Philipp Schaefer (architect)

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Memorial plaque on the Karstadt building in Düsseldorf, Willi Hoselmann , around 1952

Philipp Schaefer (also: Philipp Schäfer) (born June 24, 1885 in Offenbach am Main ; † August 16, 1952 in Essen ) was a German architect .

Schaefer was chief planner for Karstadt's department store buildings for over thirty years . His work is in the tradition of new building .

life and work

From 1899 to 1902 Schaefer completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter and carpenter and attended the technical training institutes in Offenbach. Between 1903 and 1908 he worked in Joseph Maria Olbrich's studio in the Darmstadt artists' colony , and in connection with the construction of the Tietz department store designed by Olbrich in Düsseldorf , he became an employee of the Schöndorff company , which carried out the interior fittings of this house. In 1920 he moved to Rudolph Karstadt AG in Hamburg , but also built for other clients during this time.

Philipp Schaefer influenced the architectural language of department stores in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s . Most of his buildings had a strict vertical structure and were reminiscent of the American high-rise architecture in Chicago or New York . Schaefer's buildings can still be found today in numerous German cities, including Berlin , Düsseldorf and Hamburg.

His best-known and most important building was the Karstadt department store on Hermannplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg , built between 1927 and 1929 , which was then the most modern department store in Europe. The gigantic structure rose 32 m above ground level on the west side of the square. Two towers facing the front of the square towered over the shell- clad building by a further 24 m. They were each crowned by 15 m high columns of light. Around 72,000 m² of usable space was available on nine floors (two of which were underground). A novelty was the direct access to the subway . The roof garden and viewing terrace quickly developed into a popular meeting place. On April 25, 1945, the building was presumably destroyed by the Waffen-SS by arson or demolition, as the food supplies should not fall into the hands of the approaching Soviet troops and the building was of strategic importance. Only a small part of the building facing the Hasenheide remained.

Buildings (selection)

Karstadt at Hermannplatz from 1929, for the 1936 Olympics
Former Karstadt administration building on Fehrbelliner Platz
Former Karstadt headquarters in Hamburg's Steinstrasse
  • 1907–1909: Leonhard Tietz AG department store (today: Kaufhof) in Düsseldorf, Königsallee (as an employee of the designing architect Joseph Maria Olbrich)
  • 1920: Administration building of the Schöndorff company in Düsseldorf-Lierenfeld
  • 1921–1924: Headquarters of Rudolph Karstadt AG in Hamburg, Steinstrasse / Bugenhagenstrasse (preserved, today Hamburg's tax offices)
  • before 1924: Villa for the department store owner Wronker in Frankfurt am Main
  • before 1924: Ludwig Ganz AG administration building in Mainz
  • 1926: Rudolph Karstadt AG's shopping center in Chemnitz , Annaberger Strasse
  • 1927–1929: Karstadt am Hermannplatz , department store of Rudolph Karstadt AG in Berlin-Kreuzberg, Hasenheide / Hermannplatz / Urbanstrasse
  • 1928: Villa for Hermann Schöndorff (1868–1936) in Hamburg, Harvestehuder Weg 27 (demolished in 1966)
  • 1928–1929: Residential and commercial building in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
  • before 1929: own house in Hamburg
  • 1929–1930: Villa for Hermann Schöndorff in Berlin-Schmargendorf, today the residence of the Israeli ambassador (under monument protection)
  • 1930–1931: Headquarters of Rudolph Karstadt AG in Berlin-Mitte , Neue Königstraße (today: Otto-Braun-Straße; 1935 sold to the Reich Ministry of Finance, after 1945: Berlin Police Headquarters; listed)
  • 1935–1936: Headquarters of Rudolph Karstadt AG in Berlin-Wilmersdorf , Hohenzollerndamm / Fehrbelliner Platz / Württembergische Straße (later used by various federal and state offices; under monument protection)
  • 1936–1937: Administration building of the construction company Wiemer & Trachte GmbH in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Hohenzollerndamm / Sächsische Strasse / Pommersche Strasse (preserved, listed)

Further department stores and commercial buildings for the Karstadt / Althoff / Einheitspreis-AG group:

  • 1921–1924: Wilhelmshaven (R. Karstadt, preserved, facade under monument protection)
  • 1925: Aplerbeck (Rosenberg department store, 1928 = Rudolph Karstadt AG, preserved, after 2009 Kaufland)
  • 1926: Dömitz / Meckl. (preserved, including atrium in its original condition)
  • 1926: Duisburg (renovation of the Loewe department store, Münzstraße 1. 1932 = Kepa, destroyed in 1944, reconstruction Kepa)
  • 1929: Göttingen (facade changed significantly in 1959 when the house was expanded)
  • 1930: Recklinghausen (Th. Althoff, preserved)
  • 1928: Hamburg-Barmbek (R. Karstadt, destroyed in 1943)
  • 1929: Bottrop (Th. Althoff, destroyed in 1943, reconstruction from 1951, preserved, classified as worth preserving. Closed in 2016, converted into a shopping center)
  • 1929: Buer (Th. Althoff, extension and conversion of the house from 1912, closed in 2004, conversion to a linden square, preserved)
  • 1931: Munich (conversion and expansion of the " Oberpollinger ", partially preserved)
  • 1929: Celle (demolished in 1965 for new building)
  • 1928: Neubrandenburg (caught fire in 1945 during the invasion of the Red Army after the city was sacked, ruins demolished after 1955)
  • 1925: Castle near Magdeburg (preserved, including atrium in its original form, under monument protection)
  • 1930–1932: Bremen , Obernstraße / Sögestraße (Karstadt department store, in collaboration with the Bremen architects Behrens and Neumark , largest preserved Karstadt department store from this period, facade in 1988/1989 largely restored to its old condition, a listed building since 2010)
  • 1931–1932: Essen, Limbecker Platz (renovation and expansion by Th. Althoff, 1943 partially destroyed in the war, reconstruction, demolished until 2009 for the Limbecker Platz shopping center )
  • 1950: Reconstruction of the destroyed houses in Bottrop and Gladbeck (elsewhere, Hochstraße 10, demolished in 2017)
  • 1952: Düsseldorf, Schadowstraße (Schaefer's last new department store, preserved)


  • Work by the architect Philipp Schäfer, Hamburg, in: Moderne Bauformen, vol. 22, 1923, pp. 55–62.

Web links

Commons : Philipp Schaefer  - Collection of images, videos and audio files