The settlements built between 1913 and 1934 (Gartenstadt Falkenberg, Schillerpark, Großsiedlung Britz, Wohnstadt Carl Legien, Weiße Stadt and Großsiedlung Siemensstadt) represent the development of modern urban planning and social housing after the First World War.
Settlements of Berlin Modernism: Facts
|Official title:||Berlin Modernism Settlements|
|Cultural monument:||Six residential complexes built in Berlin between 1913 and 1934 according to the principle of functional and socially responsible architecture; The utopia pursued by the leading, Bauhaus-influenced architects Bruno Taut, Hans Scharoun and Walter Gropius, as well as the town planning officer Martin Wagner, is the creation of livable living space for the general public; increased use of light, plants and color as well as orientation towards an aesthetic functionality; Residential buildings with a generous ratio of built-up area and public green space as well as ensuring modern hygienic standards; all apartments with kitchen, bathroom, balcony, gardens; In addition to a strict, standardized formal structure, also expressive facade design and unconventional floor plan solutions|
|Country:||Germany, see constructmaterials|
|Meaning:||Masterpieces of an aesthetic and livable urban housing; groundbreaking innovative buildings for modern architecture of the 20th century worldwide; unique realization of large housing estates with individual artistic signature; outstanding development of hygienic and social standards for urban living|
Settlements of Berlin Modernism: History
|1913-1934||Social housing in Berlin, building the garden cities|
|1913-1916||Falkenberg garden city|
|1925-1930||Large housing estate Britz|
|1928-1930||Carl Legien’s residential town|
|1929-1934||Siemensstadt housing estate|
The development of social housing
Six representative housing estates were built in Berlin between 1913 and 1934. They represent a new type of social housing and exerted a considerable influence in the period that followed. In 2008 they were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
These were the characteristics of this new type of housing estate, which made them stand out from the tenements of the imperial era. Berlin urgently needed new living space, as the capital’s population had grown explosively since the middle of the 19th century. The people lived in a confined space, sometimes under inhumane conditions. In order to put an end to this housing misery, architects of classic modernism now opted for well-designed, functional, modern and above all affordable apartments with a kitchen, bathroom and balcony – by far not a matter of course at the time. Backyards were dispensed with, instead the planners relied on gardens and green spaces in order to achieve a better and healthier standard of living for the poorer sections of the population.
A historical alliance of art and politics ensured that 140,000 new apartments could be built in Berlin between 1924 and 1931. The merging of the architects’ aesthetic ideas with the social ideas of the political left is unique. In this way, a small utopia could be realized in Berlin, which was only put to an end when the National Socialists came to power. Until then, unions, cooperatives and the city itself financed these innovative building projects that wanted to create a new architecture for a new society.
The architects of the Berlin Modernism estates – above all Bruno Taut (* 1880, † 1938), who worked on four of the six settlements – tried to implement new architectural concepts in their buildings. Instead of building in blocks, people now built in rows; There were no more back houses and courtyards. The later settlements of Berlin Modernism in particular were increasingly oriented towards the concept of the nuclear family, as it was now becoming commonplace in the cities. Living and sleeping rooms were separated, and there were also their own bathrooms and even children’s rooms.
Today there has been a change in the ownership structure of the settlements. Most of the apartments were privatized and given to tenants or investors. But this change could not change one thing: the new owners are also able to preserve the listed building and still live with all modern comforts.
The settlement built between 1929 and 1934 was given its nickname »Ringsiedlung« by the architects »Der Ring«. Hans Scharoun’s designs ensured that the old trees in the districts of Charlottenburg and Spandau were preserved, so that the residents of the 1370 apartments had plenty of green around them despite the urban location.
The oldest of the 6 settlements is the Falkenberg Garden City, also known as the »Tuschkastensiedlung«, in the Treptow-Köpenick district. It owes this nickname to its expressive colors: components such as windows, shutters, balcony parapets or cornices create attractive contrasts to the actual colors of the houses. It was built between 1913 and 1916 according to plans by the architect Bruno Taut. It comprises 128 apartments with a size of one to five rooms.
The Schillerpark estate was also built under the direction of Bruno Taut and was built between 1924 and 1930 in the Wedding district. What is new here is the spatial structure that is visible to the outside. For example, the houses have a continuous jamb floor with laundry rooms and drying rooms.
With the large Britz housing estate, experimentation with large forms began. The largest of the six Berlin settlements in terms of size was built between 1925 and 1930 on the site of the former Britz manor in the Neukölln district. Up to 5000 people lived in the 1963 apartments (including 472 single-family houses), today there are still around 3100. Here, too, Bruno Taut was in charge, who planned and implemented the estate together with his colleague Martin Wagner. The large Britz settlement is also known as the “horseshoe settlement” because one of its rows of houses hugs an Ice Age pool like a horseshoe. Architecture and topography are harmoniously combined.
The first chairman of the General Union of Trade Unions, Carl Legien, gave the settlement, which was again built by Bruno Taut between 1928 and 1930, its name. It is located in the Prenzlauer Berg district and therefore closest to the city center of all Berlin Modernist housing developments. The immediate vicinity of the residential city to the Wilhelminian-style quarters shows perfectly that new building and living with a lot of openness and green spaces is also possible in the inner cities.
Between 1929 and 1931, the White City with its 1,268 apartments was built in the Reinickendorf district. This settlement was designed by Otto Rudolf Salvisberg (* 1882, † 1940), who set a clear contrast to the settlements of Bruno Taut, especially in terms of color: the facades of the houses are kept in white, but colorful windows, rain gutters or entrance doors set lively color accents. In addition, 25 shops, a doctor’s office, a children’s home and a café ensured that the residents of the White City lacked for nothing.