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Mansard roofs in Oberdischingen
In the attic ( Hans Baluschek , 1898)

Attic denotes a room or an apartment in the converted attic , occasionally also the entire attic floor .


In France in the 18th century this was understood to mean a certain roof shape , the so-called “broken roof”: the mansard roof made it easier to install rooms with vertical walls in the roof area and was also more economical due to the lower wood requirement.

The name is derived from the French master builders and architects François Mansart (1598–1666) and his great-nephew Jules Hardouin-Mansart (1646–1708), who made this type of roof construction technique popular in their numerous magnificent buildings in Paris . The architect of the Louvre , Pierre Lescot , who was the first to implement this space-saving idea around 100 years earlier, is considered to be the inventor of the roof shape .

Since the middle of the 18th century, the term - first for the roof, then for the apartment - became common in England , and a little later in the German-speaking area. After 1800 it was part of the German vocabulary : Goethe z. B. used it gladly and frequently and in 1811 praised its “pretty, bright gable room in the attic” in poetry and truth . ”With the increasing proletarianization of cities and the associated increased demand for living space for poorer sections of the population, the attic became a synonym for shabby poor. People living. Even with penniless students and artists that was Chamber popular Attic as cheap accommodation. The Biedermeier painter Carl Spitzweg set a monument to her in his famous painting The Poor Poet in 1839.

In the impoverished cities of the Weimar Republic , the attic finally became a symbol of poverty and need and the associated inventiveness of those willing to survive: buzzwords such as "attic coffee " (for cheap coffee substitute ) and "attic tailor" (for a black woman who worked in her apartment ) from around 1920 Patchmaker ) were typical of that time.

A room in the attic of a house (usually a "villa" or the like) was / is also referred to as an attic that had a window and plastered walls and - similar to a simply furnished living room - was left to the servants of the time to sleep outside the apartment. It could be heated with a single stove. If there was central heating in the house, the attic was also heated. The prerequisite for this type of use was a washing facility in the room and the possibility of being able to use a toilet on the floor.


Today, the - simple - attic apartment is generally still cheaper than an apartment, but it has long since ceased to bear the stigma of poverty: the generously proportioned attic, occasionally even with a balcony or roof terrace , is a sign of urban living culture , especially among younger residents .

In common usage, “attic” and “attic apartment” have largely replaced the sometimes outdated term “attic apartment”. In Austria and Switzerland, “attic apartment” (next to “attic apartment”) is still used.


"I'm in a garret at Belvedere, where a storm wind really rushes into my ears as roughly as possible." ( Christoph Martin Wieland 1774 in a letter to Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi .)

"There is, the residents of the sixth floor know it, an alpine glow of the roofs, which in its comforting, melancholy beauty equals that in the mountains." ( Alfred Polgar , "Praise of the Attic".)

"Since the Nowaks' dwelling was an attic apartment, one had a view over the roofs and at least there was no shortage of daylight." ( Christopher Isherwood , "Willkommen in Berlin".)

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Attic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ NN: Architecture .
  2. ^ Variant dictionary of German , p. 487