Otto Rudolf Salvisberg

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Otto Rudolf Salvisberg (1931)

Otto Rudolf Salvisberg (born October 19, 1882 in Köniz ; † December 23, 1940 in Arosa ) was a Swiss architect who worked in Germany between 1905 and 1930.


After completing his apprenticeship as a draftsman, Salvisberg attended the construction school of the technical center in Biel / Bienne in 1901 , from which he graduated in 1904 with a diploma with distinction. He then traveled to Munich via southern Germany. There Salvisberg attended courses at the Technical University of Munich , where August Thiersch , Friedrich von Thiersch and Karl Hocheder taught. Presumably in 1905 he continued his trip to Karlsruhe. In addition to his employment in the Karlsruhe office of the Swiss architects Robert Curjel and Karl Moser , he also studied with Carl Schäfer at the Technical University of Karlsruhe .

In 1908 he moved to Berlin and got a job with Johann Emil Schaudt in the Schaudt und Zimmereimer office . After the falling out between Schaudt and Paul Zimmerreimer , Salvisberg continued to work with the latter. According to the contemporary assessment of the art critic Paul Westheim, “... within the large-scale operation of this construction company, [he] was the man from whom the designs came, who actually took care of the construction here. The buildings show his signature, are unmistakably documentation of his spirit, although those who did not belong to the initiated never heard of this name. " In 1912 Salvisberg married Emma Marie Roloff, born in 1890. He lived with her at Liliencronstrasse 10 in Berlin-Steglitz before moving into his own house at Oehlertstrasse 13 in Berlin- Südende in 1922 .

In 1914 he finally dared to take the step into self-employment. After the outbreak of war, Salvisberg joined the army of neutral Switzerland, but was soon released from service. In 1917 Otto Rudolf Salvisberg and Otto Brechbühl (1889–1984), whom he had already brought to Berlin after his diploma in 1910, planned to expand the Staaken garden city built by Paul Schmitthenner from 1914 to 1917 to more than double the size. At that time he began a lifelong collaboration with Brechbühl; the architecture office founded by the two in 1922 still exists in Bern today under the name Itten + Brechbühl AG .

Salvisberg spent the following years up to 1930 as an architect in Berlin. He designed and carried out a wide range of construction projects, including the renovation of the Vox House , Geyer-Werke AG in Neukölln, and the striking parish hall of the Matthäuskirche in Steglitz . Outstanding are his residential buildings, including Onkel Toms Hütte and the White City , which exemplify the settlement development of the 20th century from the garden city idea to the modern age .

The Lory Hospital in Bern

Salvisberg's partner Otto Brechbühl returned to Switzerland in 1922 and headed the joint office in Bern. The two architects won the competitions for the Lory Hospital in 1924/1925, the nursing home in Elfenau and the construction of new institute buildings for the University of Bern . The hospitals in particular attracted a lot of attention and probably paved the way for him to succeed him to the chair of Karl Moser .

As in the first monograph in 1927 in the Neue Werkkunst series, Salvisberg was described as moderate, as unpredictable, his architecture as “something unsensational in terms of craftsmanship, something that is of the greatest value to the client, the future occupant of his house, with which but those who propagate architecture as a 'document', as a complex of catchwords, hardly know what to do with. "

From 1930 Salvisberg taught as a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich , where he built the district heating plant and mechanical engineering laboratory until 1934. In 1938 he stayed in Turkey for some time. Salvisberg was the company architect of the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche in the 1930s , he designed the development plan and many buildings at the headquarters in Basel as well as numerous buildings in the branches around the world.

Salvisberg died while skiing in Arosa in December 1940.

