Tour of the Hufeisensiedlung, 22nd July 2012

2012.05.09

The tour cancelled in June now rescheduled for 2pm on 22nd July.  All other details the same:

Ben Buschfeld and his wife Katrin Lesser (www.katrin-lesser.de) conduct private tours of the estate; Katrin is a landscape architect; her great-grandfather was Ludwig Lesser, a luminary in the field.

Length 1-1/2 to 2 hours, cost €7 per head, departing on foot from U-Bahn station Parchimer Allee at street level, on the corner of Parchimer Allee and Fritz-Reuter-Allee.

The tour will hopefully conclude with a visit to Taut’s Home (www.tautes-heim.de), designed by Bruno Taut and faithfully restored with furnishings of the era. This is a holiday flat, so if that property happens to be occupied, Ben will show us around his private home — also designed by Taut — and show photos and documentation of the Taut’s Home renovation.

Max 20 participants. In the event of poor weather we’ll reschedule.

If interested, let me know via Facebook, or jimhudson40 (at) googlemail.com

Categories : Bruno Taut   Early modernism   Event

Shellhaus visit and Stammtisch

2010.02.21

One of our number has proposed a second ‘Architecture Circle’ group visit, this time the Emil Fahrenkamp’s Shellhaus on the north bank of the Landwehrkanal, just along from the Neue Nationalgalerie.  I’ve obliquely mentioned in a post a while back.

A tour is available on the 4th March at 2pm, and is free. They need numbers, so let me know asap if you’d like to join us (all welcome).

Apologies that this is once again a weekday, but the next one will be a saturday – I’m thinking of doing a tour of some lovely Kreuzberg IBA projects.

Also, the next Stammtisch will once again return to its normal spot of the first tuesday of the month, so Tuesday the 2nd March at 8pm.  As usual at Kim – Brunnenstrasse 10, Berlin 10119.  Everyone and anyone welcome, who fancies a beer and a chat about architecture, urbanism and related things.

I know what I did last summer.

2009.12.26

I may have mentioned previously (at least twelve times) how I’m not getting out much lately to look at architecty things.  So in order to have something to blog about, I thought I’d employ some nostalgia.   Moments from the tale end of this summer in fact, when I was working at the Art Forum Berlin up at the Messehalle.  It’s part of that site which also includes the immense 1970s bulk of the ICC (International Conference Centre) as well as the almost-certainly-doomed Deutschlandhalle.

La la la, I’m putting  a line in here as the site design won’t allow me to space out the images to avoid visual confusion.  So no need need to read this bit.

Not knowing the building, I’d imagined that I’d be stuck manning a stand in some dismal artificially lit exhibition cavern, and have a rubbish time.  It turned out not; although the front of the ICC is all imposing overblown fascism, although you can’t help being grudgingly impressed by the entrance hall as the sunlight floods from high above – but carry on through to the back section (the restaurant area, usually my first port of call at any trade fair) and you suddenly find yourself in endearing postwar light-touch modernism.  To me it had the feel of London’s South Bank during the Festival of Britain (I hadn’t been born at the time – it was 1951 – but I’ve looked at lots of pictures, and my dad used to bore regularly on the subject when I was a teenager).  Anyway, it’s nice isn’t it?

I haven’t tried very hard, but haven’t found any information about the back of the building.  1950s?  1960s?  Let me know if you know!

Also, straight across the road, if you’re out and about in that direction, is Hans Poelzig’s Haus des Rundfunks* (House of Radio).  Not to be missed, although I only had time for a jog round during a quick lunch break, hence not many photos of it on my Flickr.

*It’s Rundfunks with an ’s’ by the way, because it’s in the Genitiv (Possessive) case.  Every second building in Berlin is a grammar test…

And finally, (from that particular jaunt), as you come out of the nearest U-Bahn up at Kaiserdamm, you can see a Hans Scharoun housing block across the road.  I recognised it as probably Scharoun, but guessed it as 1950s, maybe 1960s.  Actually, it’s 1928-1929.  Amazing really.

Was just browsing through my photos from ‘09, and have tonnes of this sort of stuff to blog, so won’t actually have to go outside again until spring.  Luckily, thanks to the gift of Christmas, I have a supply of chocolate that will last until May.  Happy New Year!

I took all the above photos by the way, and license them under a Creative Commons license, so you’re welcome to use them for non-commercial purposes (unlikely they’d be good enough for anything else…) but do credit me/my blog if you do use them on your own blogs/dissertations/Wikipedia etc (you know who you are!).

