Too bold:
homes and
offices in “Olivia”

Hans Scharoun (1893 – 1972)

Drawing by Hans Scharoun, acrylic, ink over diazotype on paper, 84,7 x 109,5 cm
© Sergius Ruegenberg: Berlinische Galerie, 2011
Hans Scharoun: VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2011

This sketch of a modern building has been drawn with precise lines on wrinkled paper. Where the tracts of the multi-storey structure meet, a big woman’s head towers above the roof. The sky is pastel blue; silhouetted in the foreground, a couple are looking at the building.

The American private investor had expected something more modest when he commissioned Hans Scharoun (1893–1972) to design a tower of homes and offices on Berlin’s boulevard Kurfürstendamm. Working with Sergius Ruegenberg  (1903 – 1996), Scharoun designed an unusual, playful building. The two wings were to have six storeys. In the plans, levels 3 to 5 jut forward over the two office levels below. The façade was to be in eggshell white and olive green, a reference to the proposed name “Olivia”, which also explains the larger-than-life head of a woman that was to crown the outer corner of the building.

Scharoun does not follow the clear, strictly geometric patterns of Bauhaus modernism here but adopts an original, lightweight architectural idiom. The architect failed to convince his client, so the “Olivia” project was never implemented.

Residential and office building „Olivia“
Kurfürstendamm 182, Berlin-Charlottenburg
Drawing: Sergius Ruegenberg
Handcoloured reprography on photo paper
84,5 x 109,5 cm
Acquired from funds of the Senate Department for Culture Berlin, 1994


Discover more