The architectural work of Karl Lehrmann
Hayes, Kathleen (Translator of Summary)
Source document: Opuscula historiae artium. 2009, vol. 53, iss. F53, pp. -141
ISSN1211-7390 (print)2336-4467 (online)
License: Not specified license
The beginning of the 20th century was a period rife with political, social and economic upheavals. Architecture was an important medium employed in the difficult task of forming new public symbols and expressing the national consciousness. It was able to represent the diverse intellectual and political currents of this uneasy time. The life and work of the Austrian architect Karl Lehrmann testify to the colourful range of trends and influences that shaped architecture in the first decades of the 20th century. -- Karl Lehrmann was born in 1887 to a German family in Žatec in Bohemia. He studied architecture at the Akademie der bildende Kunste in Vienna under Friedrich Ohmann. Subsequently, he and his fellow-student Rudiger Walter ran their own firm in Vienna. Their designs from this period, based on the traditions of late Austrian historicism and monumentalism, were often published in the journals der Architekt and Wiener Bauindustrie Zeitung. In the First World War, Lehrmann served as a lieutenant in Korneuburg. A historicising military cemetery and church were built there according to his design. After the war, he taught at Die Technisch-gewerbliche Bundeslehranstalt in Modling near Vienna. He also moved his studio there. -- At the beginning of the 1920s, he received a commission from the firm Berg- u. Hutten to build an administrative building, a residential home and two villas for the managing director in Brno. The firm had transferred its Vienna headquarters there after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. These buildings show a stylistic shift from historicism to geometrical simplicity with an emphasis on monumentality. -- An important set of buildings was also made in the 1920s in Linz. Lehrmann built several assembly halls and the administrative building for the management of the firm Kraus & Co., which made locomotives. His design of the administrative building, like that of the office building for the scythe and sickle factory Radtenbacher & Sohne in Scharnstein, is "technical" and purist. This trend in his work culminated in the power plant in the Technisch-gewerbliche Bundeslehranstalt complex in Modling, which shares something in common with the aesthetic and engineering principles of the international style. In 1930, this building and his work as a teacher won Lehrmann the silver cross for serving the Austrian state. -- This award, however, proved fateful in the subsequent era of the Catholic dictatorship of Engelbert Dollfuss, which was brought down by Adolf Hitler's Anschluss of Austria and the start of the Second World War. Lehrmann's career thus essentially came to an end in the 1930s. Very few of his many winning designs from this period were executed. -- After the war, the architect retired, devoting his time to writing architectural textbooks. Karl Lehrmann died in 1957 in Modling. After his death, he was awarded a Goldene Lorbeer (golden laurel wreathe) by the Viennese Kunstlerhaus, which he had joined at the end of the First World War.