Sep Ruf

Bayerische Staatsbank Nuremberg atrium building
Hirschelgasse Nuremberg Patio with stairs

Sep Ruf (full name Franz Joseph Ruf; 9 March 1908, in Munich 29 July 1982, in Munich)[1] was a German architect and designer, belonging to the Bauhaus group. He was one of the representatives of modern architecture in Germany after World War II. His elegant buildings received high credits in Germany and Europe and his German pavilion of the Expo 58 in Brussels, built together with Egon Eiermann, achieved worldwide recognition. He attended the Interbau 1957 in Berlin-Hansaviertel and was one of the three architects who had the top secret order to create the governmental buildings in the new capital city of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn. His best known building was the residence for the Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, built for Ludwig Erhard, the so-called Chancellor's Bungalow.

Personal life

Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg Entry
Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg Aula
Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg
New Maxburg Munich curved stairs with glass-ceiling
New Maxburg Munich stair

His father was Josef Ruf and his mother was Wilhelmine Mina Ruf (née Scharrer). The family of his father came from Dinkelsbühl and his mother's family lived in Weißenburg in Bayern, both in middle Franconia.[1] He had a brother Franz Ruf born 1909. His first years at school he spent in a primary school in Munich. He was a Roman Catholic and went to the boy scouts, where he met friends, he had for his life time: Golo Mann, the son of the famous German writer and Nobel laureate in literature Thomas Mann and the later physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Werner Heisenberg. Until his years of study he went to the Luitpold-Oberrealschule and he loved skiing and climbing in the mountains.[2] During this time he met his later fiancée, Aloisia Ruf, née Mayer, born in Munich, 2 April 1910, a daughter of a factory owner. They married 1938, built a home in Gmund am Tegernsee and had two children. His bureau was in Munich. Ruf loved to travel and he visited Austria, Italy, Greece, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the United States and Norway. 1969 he bought a winery in Italy and renovated the house. He became friend with many artists like Marino Marini and Bruno Pulga and had guests in Italy such as Henry Moore. He also kept in touch with Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra and Romano Guardini. He is called to be the German architect, who realized the ideas of the Bauhaus most consequent. In 1982 he died in Munich and was buried at the mountain cemetery of Gmund am Tegernsee.[3][4]

Early career

He studied architecture and city planning at the Technical University Munich from 1926 until 1931. Then he opened his own bureau. One year later his brother spent a year in his bureau before he opened his own. Ruf began to build houses for doctors, actors and manufacturers and they loved his light and bright buildings. In 1933, when he was 23 years old, he built a flat-roof house for Karl Schwend[5] in Munich and was cautioned from the new authorities, because from 1933 on the building of a flat-roof house was forbidden.[6] He continued building houses and now he had to build them with pitched roofs, but the interior did not change and was still bright and had wide rooms and large windows. From 1936-1938 he was ordered to build parts of the Werdenfels and the Kemmel barracks in Murnau, after the war they were used by the US army and German troops.[7] As soon as possible he went back to the building of private houses. In 1939 Ruf had to go to war. From 1940 to 1942 he was allowed to stay at home because he worked as an independent architect with the family of Hugo Junkers. From 1934 to 1936, one year before his death, Junkers had allowed the 26-year-old architect to build an estate for his workers in Grünwald, Bavaria. Hugo Junkers, who had lost nearly all of his inventions and his factory in Dessau to the new authorities and now lived near Munich under surveillance, now did research for metal-housing. In 1942 Ruf had to go to the Russian front and after the war had ended, he went back to Germany by foot and directly began his work of rebuilding Germany with the Church Christkönig in Munich.

First modern buildings

One of his first works were buildings for the HICOG (High Commissioner of Germany), the Allied High Commission at the palace Deichmannsaue in Bad-Godesberg/Bonn together with the architects Otto Apel, Rudolf Letocha, Rohrer and Herdt. The tower-building of the HICOG went to be the Embassy of the United States in Bonn from 1955 until 1999. After the Embassy moved to Berlin the two parts became two ministries.[8][9] They also built the residential estates of Plittersdorf, Tannenbusch and Muffendorf, where the German and American staff lived. Every estate had about 400 houses, wide streets and an apartment tower in the middle. Ruf made the development plan.

