Carl Legien (1928)

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#Housing estate #Berlin #1928

Architects

Franz Hillinger, Bruno Taut

Developers

GEHAG Gemeinnützige Heimstätten-, Spar- und Bau-Aktiengesellschaft AG

Address and directions

Erich-Weinert-Straße 98, 100, 101; Georg-Blank-Straße 1, 3, 5; Gubitzstraße 32, 32A, 33, 34, 34A, 35, 36, 36A, 37, 38, 38A, 39-42, 42A, 43, 43A, 44, 44A, 45, 45A, 46; Küselstraße 4, 6, 16, 18, 28, 30, 34; Lindenhoekweg 2, 4, 6, 12, 14, 16; Sodtkestraße 1-34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46; Sültstraße 11-26, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44; Trachtenbrodtstraße 2-34
10409 Berlin, Germany

Public transport: Erich-Weinert-Straße

Access: Accessible

Today's use: Apartment, café

The flowers should once match the architecture exactly...

Description

...that's how seriously architects saw it at the time. They wanted to tell people which flowers to grow on their balconies so that they would match the architecture.

A total of 1,147 flats were built in the complex, with the following breakdown: 300 flats had 1 1⁄2 room, 643 flats had 2 rooms, 80 flats had 2 1⁄2 rooms, five flats had 3 rooms and 116 had 3 1⁄2 rooms. Only four flats had 4 1⁄2 rooms. One flat seems to be missing....
Most of the houses were built in an almost north-south direction and were connected or closed at the edges in the north and south with short connecting structures. In the street Erich-Weinert-Straße, dividing the housing estate into a north and a south half, no connecting structures were added, creating opened courtyards. Originally, these inner areas were designed park-like with hedges as boundaries. After World War II until the 1990s, the residents started to use the courtyards as gardens, of which unfortunately only a few remain today and the park-like, somewhat boring character dominates again.
All courtyards have a different colour, as a kind of orientation aid. The western courtyards are painted green, the central courtyards blue and the eastern courtyards red. The windows are painted in Bruno Taut's typical colours of yellow, blue, red, white and/or black, and the doors are also in different colour schemes, either in yellow, green, red or blue.
All the balconies in the complex face the inner courtyards, resulting that an equal number of balconies face north-east and south-west. This is rather unusual for interwar architecture, as the orientation of balconies to the east and especially to the northeast was tried to be avoided. Smaller side roads lead from the middle street Erich-Weinert-Straße through the estate, where are located the entrances to the houses. All houses have an attic where the residents can dry their laundry.
All the head buildings that face the street Erich-Weinert-Straße are particularly attractive. They are embellished with semi-circular balconies, corner windows and are one storey higher than the rest of the long rows of houses. The two eastern, red blocks are different because the northern one is longer than all the others. In these two blocks were integrated several utility buildings, such as shops and a café on Erich-Weinert-Straße and a combined heat and power plant, wash houses and a kindergarten. This gave the complex a small infrastructure. In addition, this is the place with the really beautiful inscription with the housing estate's name. Since Carl Legien was a social democrat, the Nazis removed the letters immediately in 1933. During the reconstructions up to 2004, the inscriptions were reconstructed. 
One flat was reconstructed in its original state.

History

Built between 1928 and 1930. A complex with around 1,700 flats was planned, but only 1,149 were built, making it one of the small housing estates of Berlin modernism. The different flat sizes in the complex were not only intended to take into account different household sizes, but also to achieve a social mix.
After the estate was listed in 1977, extensive renovation work followed from the mid-1990s until 2004. In 2007, the Carl Legien housing estate became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sources

  • Bernau: Welterbe Wohnstadt Carl Legien Berlin, 2013
Construction types
masoned
Facades
plaster
Windows
corner casement
Roof
flat
Details
balcony canopy lettering
Position
along a street periphere/neighbourhood
Storeys
6

Impressions

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