Johann Frederick Hoeger, called Fritz Hoeger (born 12 June 1877 in Bekenreihe at Elmshorn, deceased 21 June 1949 in Bad Segeberg) was a German architect and builder. He is considered one of the leading representatives of German brick expressionism.
Hoeger was the eldest of six children to a small farmer who ran a small carpentry business. As a 14 year old Fritz Hoger went to Elmshorn to train as a carpenter and in addition he learnt the blacksmith trade. Following this he spent two-years at the construction school in Hamburg, completing his master's certification in 1899. Following this Hoeger spent two years doing military service and in 1901 joined the architectural firm, Lundt & Kallmorgen, in Hamburg as a draftsman, he later described the work as very barren, mainly working on sample books. After a four year stint he joined the company of his future father-in-law, Fritz Oldenburg, marrying his daughter Annie in 1905.
Two of Hoeger’s brothers worked as building trade professionals. His younger brother Hermann (1882-1950) also became a noted architect in Hamburg, notably working on the Hoeger office (1907-1910) under the guidance of Ferdinand Sckopp.
Hoger was a student of the Backstein (brick) architecture of North Germany, particularly interested in the decorative traditions of brickwork and the effects of light and shade on brick buildings.
Hoeger learnt his architecture skills during his time working at Lundt & Kalllmorgen and for Fritz Oldenburg.
He then founded his own architectural practice in 1907 however because of his lack of higher education he was denied membership in the Federation of German Architects. During this time he described himself as a builder and worked on the design and building of private homes around Hamburg. Before the outbreak of World War One, Hoeger’s office produced the dished house (now home to the department store "Kaufhof"). The dished house was the first to use clinker bricks; clinker bricks are more robust and frost-resistant due to the higher firing temperatures, unlike normal bricks and require no further treatment.
These first large buildings became the key style of his later buildings, with a strong vertical or horizontal layout by the placement of the eaves and the stepped floors. This design element brought him his first success. However his designs were strongly influenced by the Baupflegekommission (building code commission) and subsequently corrected. The clinker he called his Bauedelstein (style) which was constructed with playful ornaments. This style, however, was partially rejected.
In 1912 Hoeger began with the extension of the Hapag-management, known now as Ballindamm, because the construction of 1903 by Martin Haller did not offer sufficient space. But the client wanted the surface material to be sandstone and Hoeger had to relinquish his favorite building material.
1920, he published "The essence of the modern brick building" by Fritz Schumacher, the Hamburg chief architect, Hoeger felt very connected to the cause. With brick and clinker brick he thought showed an "earthiness" that was familiar to the German people, because these materials were typical for Northern Germany.
Hoeger most known building is the Chile House in Hamburg, which he built between 1922-1924 for the ship owner and nitric importer Henry (Chile) Sloman. The 12-storey block featured a curved, ship like façade. In 1926-1928 Hoeger built the first skyscraper in Hanover, the Gazette-skyscraper (Anzeiger-Hochhaus), for the publisher August Madsack. The style elements are similar in many ways to that of Chile House.
Several of Hoeger’s department store buildings around Hamburg were destroyed during the war.
From 1914 to 1918 Hoeger completed his military service in the First World War in Flanders, during this time he had to postpone his career and his office stopped operating. Returning from the war was a difficult period as the orders from the pre-war period competed with new projects but created a thriving architectural practice. But by the construction of the Chile House in 1924, Hoeger had reached a professional breakthrough.
Hoeger sympathized early with the Nazis and in 1932 entered into the party. As part of the Nordic Society, Hoeger made many speaking appearances. But with changes in the political situation, Hoeger’s situation also changed. Although Hoeger coincided politically with the official party, it is said that Hitler did not like the North German style that Hoeger was renowned for. The favored marble neoclassical style would not and could not be connected with Hoeger’s work and he resigned from the position he hoped to get as the Staatsarchiteken.
In 1937, he produced designs for the Gauhochhaus / Gauforum the east-west road and the suspension bridge over the Elbe in Hamburg, although it was a closed competition.
After 1945, Hoeger, now 68 years old, failed to return to his previous achievements. He retired to his birthplace, in 1946 married Gertrude Ilse Tilsen and died on 21 June 1949 in Bad Segeberg.
Fritz Hoeger Award
For the first time in 2008, the Fritz Hoeger Prize was awarded for excellence in brick architecture. The initiative goes for buildings with brick with winners in the categories of detached / semi-detached houses, apartment buildings, office, commercial, leisure and sport, as well as public buildings. In addition, two awards for Passive House and restoration and sustainability have been awarded. The competition is endowed with 10,000 euros. The next competition brief is planned for 2010/2011.
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