Dom Schminke
Fot. Stiftung Haus Schminke, autor: Marcel Schroeder

Schminke house in Löbau: one of the main icons of classical modernism

The Schminke House in Löbau, also known as the ‘Pasta Steamer’, ranks among the four most important residential buildings of classical modernism worldwide. The other three are: The Tugendhat House in Brno, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1931, the Villa Savoye in Poissy near Paris by Le Corbusier in 1929 and the Fallingwater House (Kaufman Residence) in Pennsylvania designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939. This architectural marvel, designed by Hans Scharoun, deserves special attention for its unique construction, light, space and atmosphere, which attract architecture lovers. Tours of the house are possible with both audio and guided tours, and visitors can even spend the night in this remarkable building or hold an event there.

The Schminke House was built between 1930 and 1933 on behalf of Charlotte and Fritz Schminke – owners of a thriving pasta factory. They had clear requirements for their future house, which was to stand in the vicinity of their business. Fritz defined his expectations concisely and practically: “A modern house for two parents, four children and occasionally for one to two guests.” A key aspect was to combine work and living and technology with nature, creating the conditions for a safe and relaxed family life. Views of the garden were to be unobstructed and all living areas were to be on the south side. Running the farm was to be easy, as only one housekeeper was to support the housewife in housework and childcare.

1930s Source: Innendekoration: mein Heim, mein Stolz; die gesamte Wohnungskunst in Bild und Wort – 45.1934

The architect took all the suggestions of the Schminke family into account and thus one of his most iconic masterpieces was created. Upon entering the property, a wide access road leads to the main entrance, which is covered by a widely projecting roof. This roof, which looks particularly futuristic in the night light, also serves the practical function of providing protection from the rain. The vestibule leads directly into the main hall, which connects the three functional zones of the house: living, sleeping and housekeeping. The elongated ground floor living room on the east side has an entrance to the conservatory. The south-facing sun streams into the room through the factory-facing windows, and on the north side, a view of the garden opens up thanks to large glazing extending from the ceiling to the floor. The transparency of the building’s construction means that the boundary between inside and outside disappears, and the living area on the ground floor visually transitions into the garden.

Dom Schminke
Photo Stiftung Haus Schminke, by Marcel Schroeder

From the factory side, the house gives the impression of being rather modest and airtight; the entrance and utility rooms are located here. The upper floor is dedicated to bedrooms and a guest area. Compared to the ground floor, it presents a rather spartan appearance. The bedrooms were intended to serve as a refuge from the hustle and bustle of family life. The children’s rooms, with their reduced space to a minimum, resemble berths on a ship. An extended living space for the family was the garden, which was transformed into an additional living area in summer. In addition to the garden for flowers and relaxation, Charlotte Schminke had a vegetable garden of about 11,000 square metres established on the neighbouring plot. The family’s original orchard is still located here today. Architect Scharoun gave all the rooms of the house a uniform style. He combined lamps and recessed furniture with an expressive colour concept. Much of the colour scheme of the time has been lost, as have the original wallpaper colours, so it is difficult to imagine today how picturesque the interiors once were. Despite this, the Schminke House still radiates joy, which was the deliberate intention of the investor couple and the architect.

Photo Stiftung Haus Schminke, by Marcel Schroeder

In 1945, the house was confiscated by the Red Army and then returned to the family in 1946, simultaneously with the expropriation of the pasta factory. During this time, Charlotte Schminke set up a holiday centre in the house for children from bombed-out Dresden. After the war, Fritz Schminke was declared a war criminal and left the GDR in 1950, moving to West Germany, where he divorced Charlotte in 1953. The Schminke House was then leased to the city of Löbau, which set up a club for the Free German Youth and later the ‘Pioneers’ House’. It was not until after German reunification that the house began to serve a public function, allowing visitors and events.

Photo Stiftung Haus Schminke, by Marcel Schroeder

Hans Scharoun, born in Bremen in 1893, was one of the leading architects of modernism. His works, such as the Schminke House, the Charlottenburg-Nord estate or the schools in Lünen and Marl, are still recognised today as examples of friendly and functional construction. Scharoun died in 1972 in Berlin, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire generations of architects. He completed numerous projects during his creative career, but he himself stated: “The house commissioned by the industrialist Schminke in Löbau was the most dear to me.”

The Schminke House in Löbau is not only an architectural masterpiece, but also a testament to the history and life of the Schminke family. Its unique design, history and the possibility to visit it make it a must-see for any lover of modernism.

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Read also: Single-family house | Modernism | History | Germany | Interesting facts

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