Buildings and designs

  • 1910: Competition design for a Bismarck national monument on the Elisenhöhe near Bingerbrück (together with Paul Zimmerreimer and the sculptor Paul Rudolf Henning ; not awarded)
  • 1911: Winkler house in Berlin-Frohnau , Frohnauer Strasse 144a
Winkler house in Berlin-Frohnau, built in 1911
  • 1912: Apartment building Hohenzollerndamm 87 / Egerstraße 12 in Berlin-Schmargendorf
  • 1912: Landhaus Neutze in Berlin-Dahlem , Drosselweg 3
  • 1912–1913: Lindenhaus office and commercial building in Berlin-Kreuzberg , Lindenstrasse 38 / Oranienstrasse 98–98a (in the Paul Zimmereimer office; demolished in 1965)
  • 1912: Conversion of the business and office building at Jägerstrasse 58 in Berlin-Mitte to the Ballhaus Bal Tabarin
  • before 1914: C. Prächtel office building in Berlin, Schützenstrasse
Piesteritz factory settlement , view of the stone gate
The "garden city" with 165 residential units is one of the most beautiful workers' settlements in southern Germany.
  • 1923–1924: Tang house in Berlin-Dahlem, Am Hirschsprung
  • 1923–1924: Kyser summer house in Werder (Havel)
  • 1924–1925: Free rental houses in Berlin-Lichterfelde, Geranienstraße / Begonienplatz
  • 1924–1925: Row houses at the Botanischer Garten S-Bahn station in Berlin-Lichterfelde
  • 1925: Country house for Johannes Hechler in Potsdam , Tomowstraße 9
  • 1925: Country house for Karl August Geyer in Zeuthen
  • 1925: Country house in Berlin-Wilmersdorf , Johannisberger Strasse 35
  • 1925: Competition design for a multi-family residential building on the edge of the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin-Tempelhof
  • 1925–1926: Multi-family housing development on Hortensienplatz in Berlin-Lichterfelde ; Official settlement in Berlin-Lankwitz
  • 1925–1926: Residence for the German life insurance company for members of the armed forces and civil servants in Berlin-Wilmersdorf , Johannisberger Strasse 32–34
  • 1925–1927: Conversion of a factory building for the E. Taeschner pharmaceutical factory in Potsdam, Behlertstrasse 29
  • 1926: Apartment building in Berlin-Lichterfelde, Tulpenstrasse
  • 1926–1936: Participation in the design of the Kreuzkirche (Berlin) with rectory, residential complexes and space
  • 1926–1930: Mittelheide settlement in Berlin-Köpenick (with Rudolph W. Reichel)
  • 1926–1929: Lory Hospital in Bern
  • 1926–1927: Multi-family housing development in Berlin-Schmargendorf , Doberaner Strasse 5/6
  • 1926–1928: GEHAG settlement Onkel Toms Hütte in Berlin-Zehlendorf (with Bruno Taut and Hugo Häring )
  • 1926–1928: Multi-family residential building development on Hohenzollerndamm in Berlin-Schmargendorf
  • 1926–1928: Volksbank office building in Solothurn (with Otto Brechbühl)
  • before 1927: Bolle house in Berlin-Nikolassee
  • 1927: Invalidendank settlement in Klein-Schönebeck
  • 1927: country house for Dr. Brunn in Berlin-Wilmersdorf , Binger Strasse 53
  • 1927–1928: Factory building for Geyer-Werke AG in Berlin-Neukölln , Harzer Strasse 39
  • 1927–1928: Trinity Church in Berlin-Steglitz , Südendstrasse 19–21
  • 1927–1930: Charlottenburg depot with residential complex in Berlin-Westend
  • before 1928: Facade and interior design for a shop of the perfumery factory Scherk in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Kurfürstendamm
  • 1928: Attilahöhe settlement in Berlin-Tempelhof (with Rudolph W. Reichel)
  • 1928: Atelier for Jupp Wiertz in Berlin-Dahlem, Petschkauer Weg
  • 1928: Country house for the Berlin entrepreneur Wilhelm Zoellner on Gudelacksee near Klosterheide (1936–1938 largely changed)
  • 1928–1929: Headquarters (New General Command) in Breslau, ul. Gajowicka
  • 1928–1929: Remodeling of the Penzlin-Tänzer house in Berlin-Dahlem
Arcade house in the White City, Berlin-Reinickendorf
In July 2008 the “White City” was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites as one of the six Berlin Modernist settlements .
Bleicherhof Zurich, built in 1940
  • 1930–1933: District heating plant and machine laboratory at ETH Zurich
  • 1931: SUVA house in Bern
  • 1931: Cantonal Bernese baby and mothers home in Elfenau in Bern (with Otto Brechbühl)
  • 1931: own house in Zurich
  • 1932–1936: Extension of the Kunstmuseum Bern (together with Karl Indermühle ), largely demolished in 1980 for a new building
  • 1935–1936: First Church of Christ, scientist in Basel
  • 1936: Hoffmann-La Roche AG administration building in Basel
  • 1936–1937: Hoffmann-LaRoche AG factory in Welwyn Garden City , Great Britain
  • 1938: Pharmaceutical company building of Hoffmann-La Roche AG in Basel
  • 1940: Hoffmann-La Roche AG manufacturing building in Basel
  • 1940: "Bleicherhof", Zurich

Reception & research

In the then meritorious monograph of 1985 (2nd revised and expanded edition 1995) on architects, Salvisberg was awarded the verdict of “other modernism”, which continues to have an impact today. The architect Salvisberg can now be viewed anew through today's more differentiated view of modern architecture as a multi-layered, internationally networked movement that was dominated by parallel currents. An SNSF research project on architects at the Institute for Art History, which has been ongoing at the University of Bern since 2017, therefore pursues not only a re-evaluation of the concept of modernity - as it was already established in the 1920s and continued in the following years - but also a consideration that has hitherto been ideologically strictly separated of “avant-garde” and “traditionalism” in their conditionality and interconnectedness. Salvisberg, who is close to important architects of the modern age such as Paul Bonatz , Theodor Fischer , Emil Fahrenkamp or Hans Poelzig , was never among the doctrinal champions of functionalist ideals, was in a reserved relationship with the Swiss CIAM group around Sigfried Giedion and Hans Schmid and left the theoretical discussion largely others. Through his cross-border activities with offices in Berlin, Bern and Zurich and building contracts in Basel, Berlin, Breslau, Milan or Welwyn / GB, he acted as a transnational hinge between the poles of avant-garde and tradition.

The aim of the research project is to redefine Salvisberg's importance as one of the most important Swiss architects of the 20th century, especially for urban modern architecture between Berlin, Bern and Zurich, and to present it in the context of European architectural development. As a result, Salvisberg's eminent role both in the Berlin architecture scene of the 1910s and 1920s and his lasting influence on Swiss architecture of the forties and fifties will become clear as an overall phenomenon. In his function as a university lecturer, he not only trained and shaped the architects of post-war Swiss modernism , but also built outstanding buildings (machine laboratory and district heating power plant at ETH Zurich (1929–34); Salvisberg House, Zurich (1928–31)) He not only made a significant contribution to the industrial administration building of the 1930s with the now largely unknown buildings for the F. Hoffmann-La Roche chemical company in Basel, but also established an architectural corporate identity for a pharmaceutical company. The type-defining importance of Salvisberg's last work, the Bleicherhof in Zurich (1939–40), with which he significantly influenced commercial building construction in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s, should also be emphasized.


  • Claude Lichtenstein (Ed.): Otto Rudolf Salvisberg 1882–1940. The other modernity. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. gta Verlag, Zurich 1995, ISBN 3-85676-054-7 .
  • Irma Noseda : Otto Rudolf Salvisberg. In: Isabelle Rucki, Dorothee Huber (Hrsg.): Architectural Lexicon of Switzerland, 19./20. Century. Birkhäuser, Basel 1998, ISBN 3-7643-5261-2 .
  • Theresia Gürtler Berger: Otto Rudolf Salvisberg - His Swiss Buildings . Dissertation . Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, No. 19031, 2010. (online)
  • Fritz Hellwag: Otto Rudolf Salvisberg . In: Decorative art, illustrated magazine for applied art, vol. 36 = jg. 31. 1927/28, pp. 177–187 ( online ).
  • Paul Westheim: Recent work by OR Salvisberg . (= New Art of Work ). FEHübsch Verlag, Berlin 1927.
  • Roland Jaeger (Ed.): Otto Rudolf Salvisberg. Reprint from 1927 with an introduction by Paul Westheim and an afterword to the new edition by Matthias Noell, Neue Werkkunst. [Faks.-Nachdr.] Gebr. Mann, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-7861-1780-2 .
  • Roland Rohn : Otto Rudolf Salvisberg In: Architektur und Kunst , Vol. 28, Issue 11, 1941, pp. 289–306.