From 1949 till 1951 he built the Bayerische Staatsbank in Nuremberg an atrium-building with a large glass-ceiling.[10]

professorship and teaching

In 1947 Ruf became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg. The original building was destroyed, so the first academy was in the residence of Ellingen. Ruf later built the new pavilions for the Academy of Fine Arts at Bingstreet. In 1953 he went to the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich and was the president from 1958 to 1961. In 1971 he was pronounced as an honorary member.[11] He was one of the founders of the Academy of Fine Arts, Berlin (west), Akademie der Künste, he was a member of the academy from 1955 until 1982.[12]

Academy of Fine Arts Nuremberg

During 1952-1954 he built the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg. The pavilions were connected with open, roofed passageways all in white in a green park with old trees. The flat-roofed light seeming building is the only campus in the world, made in this way. The only high building is the auditorium, on both sides open with glass-walls. The way to build these pavilions was later used again for the pavilions of the Expo 58 in Brussels. The studios and ateliers are looking to the atrium, so the students can work inside as well as outside in the green patio. It was the first building in southern Germany that became heritage-protected.[13]

New Maxburg Munich

One of his most elegant buildings was the New Maxburg in Munich. William V., Duke of Bavaria, built the residence from 1593 to 1596. In the 17th century it was called the Herzog-Max-Burg. After it was destroyed in World War II., only the renaissance-tower was still standing. The city asked some architects to find ideas for the place and allowed to destroy the old tower. Only Ruf and Theo Papst were the two architects, who wanted to save it. So both got the order to build the New Maxburg. The steel skeleton building followed the structure of the tower and in the middle of the buildings is a green meadow and a fountain. The building of Justice is one of the most elegant buildings in Europe, like Nikolaus Pevsner wrote. Especially the Atrium with the glass-ceiling and the curved stair is impressing.[14][15]

World fair Brussels 1958

Expo Brussels 1958

The sign of the Expo 58 in Brussels was the Atomium. 41.454.412 people visited the exhibition. Ruf and Egon Eiermann made plans for the German pavilion and it was decided they should work together. They decided to build eight glass-pavilions that were connected with open pathways, like Ruf had designed for the Academy of Fine Arts, Nuremberg.[16] They were placed within a garden of 6000 m² and in the middle was a little pond. The garden was designed by the landscape architect Walter Rossow from the Deutscher Werkbund. There was a 57 m long steel-bridge with a 50 m high pylon. The newspapers of the world gave the best critics. The Times, London, wrote: "It is the most elegant pavilion of the exhibition".[17][18]

Chancellor's Bungalow Bonn

Chancellor's Bungalow

In 1962 Ruf, Egon Eiermann and Paul Baumgarten got the top secret order to design and build the government buildings of the new capital city of the western part of Germany, Bonn. Every architect got his own part to realize. For example, the new upper house of the German parliament, the tower building of the delegates, the privat- and representative house of the chancellor of the Federal Republic.

In 1963 and 1964 Ruf built the house for the chancellor. It was to be a house to live in and also to be a representative building to welcome guests of state. In a park beside the river Rhine he built a flat-roofed house with large glass-windows, that should show the open democratic way, the new Germany was thinking. The bungalow is designed with two quadrates with two atriums and one part of the house is wide open to the park and the other private part into one atrium with a little swimming pool. When Ludwig Erhard got the keys he said: "You can understand me better, when you look at this house, as if you would listen to a political speech of mine". Ludwig Erhard[19] and Helmut Schmidt liked the modern building, Willy Brandt, who had young children, stayed in the house he lived in before and used it for state visitors. Helmut Kohl lived there nearly 16 years, until Berlin became the new capital city. Today it is a museum and can be visited.[20][21] Until today no representative in the world has had such an open residence, as the Chancellor's Bungalow was.[22]

Ruf realized a lot of buildings in Bonn, for example the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection[8] and the addition to Haus Carstanjen, the former Federal Ministry of Finance (Germany), today the UNFCCC of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,[23] is part of the UN-Campus.[24] 2014 the Chancellor's Bungalow was the central part of the German contribution at the der 14th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. It was built 1:1 into the German pavilion.[25]

Further modern buildings

US-Consulat General in Munich
Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nuremberg Theodor-Heuss-Building

Ruf made development plans for the cities, of Nuremberg, Munich, Fulda and Bonn.

1960-1966 he built the tower building of the BHF Bank, with 82 m and 23 stories, 1966 it was the highest tower building of the financial metropolis.[26]

In 1852 Hans von und zu Aufseß had the idea to realize a museum for a "well-ordered compendium of all available source material for German history, literature and art". Parts of the former Nuremberg Charterhouse, dissolved in 1525, where used for the museum. During World War II. great parts of the museum were destroyed. So Ruf and Harald Roth made the development plans. They began to rebuilt the museum from 1953 until 1978 and Ruf designed several modern exhibition areas. The first was the Theodor Heuss -Bau. The first Federal President Theodor Heuss came to the opening and said, he was happy to see, that there was conceived something new, than to try to imitate the old.

St. Johann von Capistran is a round Church and it is called to be the last cathedral in Munich. Ruf built it 1958–60. The building is designed with two crescent-shaped shells, in the inside there are the sacred rooms. The flat roof is lying upon a circlet of glass and has a glass-dome. Outside 22 pillars hold the roof free above the open room.[27]

The Bavarian State Library is one of Europe's most important universal libraries. With its collections currently comprising around 9.81 million books. The legal deposit law has been in force since 1663, regulating that two copies of every printed work published in Bavaria have to be submitted to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. This law is still applicable today. The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek furthermore is Europe's second-largest journals library (after the British Library). Parts of the Library were destroyed in world war II.[28]

1953-1966 the professors Hans Döllgast and Ruf had to plan and realized the reconstruction of the eastern wing, a new area behind historic walls, and the extension building of the Bavarian State Library, a glass-steel frame construction for the bibliotheca. They made an available surface of 17,000 m2 and a volume of 84,000 m3. In 1967 a jury with Hans Scharoun gave the price of the BDA Bayern to the extension building.

1956–1957 he built the royal picture palace am Goetheplatz in Munich, in those days one of the two picture palaces in Europe, playing Todd-AO, and Michael Todd came to the opening and they showed the German first broadcast of the musical Oklahoma!.

In Berlin he was part of the historic International Building Exhibition, the Interbau 1957 in Berlin. On the area of the Hansaviertel 53 architects from 13 countries made 35 drafts, that were realized by Alvar Aalto, Paul Baumgarten, Egon Eiermann, Walter Gropius, Arne Jacobsen, Oscar Niemeyer, Max Taut, Pierre Vargo and Ruf and others. 1160 living quarters, tower buildings and flat roofed houses, churches, cinema, library, kindergarten and a subway station. Walter Rossow, a landscape gardener from Berlin planned with a team the green areas. Three buildings of the exhibition were built by Le Corbusier, Hugh Stubbins (US) and Bruno Grimmek. Some of the artists were Henry Moore, Fritz Winter and Bernhard Heiliger. Ruf built two flat roofed houses.[29][30]

Further buildings were the Max Planck Institute for Physics with the Werner Heisenberg -institute for Physics, in Munich-Freimann[31][32] and the German University of Administrative Sciences Speyer.[33]

The baroque town of Fulda called him to be part of the committee of art of the city. He designed the frontage of the storage- building of Karstadt[34] and built the Patronatsbau, he also designed the Universitäts- and Borgiaplatz.[35] His aim was to make an elegant inclusion of a modern building into the baroque surrounding. He also built the modern Church for the catholic seminary students in Fulda.

Ruf formed the Tucherpark, named after Hans Christoph Freiherr von Tucher (1904-1968), lawyer, executive spokesman of the Bayerischen Vereinsbank. There he built the technical centre and some administration buildings of the HypoVereinsbank at the Eisbach, from 1964 until 1974 the buildings for IBM and the Hilton Park Hotel. At Lake Tegernsee he designed the museum for the painter and graphic artist Olaf Gulbransson . 1978–1982 another building for a museum was his hall for aviation- and space flight for the Deutsches Museum[36] Munich.


