middle Ages, German architecture underwent a transformation, with churches and monasteries being built in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. These architectural styles combined elements of both Christianity and Roman culture, creating a distinct look and feel. German cathedrals and other religious structures from this period are some of the most iconic in the world, with the Cologne Cathedral and the Speyer Cathedral being some of the best examples.

Industrial Era German Architecture

The Industrial Revolution brought about a new era of German architecture. This era was characterized by a more modern approach, where materials, technology, and innovations all played a bigger role. Buildings and structures became bigger and taller, as seen in the famous Bauhaus style of the early 20th century. While the industrial era was largely characterized by modernity, there still remains a striking, unique style of German architecture that has persisted today.

Modern German Architecture

Modern German architecture has been greatly influenced by worldwide trends, such as modernism and postmodernism. While there are many different interpretations and variations of modern German architecture, the common thread is that it tends to be more experimental, with architects emphasizing functionality and form. One of the most prominent categories of modern German architecture is the use of innovative materials, such as curtain wall systems, steel, glass, and plastic. Many modern German structures, such as the BMW Welt in Munich, combine traditional and modern elements to create unique, eye-catching designs.

Common Elements and Design Principles

Despite German architecture’s varied history, there are some elements that tend to remain consistent. German architecture often incorporates a mix of materials, such as stone, brick, and steel. The layout of these buildings often relies heavily on symmetry and balance, utilizing lines, curves, and shapes to create an aesthetically pleasing effect. Another key element in German architecture is the incorporation of nature. Many churches and cathedrals, for example, incorporate gardens and landscaping, as well as elements of vegetation, such as trees and flowers.

Contemporary Architecture Movements

Contemporary German architecture is still evolving, with various movements and trends gaining popularity. Sustainable architecture, which emphasizes green materials and energy-efficient design, is a major trend in the country. Another popular movement, Neuer Bauen (New Building), focuses on the use of modern materials and techniques, such as steel and aluminum, to create structures with a more industrial feel. In addition, hypermodernism, which incorporates glass and steel, is also gaining traction in Germany.


German architecture is an eclectic mix of styles, from the grand cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the contemporary, cutting-edge designs of today. No matter what style of architecture one is looking for, Germany is sure to have something for everyone. From traditional to modern, German architecture stands out for its unique aesthetic and functional appeal.

Impact of Technology

In recent years, technology has had a significant impact on German architecture. Architects today have access to a wide range of tools and technologies that can help them bring their vision to life. 3D modeling tools, such as Autodesk Revit and Sketchup, allow architects to create highly detailed plans and renderings of their proposed structures. Software such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) also helps architects coordinate design tasks, making it easier to manage complex projects.

Architects Working in the Field

The architects who work in Germany have made a lasting impact on the country’s built environment. Notable figures like Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Ludwig Mies have all made significant contributions to modern German architecture. Today, there is a new wave of talented architects taking the helm, such as David Chipperfield, Thomas Spranger, and Tobias Wallisser, all of whom have created award-winning projects that showcase their creativity and technical skills.

Numerous Awards

German architecture continues to be recognized worldwide for its quality and innovation. The country’s most prestigious architecture award, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is awarded annually to an architect who has “produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment”. Recent recipients of the award include the Stuttgart-based firm Graft Architekten in 2020 and Thomas Phifer in 2021.

Germany at the Forefront of High-Quality Architecture

Germany is one of the most exciting countries for architecture. Its rich history, plentiful resources, and commitment to innovation have resulted in some of the highest-quality structures in the world. Whether you are looking for a traditional design or a modern masterpiece, German architecture is sure to have something to suit your needs.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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