Since 2016 an interdisciplinary and cross-university cooperation between Technical University Berlin (study programme Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum and Museum of Architecture) and Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin (study programme Theatre Engineering) started, that is financed for two years by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG).

The TU Berlin`s Collection of Theatre Architecture with more than 10.000 archival documents provides an extensive reference to the recent history of 20th century theatre architecture. It shows the status quo of the theatre building landscape after the visionary developments of the 1920s / 1930s, the dismantling during the dictatorship of the National Socialists as well as the achievements of the post-war period. Large parts of the convolute are dated back to the period from 1939 to 1944 and come from the inheritance of the theatre engineer and stage architect Prof. Friedrich Kranich. Furthermore, there are over 600 glass plate negatives with illustrations of historical stage technology, scene pictures and theatrical architecture. This collection was consigned to the Institut für Theaterbau der Technischen Universität Berlin in 1969. Its material for German theatre buildings from the fifties and sixties is a further key focus of the collection. As a documentary of German theatre construction, the collection is unique in its entity, and as an original source material, it is nowhere else preserved in this form.

Main attraction of the collection is undoubtedly the very well-preserved compilation of the manual “Das Deutsche Theater”. First researches disclose the collection’s eventful past: on behalf of the General Construction Inspector for the Capital of the Reich (GCI), Albert Speer, the publication of this reference book „Das Deutsche Theater“ has been prepared since 1939.
It was supposed to become a benchmark of all existing theatre architecture with a detailed architectural and stage-technical description – around 500 at that time. Portfolios with more than 6000 very heterogeneous archival materials (large-format diazocopies with floor plans, sections and stage construction plans, photographs and multi-page questionnaires) show an unique summary of the state of central European cultural buildings at the beginning of the Second World War.
Altogether 319 theatres in Germany, France, Russia, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic are documented, including 32 Berlin and 20 Viennese theatres.

The aim of this interdisciplinary research is to secure and digitally compile the collection. In the course of a succesful financing application at DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) the archive will be made freely accessible and will be linked to international databases within the next two years:

The digitization of the collection leads to further comparative and interdisciplinary research. Beside first inspections, lists and overview maps, students from different universities do research, analyses and cartographies about individual theatres focused on ether architecture (TU Berlin and others), theatre engineering (Beuth HS) or theatre theory (FU Berlin). At an international level discussions are going on with other scientific institutions about future interdisciplinary cooperations and establishment of research platforms, for example with the International Observatory of Theatres at Risk (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya).

The compilation of an online archive and incorporation into the collection of the TU Berlin’s Museum of Architecture will enable us to reflect upon the innovative theatre spaces that emerged from the theatre reforms in an architectural, scenographic and technical context. Hence cultural achievements up until 1933 can be reevaluated and by bridging the gap forced by the National Socialists can be connected to the current approach of contemporary theatre spaces.


The preparatory work was commissioned to the architect and architectural historian Theodor von Lüpke with a team of five employees in Berlin. To the extended group of experts also belonged the Reich Stage Designer Benno von Arent, the Viennnese theatre scholar Prof. Joseph Gregor and stage technician Prof. Friedrich Kranich.

Despite adverse circumstances of war in the years 1939 until 1943 about 500 theatres were contacted by means of questionnaires. Commissioned photographers and architects captured and prepared the compilation for printing with handwritten comments. 1943 Albert Speer decided, at that time already armaments minister, that his manual „Das Deutsche Theater“ will be released until after the war. But the work was stopped shortly afterwards and the book was never published.
Theodor von Lüpke could save a considerable part of the material through the end of the war time by moving it to West Germany. Another part, including all original drawings, remained in Berlin and obtained lost since 1945. Some of the material appiered in the Federal Archiv.

Bühnenbild_Szenischer Raum TU Berlin – Franziska Ritter
Architekturmuseum TU Berlin – Dr. Hans-Dieter Nägelke
FG Theatertechnik Beuth HS Berlin – Prof. Dr. Bri Newesely

Student Assistents: Robert Huth, Birte Dördelmann

Franziska Ritter,
Tel: +49 (0)30 – 314 72 535

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