The architectural work of the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer

The architectural work of the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer

Examination of the documents left behind, and compilation of a catalogue of holdings

Fritz Schupp (1896-1974) and Martin Kremmer (1895-1945) are regarded today as the most important architects of 20th-century mining complexes in Germany. The architectural partnership was involved in the planning and execution of nearly every major industrial complex in the Ruhr, and had a substantial influence on industrial construction, particularly in the mining industry. Their designs, which followed the principles of classical modernity, served as examples for many other complexes. The significance of their oeuvre is underlined by the unique fact that two designs from their architectural practice (a joint operation until 1945) have been included in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites: the Rammelsberg ore mine near Goslar and the Zollverein coal mine and coking plant in Essen-Katernberg.

While there are no longer any actual written records of the former architectural partnership, as far as we are aware at present, a very extensive collection of planning drawings was inherited by the architect who took over Schupp and Kremmer’s practice in Essen, Dipl.-Ing. Herbert Gunia, BDA (Association of German Architects). These plans are regarded as a unique resource for the history of industrial construction in 20th-century mining, and discussions about transferring the collection to proper archival care began early in 2002, on the initiative of PD Dr.-Ing. Wilhelm Busch, and with support from Herbert Gunia. Since then, more than 17,500 plans have been stored in the Bergbau-Archiv, where they are managed as a separate collection under the number 223.
The project which was subsequently initiated and approved – and funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung – had two aims: firstly the archival-quality restoration, conservation and storage of the plan materials, along with depth indexing of the collection in line with scholarly standards, and secondly historical investigation of the collection in the form of a dissertation.
Today the drawings left by Schupp/Kremmer have been completely indexed and digitized. As part of the project, a collection catalogue has been compiled and published: this contains an introductory section with texts arranged by subject, followed by descriptions of the individual construction projects, supplemented by specific information (number of plans, duration, organizations involved etc.) and photographs. All the individual plans, plus additional information, can be accessed via a DVD contained in the collection catalogue. A revised list of works reflects the current state of research on the oeuvre of Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer.
The documents left behind provide a record of five decades of planning activity from 1921 to 1971. The dissertation produced as part of the project deals with the two architects’ student period, the beginning of their careers, and their first major projects (the Alma and Nordstern coking plants, the Zollverein 12 pit), against the background of key developments of the 1920s: strivings towards modernization and concentration, and the establishment of the Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG. A further focus is the activity of the Schupp/Kremmer firm under National Socialism. The regime’s aspirations to self-sufficiency and rearmament ensured a veritable flood of commissions. Based on the Schupp/Kremmer projects in the areas of mining and synthetic fuel production, an attempt is made to help rebut the myth that industrial construction was a ‘niche’ of modern architecture that somehow remained ‘unsullied’ during the Nazi period. In the post-war period, in his plans at the time of the ‘economic miracle’, Fritz Schupp tried successfully to create links with cubic, functional designs of the 1920s and early 1930s. Another important aspect is the way the Schupp/Kremmer practice dealt with new constructions and materials; this is examined with reference to the 1950s and 1960s in particular. Perusal of the drawings revealed one striking thing: the mode of design is conservative and destined for execution by traditional workmanship. This particularly applies to buildings which were conceived for humans and not for technical complexes, such as administrative buildings and social housing. The high proportion of conservatively oriented designs in the plans left behind is in stark contrast to the image of clear, cubic, functional architecture with which the practice is still associated today. Scholarly analysis of the plans left behind by the Schupp/Kremmer practice has made it possible, for the first time, to clearly identify the breadth of the tasks they performed and the variety of designs they created. It is precisely the non-linear progression, the breaks and contradictions in their oeuvre that prove its relevance for a history of architecture concerned with the pluralism and the specific problems of the 20th century.

Project manager

Dr. Michael Farrenkopf

Responsible body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum


Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung