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Böttcherstrasse Part 3: Mostly Expressionist, sort of North German Gothic

Doesn’t every city have one street they want to revitalize? Here in Bradenton, city council leaders are always up to something, trying to find ways to draw more visitors and business to Main Street and to the river front. Ludwig Roselius was no different, and he had his eye on the once prosperous medieval street of Böttcherstrasse in Bremen.

It started out simple enough. The owners of the most beautiful and oldest house on the street, today’s Roselius Museum, convinced Roselius to purchase their home in 1902. Years later, he reshaped the house to his ideal image of a medieval merchant house, added the stepped gable to the roof, and opened his house to share his medieval art and antique collection with the general public in 1928.

Revitalizing Böttcherstrasse was a win-win for Roselius. He could house offices for his company Kaffee HAG in Böttcherstrasse and use the storefront windows as fantastic advertising, as well as feed into his urge to start a new cultural trend and way of thinking.

The idea besides the advertising aspect for Kaffee HAG, in combination with the Böttcherstrasse was to start a new cultural impulse in Germany after the indignity of the 1st World War: A combination of traditional art and crafts with creative modernity. Consciously designed as a tourist attraction and as a new ideal of the 'city within a city' the Böttcherstraße should also indicate a new beginning of cultural thinking abroad. That is how the saying from Roselius "the Böttcherstrasse is an attempt to think German" should be interpreted.” Museen Böttcherstraße


When Ludwig Roselius was ready to revive Böttcherstrasse, Germany was reeling from losing World War I. Architecture styles were departing with distaste for the industrial revolution in their mouths. As a style, expressionism sought to be original and new, which makes the feat of gathering a list of identifying characteristic traits very challenging. It's not like gothic architecture when if you can check the proverbial boxes for several key features, you know it's a gothic building. All of expressionism characteristics are going to be general and opinion-based. Expressionism sought to distort forms for emotional effect. The building themes were still of nature: caves, mountains, rock formations.

If you Stir Together Expressionism and North German Gothic...

It quickly became a game to see which online and travel book source listed which architecture style when they referred to Böttcherstrasse. The overwhelming consensus I’ve gathered for you is ‘Mostly Expressionist’, which is honestly pretty funny. My best guess is that although Roselius wanted to create a revolutionary building ensemble, when he asked the city of Bremen’s permission he supposedly claimed he was going to do a Northern German Gothic style. Which, most of the houses on the street do fall into that silhouette with the stepped-gables, dormer windows, and pointed arcades. However, where it gets ‘Mostly Expressionist’ is the brick patterns. The buildings could be unified as a whole monolithic natural structure through using mostly brick, but through the patterns created with the bricks the designs evoke natural formations of rocks.

Cheat Sheet to the 7 Houses of Böttcherstrasse, Bremen

Cheat Sheet to the 7 Houses of Böttcherstrasse, Bremen | Germany

Glockenspiel House | Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, photo by Felix Clebowski | Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

St. Peter House | Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

Roselius House Photo by freiraumfotografie Bremen | Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

House Atlantis | Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

Robinson Crusoe House & House Atlantis| Böttcherstrasse | Bremen | Germany

Sadly I'm missing a photo of the House of 7 Lazy Brothers. There's probably a pun in that comment. Do you have a photo of the house you'd like to share? Which one is your favorite?

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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler