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Health Resort Burgtiefe

Burgtiefe, Germany
Guesthouse of the Health Resort.jpg
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Health resort for the Baltic Sea spa town named Burgtiefe was built on the island south of the city Burg and had been used for spa reasons since the 19th century. The resort is a key object in the history of spa culture at the German Baltic sea during the 1960s which responds to recreation for the general public. The complex is developed in a traditional way along a spa promenade but instead of being built around a palatial hotel it is centred on a wave pool as a modern experimental space.

The health resort Burgtiefe consists of the “Meereswellenbad” (wave pool), “Haus des Kurgastes” (guesthouse of the health resort) and “Kurmittelhaus” (wellness and therapy centre). The building ensemble is aligned to a spa promenade along the beach, which not only connects the buildings but also provides protection from wind and weather. The expressive force of the wave pool is complemented by delicate modernist pavilions. The interior with terrazzo flooring, lighting, furniture and door handles was designed by Arne Jacobsen. The functions inside the resort’s guesthouse are arranged as islands in the transparent hall. Further hotels, family bungalows and a marina were planned in the vicinity of the resort, also by Jacobsen.

Construction & Plan Scheme

The wave pool consists of a load-bearing construction of seven sloped pairs of reinforced concrete beams outside the building. Each span is 8m long and the module is 1m. The glass elements of the curtain wall facade (1x3m) are held by narrow aluminum profiles. The guesthouse of the health resort consists of a skeleton of reinforced concrete and prefab elements of concrete. The glass elements of the curtain wall facade (1x3m) are held by aluminum profiles. The concrete flat roof cantilevers broadly in each direction. The buildings are connected by pergolas with metal-profiles and timber elements (sunscreens).

The wave pool is an example for the examination of the possibilities of the sloped, hanging, hovering or flying roof which is a characteristic subject of Modernism in the 1960s. The expressivity of the load-bearing construction outside the building as an artistic element is typical during this period. The formation of the glass facade as a Curtain-Wall which works independent from the load-bearing construction can be defined as continuity and further development of the Modernism of the 1920s.

The constructive monumentality of the wave pool’s transparency allows for a sea view while the delicate architecture of the resort’s guesthouse forms a dynamic concept based on contrast and shared elements. The buildings are characterized by typical features of Arne Jacobsen’s architecture such as the dynamics of horizontal and vertical elements, well-balanced proportions of the facades and the use of only a few noble materials. The pureness of the architecture is characterized by reduction of form and material as well as careful completion of succinct details.


As the growth of the bathing traditions at the German Baltic Sea led to new spa resorts by the economic boom in the 1960s, Burgtiefe can be seen as a key object, being one of the first of its kind as a complex. The design of the buildings was carefully planned and linearly arranged in accordance with their function. The pure and clear modern architecture of the health resort is a highlight in spa culture on the German Baltic Seaside in the 1960s. Furthermore, the construction by a Danish architect documents the ambition of the young Federal Republic to become international. After WWII, especially Scandinavian Modernism was a big inspiration for German architecture.

The health resort in Burgtiefe is considered as a self-consistent piece of art. The elegant and filigree appearance of the architecture as well as the functional design is based on highest quality of execution. The pure and clear modern architecture of the health resort is seen as highlight in spa culture on the German Baltic Seaside in the 1960es. As one of the first of its kind the complex in Burgtiefe is a key object. The clear shape of modernist design combined with expressionistic elements distinguishes itself from the later brutalism and stands out by elegance and careful detailing, the integration of the surrounding nature reflects the artistic value of the complex. For its preservation it is crucial that every intervention and alteration is carried out with special care as even little changes can lead to the loss of architectural quality.

Later Alterations

Despite the architects’ resistance, three 17-storied apartment towers were built instead of the 3-4 storied hotel resort in the 1970s. Extensions and alterations were implemented on the wellness and therapy centre by Dissing and Weitling at the beginning of the 1990s, including alterations of the public space, leading to the loss of the buildings’ plateau-formed base structure, as well as the original coloring. In the end, the wellness and therapy centre was demolished in 2007.The structures of the wave pool and the guesthouse of the health resort are in good condition but not sufficiently maintained. Recent renovations have affected the design of the buildings. The whole ensemble is threatened by the development of a new holiday resort with an adjacent water park.

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