Ferdinand Stadler

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Ferdinand Stadler, lithograph

(Caspar) Ferdinand Stadler (born February 23, 1813 in Zurich ; † March 24, 1870 there ) was a Swiss architect from the generation before Semper . Among other things, he designed the city ​​church of Glarus , the Elisabethenkirche (Basel) and the Christ Church in Nazareth .


From being a productive carpenter, he became one of the first architects in Switzerland to make a living from mere design. After founding the Polytechnic , he was the first to fill the position of teacher for building construction.

Stadler was an early representative of historicism ; his trademark was neo-Gothic church buildings. With two exceptions, a house in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and the Christ Church in Nazareth, his buildings are in Switzerland, most of them in Zurich .

In the eyes of his contemporaries, Stadler did not belong to the first guard of architects; he was denied a really large, secular building such as the Bundeshaus or Zurich Main Station . Andreas Hauser's catalog raisonné lists 197 works, many of which were built. Later, however, mainly the secular buildings were demolished, but only a few of the churches.

Stadler's competitors ( Leonhard Zeugheer , Gustav Albert Wegmann , Joseph Caspar Jeuch ), who mainly built secular buildings, fell victim to this development in retrospect. If one measures the importance based on the number of buildings preserved today, Stadler is one of the most important historicist architects in Switzerland.

Matthäuskirche in the center of Lucerne


Origin and childhood

The landmark of Glarus, the city church

Ferdinand's great-grandfather Hans Conrad (1712–1774), his grandfather of the same name (1752–1819) and father Johann Caspar (1786–1867) were construction professionals, the father continued the large carpentry business in line with tradition. Stadler senior had ten children with his wife Elisabeth, born Morf, Ferdinand was the eldest and was destined to take over the parental business later. The younger brother August Conrad was to become a bricklayer like the younger brother (Hans Conrad) of the father. His other brother Johann Jakob Stadler became a landscape painter .

At the age of ten he was already drawing in his father's studio under the guidance of employees. In May 1825 he joined the "Hünische Privatinstitut Horgen ", a predominantly commercial school. At 15, his father sent him to Geneva for a short time to see Ferdinand's cousin Carl Wilhelm Hirschgartner (1806–1840), an architect.

Before he had to do an apprenticeship as a carpenter on his father's instructions against his will , he worked for an engineer Mayer until May 1829. The pubescent Stadler developed a self-confidence, he suggested to his father after the first year of apprenticeship in 1830 that he should become an artist. Under the circumstances, however, this proposal had no chance. Ferdinand successfully completed his apprenticeship in 1832 after three years.

Teenage years, carpenter

During his apprenticeship he founded an architecture association with his friend Gustav Albert Wegmann (1812–1858). The SIA did not exist back then. After their apprenticeship, nothing stopped them from exploring the world. A trip to Karlsruhe followed , where the architect Friedrich Weinbrenner had once taught. After his death, a polytechnic was founded in October 1825 , headed by Heinrich Hübsch . Wegmann and Stadler were among the first students after working hard and hardship in their respective professions over the summer. Another important teacher later was Friedrich Eisenlohr .

From Karlsruhe, Ferdinand traveled to Mainz , Speyer , Worms and Oppenheim , where he studied the cathedral . The enthusiasm for sacred buildings should last his life. As a youth, Stadler was probably a gymnast like his friend, Wegmann's biographer reports: “The sprightly gymnasts weren't afraid of the airy spiral staircases (...).” They liked to climb the towers in the cities they visited to admire the architecture .

In 1835, Stadler separated from Wegmann and toured Munich , Vienna , Prague and Dresden , where he met the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel . He also recommended him to Gottfried Semper , with whom, however, no friendly relationship developed. This break would run through Stadler's whole life, Semper belonged to a new school and later commented disparagingly on Stadler and his historicist buildings. In juries he should consistently and successfully reject Stadler's designs. That year Stadler won his first prize in an architecture competition, and the plans for the Neumünster Church in Zurich were awarded third place out of 14 submissions.

In 1838 Stadler built a house with a corner tower for the Baur family on Bahnhofstrasse . He worked full-time as a carpenter in his father's company. On June 6, 1840, he married Barbara Waser, who was three years his junior. He and Bertha Barbara became a father for the first time on February 5, 1841, followed by Ferdinand in 1842, Elise Henriette the following year and Emma in 1845.

Ferdinand Stadler's own home in Zurich-Enge

Despite limited transport options at the time, Stadler took part in a competition for a stock exchange building in Frankfurt am Main in 1840 . His entry won second prize out of 37 submissions. From 1842 Stadler devoted himself only to architecture.


In the same year, plans were made for another house for Professor Locher on Bahnhofstrasse. The Augustinian Church in Zurich, one of the four churches in the city center, was reconstructed and expanded by Ferdinand Stadler. Another “house” on Lake Zurich was built for the Forcart family from Basel. The house of the Forcart family, called Villa Rosau, is the last residential building designed by Stadlers and is now home to the Baur au Lac Club. The term residential building in connection with Stadler's work can usually be equated with a villa. Stadler is said to have complained about only drawing such houses and neglecting simpler houses.

In 1845 Stadler built the Lengnau synagogue , one of only two places where Jews were allowed to settle at the time. When the Swiss Northern Railway from Zurich to Baden was being built in 1846 , Stadler supplied plans for the Baden train station and some wooden bridges, and various villas were built on the side.

In that year his uncle Hans Conrad Stadler died and left behind an unfinished Gothic abdication chapel at Promenadengasse 13. Ferdinand completes the assignment for him, although Ferdinand's exact contribution to the work is not known. Another important work by Stadler is the church in Obfelden with plans from 1847. When Stadler visited Munich in 1848, the Rothpelz family's villa in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse , then part of Bavaria, was completed according to his plans. King Ludwig of Bavaria is said to have been full of praise for the building.

Stadler dealt with another topic at the time: The young Confederation needed a building for the Federal Assembly, Federal Council and Federal Administration. After the die was cast for Bern on the question of the capital , the Bern City Council held a competition. Stadler's design was able to convince the jury the most, while an unofficial jury from the architects' association placed it in third place. Stadler let himself be unsettled by critics and revised his draft, which, however, met with even less approval. Finally, Jakob Friedrich Studer was awarded the contract in 1851, who took over numerous elements from Stadlers.

Stadler had an aversion to superiors all his life. In any case, starting in 1853 as a structural architect for the Schweizerische Nordostbahn, Stadler was not satisfied; he constantly took part in new architectural competitions. Here he felt in the element and independent, yet the competitions brought enough money. In the NOB era, a new church tower was built for Cham and the Fraumünster was restored. Here Stadler benefited from his profound knowledge of the Gothic style.

In the course of 1855, Stadler was appointed to the newly opened, today's ETH Zurich . He stood up for his friend Ernst Georg Gladbach , who was subsequently appointed to the Polytechnic in 1857. From the spring of 1856, Stadler was the first building construction teacher to hold lectures, but he did not have the rank of professor. However, he felt too restricted to continue taking part in competitions, so he left the Polytechnic in June 1857. In the meantime he planned the church in Unterägeri .

Ferdinand Stadler, Villa Martin Bodmer-Keller in Zurich, built 1856–59
Ferdinand Stadler, staircase of the Villa Martin Bodmer-Keller in Zurich, built 1856–59

The city ​​church of Glarus shows that Stadler did not only build in the neo-Gothic style . It was built as a neo-Romanesque basilica from 1864–1866. However, the execution was entrusted to a general contractor as Stadler's cost estimate was in doubt. Exact cost control was not one of the architect's strengths in other buildings either. At that time the church was used by Catholics and Protestants, today it is a purely Protestant church.

The Villa Windegg is Stadler's most progressive building

In the meantime, Ferdinand Stadler's attention was also drawn abroad; his projects had found recognition and supporters in Amsterdam , as his acceptance as a member of the “Royal Academy of Fine Arts” in Amsterdam in 1863 attests. This only helped to a small extent over the loss of his wife Barbara in March and his mother shortly afterwards. The son Ferdinand, who was later to take over the father's office, died during Ferdinand senior's lifetime in 1865 while studying architecture. Ferdinand lost not only his son, but also his successor in the architectural office.


Stadler's last work: The Evangelical Church in Nazareth

One of his last trips took Ferdinand Stadler to Palestine, where he made the first sketches for a Protestant church in Nazareth . He gave the plans completed at home to the parish, which then took on the construction. The construction of a church in the immediate vicinity of the Annunciation Basilica represented a high point in Stadler's career. However, he was no longer to witness the inauguration on October 1, 1871. Tired of the personal downpours, he died of pneumonia on March 24, 1870, shortly after his 57th birthday.

Stadler's style

Since historicism tries to imitate the past, it is difficult to describe a specific Stadler style. Basically he built in the neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic style. The most important distinguishing feature are the round (Romanesque) or pointed (Gothic) arches over windows and doors.

Stadler built the ribbed vaults typical of the original Gothic style from wood instead of stone. Stadler thus acquired many enemies that the vaults were fake. The Unterägeri church and the Augustinian church in Zurich were decorated with non-load-bearing vaults, while the Elisabethenkirche in Basel has a brick vault.

