Peter Behrens

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Peter Behrens

Behrens, Peter

(pā`tər bā`rəns), 1868–1940, German architect, influential in Europe in the evolution of the modern architectural style. He established before World War I a predominantly utilitarian type of architecture that at the same time achieved qualities of clarity and impressiveness. His factory buildings were among the earliest European works to base a simple and effective style upon the frank terms of modern construction. Behrens is known also for residences, for workers' apartment houses in Vienna, and for his pioneering work in industrial design. Among his pupils were Le CorbusierLe Corbusier
, pseud. of Charles Édouard Jeanneret
, 1887–1965, French architect, b. La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. Often known simply as "Corbu," he was one of the most influential architects of the 20th cent.
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, Walter GropiusGropius, Walter
, 1883–1969, German-American architect, one of the leaders of modern functional architecture. In Germany his Fagus factory buildings (1910–11) at Alfeld, with their glass walls, metal spandrels, and discerning use of purely industrial features, were
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, and Ludwig Mies van der RoheMies van der Rohe, Ludwig
, 1886–1969, German-American architect. A pioneer of modern architecture and one of its most influential figures, he is famous for his minimalist architectural dictum "less is more." In Germany, he was an assistant to Peter Behrens.
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Behrens, Peter

Designed the AEG Turbine Factory (Illus.), Berlin, in 1908. It was a strictly functional factory, constructed of concrete, steel, and glass, without ornamentation. He also designed the German Embassy, in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the Classical idiom, devoid of all ornamentation.

Behrens, Peter


Born Apr. 14, 1868, in Hamburg; died Feb. 27, 1940, in Berlin. German architect and artist-designer.

Behrens studied in Karlsruhe and Düsseldorf from 1886 to 1889 and worked as an artist, graphic artist, and master of decorative arts in Munich (1891–99) and Darmstadt (1900–03). He presided over the Commercial Art School in Düsseldorf from 1903 to 1907. In 1900, Behrens began to work as an architect in the spirit of the Jugendstil, striving for geometrical clarity in composition and decor (the crematorium near Hagen, 1907). He was an active participant in the Munich Secession, the Darmstadt artists’ colony, and the German Werkbund. In 1909 he began to construct a series of industrial buildings, which combine innovative construction (reinforced-concrete and metal frame, wide-span glass enclosures), functional design, and simplicity of spatial solution along with the traditional features of German architecture, including a heavy, impressive appearance and severe, massive power (factories built in Berlin between 1909 and 1912, in Oberhausen between 1921 and 1925, and Höchst in 1925–26). Behrens’ last works were executed in the spirit of functionalism (tobacco factory built in Linz between 1932 and 1936). Behrens is one of the founders of modern European architecture. Le Corbusier, Gropius, and Mies van der Rohe all worked in his studio.


Cremers, P. J. Peter Behrens, sein Werk von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart. Essen, [1928].