BEHRENS, Peter
(b. 1868, Hamburg, d. 1940, Berlin)

Haus Behrens: exterior view

1900-01
Photo
Mathildenhöhe, Alexandraweg 17, Darmstadt

The success of his exhibitions in 1899 led to his appointment to the Künstler-Kolonie in Darmstadt by Ernst-Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt. In July 1900, work began on his own house there. This artist's house, built for the 1901 exhibition, was the first designed by the painter and graphic artist Peter Behrens. The interior was also designed and furnished entirely according to his plans.

The three-storey villa architecture with an almost square floor plan has a striking, and at the same time innovative effect due to the red-brown iron clinker bricks and green-glazed facing bricks, unusual materials in this region. The light, unornamented plaster surfaces in between are a charming contrast to the unconventional use of these architectural ceramics. The tall curved gables in the north and west give the building an almost ecclesiastical character.

The main entrance faces the street prominently. The dark portal is set deep into the stepped clinker brick frame. Its ornamentation of stylised eagle wings refers to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. An inscription above the window lintel in the west emphasises the pathos of this artist's villa: "Be steady, my house, amid the roaring of the world". From the dining room, one could step out onto a terrace, from which stairs led to the south-facing sloping terrain. Behrens also planned his garden as an extension of the house in unity with the architecture.

Down to the last detail, Peter Behrens was also responsible for the interior. The music room, with its heavy, dark furniture and elaborate interior design, was particularly striking. In the adjoining dining room, on the other hand, the white furniture and some deep red details brought a cheerful note to the Behrens House, where all rooms were decorated. Part of these furnishings is now shown at the Artists' Colony Museum.

The Behrens House was damaged and burnt down in 1944. However, the outer walls, including the clinker pilaster strips and the green architectural ceramics, have been preserved.

View the plan of the ground floor.