Exhibition tip: 110 years of Behrensbau. Architecture and history

4 min read

The House of History in North Rhine-Westphalia opens its doors for a fascinating journey through time, focusing on the Behrensbau on the banks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf. This historic building by Peter Behrens was erected 110 years ago and has witnessed turbulent decades.

The exhibition "110 Years of Behrensbau. Architecture and History" sheds light on the past of the building and its famous architect with the help of over 100 photos and 144 objects. Impressive interior and exterior shots of the building bring past times back to life. In addition, the exhibition presents the unique history of the Mannesmann Group - from the founding of the company to the takeover battle with Vodafone in 2000. Photos, sketches and design objects also illustrate the career of architect Peter Behrens in an exciting way.

The exhibition on Mannesmannsufer can be visited until November 5, 2023. This is all about sustainability, relying on recycling and the reuse of materials. This creates a link between the past and the future - in keeping with the spirit of the Behrensbau.

What: 110 years of Behrensbau. Architecture and history
When: Until November 5, 2023
Where: House of History North Rhine-Westphalia, Behrensbau, Mannesmannufer 2, 40213 Düsseldorf.

Admission is free.

Open plan office Behrensbau
© Salzgitter AG-Konzernarchiv / Mannesmann-Archiv

Offices with continuous window frontage are unusual in 1912.The alternation of narrow windows and pillars provides soft light, without harsh shadows and dark corners. For the first time, all employees work in daylight.

The Mannesmann Group continues to pursue its long-planned corporate strategy into the 1930s: expansion into a comprehensive mining group. The aim is to mine ore and hard coal itself and to manufacture its own products in steel mills and factories - a typical corporate strategy in the Ruhr region at the time.

During World War II, the Group produces armaments such as bomb casings for the National Socialist dictatorship. The company employs forced laborers for this purpose and profits from the takeover of Jewish companies into the Group.

© Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen

Peter Behrens was active in all areas of art. The Mannesmann logo he designed remains relevant today.Behrens draws the cross-section of a steel tube, places the line in the middle for the rolled sheets. "M" and "W" stand for Mannesmannröhren-Werke.

© Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen
Behrensbau facade
© Haus der Geschichte Nordrhein-Westfalen/Axel Thünker

The modernity of its architecture is evident in the interior, in the construction and technical finishes. The facade is almost without decoration, striking is the rhythm of the many rectangular windows.

In 1907 Behrens followed a profitable call to Berlin: he became artistic advisor and chief designer at AEG. By 1916, he had built ten factories for the electrical manufacturer and designed the product range, company logos and advertising materials. In this way, he gave the AEG brand a corporate design.

Wall clock AEG (around 1910)

Peter Behrens designs the administrative headquarters on the banks of the Rhine in Düsseldorf for Mannesmannröhren-Werke AG in 1910. 

© Rudolph Dührkoop, Der Künstler Peter Behrens, 1908, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg
Order Lookbook