Sep Ruf steel-tube chair and table 1949
Sep Ruf sideboard for Ludwig Erhard in the design museum of the Pinakothek der Moderne Munich

Beneath his architectural works he designed a large schedule of furniture. He designed for every house he built and he made different works, belonging to the house and to the inhabitants. He used every material and worked with wood, glass and chrome. He made steel-tube furniture as well as lamps with basketwork.

His wooden furniture also begins as natural country style, with a modern and very simple way, as well as his representative tables for bureaus and living with chrome, wood and glass. His design is classic and timeless.

He designed for living, official areas and churches, even the sacred parts.

Mostly known he got with the furniture of the living- and representative house, the so-called chancellor's bungalow for Chancellor Ludwig Erhard in Bonn.


The oeuvre of Ruf lead onto several academic studies and presentations about his buildings and his life and work in Germany,[37][38] Switzerland,[39] Italy and the US.[40][41]

List of works (selection)




  1. 1 2 "Neue Deutsche Biographie". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  2. archive Sep Ruf, Family of Sep Ruf
  3. Gerd Otto-Rieke: Gräber in Bayern. München 2000. S.9.
  5. "Wohnhaus Delpstraße 15". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  6. Winfried Nerdinger mit Irene Meissner: Sep Ruf 1908–1982 Moderne mit Tradition 2008, Seite 28-29
  7. (Siehe Buch "Sep Ruf 1908–1982", Winfried Nerdinger, S.160 und 162).
  8. 1 2 "BBR Bauten des Bundes in Bonn". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  9. "BBR Bauten des Bundes in Bonn". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  10. Michael Metzner. "Baukunst Nürnberg: Nachkriegszeit Staatsbank". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  12. "Ruf". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  13. Michael Metzner. "Baukunst Nürnberg: Nachkriegszeit Akademie". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  16. – 11. Mai 2013, 18:53 –. "Gläserne Klarheit: Der grosse deutsche Nachkriegsarchitekt Sep Ruf in einer Münchner Ausstellung - Übersicht Nachrichten". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  17. "EXPO2000 ::The Brussels World Exposition 1958::". 1958-10-19. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  18. Von Willi Mohrs (2013-04-25). "Expo-Brücke zog von Brüssel nach Duissern nach Neudorf |" (in German). Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  19. "Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Architekt des Kanzlerbungalows - Sep Ruf". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  20. "Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Kanzlerbungalow". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  21. "Kanzlerbungalow by Burkhardt + Schumacher Architekten und Ingenieure dwb, BDA | Bonn". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  23. "BBR Bauten für die Vereinten Nationen". 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  24. "BBR Bauten für die Vereinten Nationen". 2003-05-28. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  26. "BHF-BANK Aktiengesellschaft" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  28. "Die Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Der Erweiterungsbau". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  29. "Bürgerverein Hansaviertel". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  30. "Architektur im Berliner Hansaviertel =Ruf". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  31. Max-Planck-Instituts für Physik (Werner-Heisenberg-Institut) München. "Max-Planck-Institut für Physik". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  34. "Karstadt in Fulda | Öffnungszeiten und Filialinformationen". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  35. "BAUWELT - Prägender Einfluss". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  36. "Deutsches Museum: Aeronautics". 1997-09-17. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  37. "Fakultät für Architektur: Institute for History of Architecture, History of Art and Restoration". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  40. "> Grantees > Lynnette Widder". Graham Foundation. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  41. "Lynnette Widder receives Graham Foundation research grant « RISD Academic Affairs". 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  42. 1 2 150 Eigenheime, Verlag F. Bruckmann AG, München 1951
  43. Baumonographische Behandlung bei: Roman Hillmann, Die Erste Nachkriegsmoderne. Ästhetik und Wahrnehmung der westdeutschen Architektur 1945-63, Petersberg 2011, Seiten 91-122
  44. Michael Metzner. "Baukunst Nürnberg: Nachkriegszeit Wohnanlage_Hirschelgasse". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  45. Fritz Aschka: Mein Nürnberg. 60 Ausflüge in die Geschichte. Nürnberger Presse 2007. S. 74 f.
  47. Für den guten Ruf
  48. "Ausstellung in Stuttgart / Sep Ruf - Architektur und Architekten - News / Meldungen / Nachrichten". Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  50. "Ausstellung über den Münchner Architekten Sep Ruf - Fuldaer Zeitung". 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2013-05-11.


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