Chilehaus, Hamburg, in 1929. © RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Amasterpiece of Expressionist architecture, Hamburg’s Chilehaus was built as part of a programme by the city council to clean up insalubrious areas. With its upper storeys recessed to circumvent height restrictions, the brick office building provided accommodation for 4,500 workers and gained international recognition for its architect, Fritz Höger (1877-1949).

Brick was well suited to Hamburg’s damp climate but was also held to symbolise traditional German values such as honesty and sincerity. It was thus regarded by Höger and others as a colourful, indigenous riposte to the monochrome International Style. Höger’s work was much admired in England where it influenced buildings such as the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon (1932).

Article by Robert Elwall,   British Architectural Library , RIBA