Karl Friedrich Schinkel – Architect of Prussian classicism


Karl Friedrich Schinkel was one of the most important architects and master builders of the 19th century. He shaped the cityscape of Berlin and other Prussian cities with his classicist buildings, which are still considered masterpieces of architectural history. However, Schinkel was not only a gifted architect, but also a versatile artist who was involved in painting, graphic design, stage design and landscape design. He was also an influential theorist and teacher who inspired a whole generation of architects.

Schinkel was born in Neuruppin on March 13, 1781. His father was a Lutheran pastor who gave him a solid education. Early on, Schinkel showed a great interest in art and architecture. He attended the Gymnasium in Berlin and then studied at the Bauakademie there. He became a student of David Gilly, a representative of early classicism, who introduced him to the ideas of the Enlightenment and antiquity. Schinkel also made several trips to Italy, France and England, where he studied the works of famous architects such as Palladio, Ledoux and Nash.

Schinkel’s first significant commissions came from King Frederick William III. Schinkel designed several palaces and gardens for the king, such as Charlottenhof Palace in Potsdam and the New Pavilion in Berlin. He also designed public buildings such as the Neue Wache on Pariser Platz. His buildings were characterized by clear forms, harmonious proportions and a reference to ancient architecture. Schinkel thus created a new style, Prussian Classicism, which differed from strict French Classicism or playful English Neoclassicism.

However, Schinkel was not only an architect of the king, but also an architect of the people. He designed numerous residential buildings, schools, churches and industrial buildings for the growing population of Prussia. He placed great emphasis on functionality, hygiene and aesthetics. He experimented with new materials such as iron and glass and created innovative constructions.

Schinkel was not only a practical architect, but also a theoretical architect. He authored several writings on architectural principles, architectural history, and urban planning. He also designed utopian projects such as the Acropolis of Athens he recorded in impressive drawings.

Schinkel died of a stroke in Berlin on October 9, 1841. He left behind an extensive body of work that is still considered one of the most important in German architectural history. He was buried in the Dorotheenstädtische Friedhof. Schinkel’s buildings can still be admired today in Berlin and other cities and bear witness to his genius and vision.

Consent Management Platform by Real Cookie Banner