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Wohnstadt Carl Legien
Carl Legien housing estate © Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, Foto: Wolfgang Bittner

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

Added to The World Heritage List

In July 2008 six representative Berlin Modernism housing estates were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The estates, built between 1919 and 1934, are outstanding examples of the residential architecture of the 1920s.

In contrast to house building in Berlin in the time of the German Empire with dark backyards and cramped flats without any daylight and lacking basic hygienic facilities, bright, light-filled apartments were created. The buildings are important witnesses to the social housing not only of that period but also of the entire 20th century.

Light and Air

Berlin’s rise to a metropolis in the 19th century went hand in hand with enormous housing problems. Factory workers lived in confining, dark flats in tenement buildings with several backyards. Changes in the law at the end of the 19th century, combined with the founding of housing cooperatives, enabled a residential building programme based on social reform, the realisation of a new social living culture and concepts of life derived from the English garden city model. Light and air were the declared goals. These housing estates were built in the plain, straightforward aesthetic Bauhaus style without any decorations or frills – albeit with plenty of colourful designs. The period of democratic housing building came to an end in 1933, since the Nazis had a completely different, anti-modern concept of housing building. Fortunately they hardly changed the existing buildings and most of them survived the Allied bombing raids of the Second World War intact. Today the flats and houses of the Modernism housing estates are much coveted in the property market.

The housing estates

  • Gartenstadt Falkenberg (Treptow), 1913-15 built by Bruno Taut, open spaces by Ludwig Lesser
  • Schillerpark-Siedlung (Wedding), 1924-30 built by Bruno Taut and Franz Hoffmann, partly reconstructed in 1951 by Max Taut, extension 1954-59 by Hans Hoffmann
  • Großsiedlung Britz Hufeisensiedlung (Neukölln), 1925-31 built by Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner, Freiflächen von Leberecht Migge
  • Wohnstadt Carl Legien (Prenzlauer Berg), 1928-30 built by Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger
  • Weiße Stadt (Reinickendorf), 1929-31 built by Bruno Ahrends, Wilhelm Büning and Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, housing estate green by Ludwig Lesser
  • Großsiedlung Siemensstadt (Charlottenburg and Spandau), 1929-31 built by Otto Bartning, Fred Forbat, Walter Gropius, Hugo Häring, Paul Rudolf Henning, Hans Scharoun, open spaces by Leberecht Migge