But Stadler also liked to use wooden ceilings for the neo-Romanesque buildings, for example the town church in Glarus. In this example, the natural wood gives the church a warm, simple and modern look.

While stone was used to build in the Middle Ages, Stadler tried to build his buildings more cost-effectively with brick, which was modern at the time. In the absence of a brick factory, the houses were mostly made of sandstone. The capital was often reduced in Stadler's buildings or omitted entirely.


The country house in Rifferswil is the best preserved villa in Stadler

Stadler's buildings had a hard time in the middle of the 20th century. The Zurich city center around Bahnhofstrasse, which he structurally shaped with residential buildings, changed into a pure business address. Historicism was also frowned upon at times. Because many decorations in the churches were made of wood instead of stone, historicism was decried as a carpenter's Gothic . Stadler's changes to the Augustinian Church were reversed in the 1950s except for the enlargement and the windows.

The town church in Glarus burned down in 1940, but it was professionally restored. After a second major restoration from 1995 to 1999, it was awarded the Europa Nostra Medal .

The Elisabethenkirche in Basel also had a difficult time in the middle of the 20th century. The construction of the theater right next to the church took away much of its exclusive location. The church should even give way to a parking garage. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that a trend reversal set in, when the neo-Gothic was recognized as an expression of its own epoch. The church was carefully restored in the 1990s and has been operating as an open church ever since. The restrained use in the past century also had its good side: Many details inside the church have been preserved.

It is unique that the country house in Rifferswil is the only residential building that has been used continuously as such. Therefore, much of the interior remains from the construction period.

The Villa Rosau was completely renovated in 2016–2020 at great expense and in close coordination with the preservation authorities. The small late classical palace has been used as the seat of the Club Baur au Lac since 1970 and includes a. a. Bar and restaurant rooms, banquet halls, conference and meeting rooms as well as terraces facing the lake.

Today's English Church in Zurich

The cemetery chapel on the High Promenade in Zurich was built on two sides and converted over the years, as the adjacent cemetery was closed. Today the chapel is called "Saint Andrews Church", it is a church for English speakers. The pinnacles , which are important for a Gothic church , were removed and the character of the church was thus distorted.

"Semperhaus" in Stäfa

Another example of a private building is the so-called Semperhaus in Stäfa on Lake Zurich. It was mistakenly ascribed to Gottfried Semper for a long time , since Stadler was lecturing at the Polytechnic at the same time as Semper and a picture by Semper was hanging in the house. The villa was built as an industrial villa for a textile manufacturer. After the economic crisis of the 1920s / 1930s, the canton of Zurich bought the property and set up the notary's office there for 60 years. At the beginning of 2001, the property was sold by the canton, carefully restored by private individuals with the involvement of the Cantonal Monument Preservation Council, and returned exclusively to residential purposes. The property is now a cantonal monument.

Villa in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, one of two buildings in Germany

Other works

  • Elisabethenkirche (Basel)
  • Matthew Church in Lucerne
  • Reformed Church Oberentfelden
  • Reformed church in Baar ZG , the first reformed church in the canton of Zug
  • Villa Rosau, on the lake at Schanzengraben , Zurich
  • 1850 "Semperhaus", Seestrasse 75, Stäfa
  • Church tower, reformed church, Stäfa
  • Villa Schneeli, Falkenstrasse 20, Zurich, demolished in 1928
  • Villa "zum neue Sihlgarten", Sihlstrasse Zurich, built 1856–1859 for the silk manufacturer Martin Bodmer-Keller, demolished in 1928
  • Villa "Grabenhof", Fröschengraben (later Bahnhofstrasse) Zurich, built 1861–1863 for Chief Justice Johann Jakob Escher-Bodmer, demolished after 1915
  • Museum Society House, Limmatquai 62, Zurich, completed in 1868, has been preserved
  • Commercial museum , then girls' high school, Winterthur
  • Villa in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse , built in 1848 (one of two houses by Stadler in Germany)


  • R. Hofmeister: The life of the architect Ferdinand Stadler . In: Neujahrsblatt 1872, Künstlergesellschaft Zürich [Hrsg.], Zürich 1872
  • Andreas Hauser: Ferdinand Stadler: A contribution to the history of historicism in Switzerland . Krauthammer, Zurich 1976

Web links

Commons : Ferdinand Stadler  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Andreas Hauser, Peter Röllin: Bern . In: Society for Swiss Art History (Hrsg.): Inventory of recent Swiss architecture , 1850-1920: Cities . tape 2 . Orell Füssli, Zurich 1986, ISBN 3-280-01716-5 , p. 384-385 , doi : 10.5169 / seals-3534 .
  2. Archive link ( Memento of the original from March 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.gebrueder-duerst.ch