Web links

Commons : Otto Rudolf Salvisberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Westheim in: Modern designs. 1914. Quoted from: Werk-Archithese. Volume 64, Issue 10, p. 30, doi: 10.5169 / seals-49463 .
  2. ^ Salvisberg, Otto Rudolf. Retrieved October 5, 2019 .
  3. ^ German biography: Salvisberg, Otto - German biography. Retrieved October 5, 2019 .
  4. a b c d e f Wolfgang Holtz: Otto Rudolf Salvisberg - The Swiss architect lived and also built in Steglitz . In: Treffpunkt Matthäus - community newspaper of the Evangelical Matthäusgemeinde Berlin-Steglitz . 2019, No. 5, May 2019, p. 8.
  5. ^ Karl Kiem: The garden city of Staaken. Types, groups, variants. Gebr. Mann, Berlin 1997, p. 144 ff.
  6. The quarrels about this vocation are processed in:
    Claude Lichtenstein: Salvisberg and the "new building". In: Werk - Archithese. Volume 64, Issue 10, pp. 7-17. doi: 10.5169 / seals-49460 .
  7. ^ Paul Westheim: Salvisberg . Berlin: Friedrich Ernst Hübsch Verlag (Neue Werkkunst) 1927, p. 7. Quoted from: Stanislaus von Moos: Architecture at a second glance or: Salvisberg today. In: Werk - Archithese. Volume 64, Issue 10, p. 3. doi: 10.5169 / seals-49459 .
  8. Max Schmid (ed.): One hundred designs from the competition for the Bismarck National Monument on the Elisenhöhe near Bingerbrück-Bingen. Düsseldorfer Verlagsanstalt, Düsseldorf 1911. (n. Pag.)
  9. a b c d A. W. Müller: Otto Salvisberg, a Swiss architect in Berlin. In: Schweizerische Baukunst , 6th year 1914, p. 237 ff. ( Doi: 10.5169 / seals-8033 )
  10. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Das Werk, Archithese , Heft 10/1977
  11. a b c d ... (= Berlin and its buildings , Volume 4, Part C.) ...
  12. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  13. ^ Architects and Engineers Association in Berlin (ed.): Industrial buildings, office buildings. (= Berlin and its buildings , part IX.) Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1971, ISBN 3-433-00553-2 .
  14. a b Heinrich de Fries (Ed.): Modern villas and country houses. Wasmuth, Berlin 1925.
  15. a b c Bauunternehmung Bernhard Borst (Ed.): Baukunst. Issue 5/1927
  16. ^ Joachim Petsch: Heimatkunst - Heimatschutz. In: The work. Issue 27-28, 1979, doi: 10.5169 / seals-50775
  17. ^ Walter Curt Behrendt : House Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, Berlin-Südende. In: Moderne Baufformen , Volume 26, 1927, pages 453-460.
  18. Ralf Dose: The place south end. January 17, 2013, accessed October 18, 2019 .
  19. Ralf Dose: The place south end. January 17, 2013, accessed October 18, 2019 .
  20. a b Jörg Limberg: Potsdam, a place of modernity? Architects and their buildings in the first third of the 20th century. In: Brandenburgische Denkmalpflege , 6th year 1997, issue 2, pp. 62–85. (online as a PDF document with approx. 2.5 MB) ( Memento from June 26, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  22. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  23. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  24. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  26. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  27. ^ B .: The new building of the Volksbank in Solothurn. Architects Salvisberg and Brechbühl . In: The work. Architecture and art . tape 16 , no. 7 , 1929, pp. 193-197 , doi : 10.5169 / seals-15955 .
  28. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  29. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  30. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  31. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  32. Wasmuth's monthly magazine for architecture and urban development , year 1928, issue 12
  33. Holdings on the Attilahöhe housing estate at the Architekturmuseum der Technische Universität Berlin , last accessed on June 28, 2011.
  34. Entry in the monument database of the State of Brandenburg
  35. 130 homes. Verlag F. Bruckmann AG, Munich 1935.
  36. ^ Salvis mining. November 3, 2015, accessed May 14, 2020 .
  37. Dr. Jörg Rüter: Wertheim in the Schloßstraße. Monument of the month June 2011. In: District Office Steglitz-Zehlendorf. June 2011, accessed October 18, 2019 .
  38. ^ Ostdeutsche Bau-Zeitung , year 1929.
  39. Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung , 49th year 1929, No. 25, p. 412.
  40. Entry in the Berlin State Monument List
  41. F. Hiller: Kant. Bernisches infant and maternity home in Elfenau in Bern. In: Schweizerische Bauzeitung , Volume 97 (= 1st half of 1931 ). No. 1 (from January 3, 1931) (online as a PDF file with approx. 87 MB) , pp. 3–6.
  42. Der Baumeister , born 1932, issue 3
  43. ^ First Church of Christ, Scientist, Basel. In: arch INFORM ; accessed on September 1, 2016.
  44. ^ Otto Rudolf Salvisberg - Architect of Modernism Berlin • Bern • Wroclaw • Basel • Zurich , accessed on October 10, 2018