- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 28 Nov 2018
Expressionism emerged in Northern Europe in the early 20th century in poetry and painting, where it attempted to distort reality to express subjective, emotional experience. It quickly spread through all of the arts and architecture, pioneered by a group of architects from Germany, Austria and Denmark.
Expressionist architects used materials such as brick, concrete and glass to create novel sculptural forms and massing, sometimes distorted and fragmented to express an emotional perspective. Very often, expressionism involved a rejection of historical styles, symmetrical forms, and traditional designs, and instead embraced abstraction (based on structures not found or seen in the real world). This tended to result in unusual building forms using innovative construction techniques that stood out from their surroundings.
While the individualistic and informal approach to expressionist architecture makes it more difficult to define as a precise style, there are some recurring characteristics, including:
- Expressing emotion through distorted forms.
- Emphasis of symbolic or stylistic expression over realism.
- An attempt to achieve new and original designs.
- Natural themes such as mountains, lightning, rock formations, caves, and so on.
- Influence of Moorish, Egyptian, Indian and other eastern architectural styles.
- The romantic appreciation of architecture as an art form.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
28 leading bodies set out their vision for the future.
Chancellor announces latest Winter Support packages.
Tapping technology to boost infrastructure and create jobs.
4 ways to ensure certificates are valid.
White elephant construction projects.
How Paul Williams bent over backwards to overcome racial barriers.
Organisation revises actions around dealing with COVID-19.
CIOB, NFCC, RIBA, RICS call for changes ahead of Building Safety Bill.
Developments in the Future Homes Standard.
An American chimney feature with a colourful past.
Homes based on need, not ability to pay.
Historic England adds 216 entries to the 'at risk' register.
Will cycling and walking provisions be preserved?
Assembly point levels range from relative to ultimate.