Mauerfall, Part 1

2009.07.06

I’m not one for being up-to-date or cutting edge with my blog content (I’m more of a ponderer) but even I have noticed that 2009 is of course the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

To this end, I thought I’d start a series of posts about Berlin places and buildings on its route. I’m not doing them in a particular order, but I might at some point renumber these to make a sort of ad hoc guide. There’s actually a very good cycle guide to the entire route (now also available in English) nearly all of which we’ve cycled. There’s a bit to the north of Berlin which we missed, because we found a rather good restaurant, and lunch ran over schedule.  You can do it in three days comfortably – we just cycled to the nearest station and came home each evening, then restarted the next day at the same point, so I can’t make recommendations for accomodation.

Thanks to Julie (see comments) who noted this useful link: http://www.berlin.de/mauer/mauerweg/index/index.en.php.

Anyway, I’ve elected to start at Michael-Kirch-Platz, which I would insert here as a Googlemap, but can’t get it to work, so here’s a link instead.

I feel really strongly that if you want to get a feel for the wall and its history, far better to get a good book on it and walk some stretches like this, away from Checkpoint Charlie and the tourists.

In case you didn’t know, the Wall (die Mauer) was not really a wall as such – more a series of fences, barriers and heavily guarded strips which formed an inpenetrable barrier around West Berlin.  In central Berlin the outermost line usually took the form of the familiar concrete slabs with tubular concrete section on top that’s become the image of ‘The Wall’.  There’s still bits all over the place:

All this sort of thing you can read elsewhere I’m sure, so back to Michael-Kirk-Platz.  It’s one of those many spots in Berlin where you find yourself so surrounded by history that the place seems somehow to be resting, exhausted, hoping for a quiet life from now on.  The wall ran across the bridge over the Spree (top right hand corner of map) then followed the curve of the old Luisenstadt canal (filled in early in the 20th century but its route still clearly visible, and now a long thin park) down to Michael-Kirk-Platz, where there is still a small lake remaining (the Engelbecker – angel basin) before dropping south.  Confusingly, everything to the south and east of the wall at this point was in West Berlin, everything to the north and west was in East Berlin.

It emphasizes Kreuzberg’s strange isolated location in the already isolated West Berlin of the Cold War years; the allies divided Berlin into sectors which generally followed the district lines, and the wall followed these when it went up, so at Michael-Kirk-Platz divided Kreuzberg in the south-east from Mitte, the central district of the East German capital.

The Kirk (church) itself was heavily damaged in WWII bombing and the nave is now just a shell; only the transepts, main tower and apse are now enclosed and in use:

This was on a poster by the entrance – you can clearly see the small lake and the route of the disused canal heading running south:

Another image from the board, showing the wall pre-1989.  You can just make out a guard tower to the right, in the ‘death strip’.  The church was in West Berlin:

Taking a walk around the Platz is a brief history of the last 100 years of building in Berlin.  Taking a turn about the square from north west, anticlockwise:

First are a group of refurbished east german Plattenbau housing blocks:

…standing right next to some recent new apartment blocks – nothing to write home about in architectural terms, but representative of post-Wall reconstruction and of the area’s not-so-creeping gentrification:

The apartments face across the Engelbecker to older 19th century blocks – before 1989 this would have been a view looking from East Berlin over the wall into the West (the wall running where the line of trees is).  I’m often struck by how strange a situation it all was – the two worlds able to look across at each other every day:

Then, on a different note, a piece of seminal early modernism by Bruno Taut, mentioned in my earlier post:

Off to its left is a block which I know nothing about – at first glance an east german Plattenbau, but on closer inspection older, perhaps Nazi-era (I think) judging by the stonework detailing.  Currently a local activist squat by the look of it:

Walking away from the Platz along the line of the canal/Wall to the north, you witness the amazing contrast between the carefully kept park, with new private apartments behind:

and immediately opposite, an increasingly rare scene here – people living in that other place, in a range of (often) dilapidated vehicles and makeshift buildings:

Refurbished buildings still stand alone in large open plots, created by allied bombing and postwar clearance – now a unique and integral part of Berlin’s urbanity:

And of course that strange self-built ‘Haus am Mauer‘:

Bruno Taut – Meister des farbigen bauens in Berlin / Master of colourful architecture in Berlin

2009.06.03

Verlagshaus Braun, 2008.  Edited by the Deutscher Werkbund Berlin.

Majority of text in german and english, with some of the english texts slightly summarised. Short building descriptions are in german only, but fairly easy to work out.

Amazon link

Bruno Taut is accepted as one of the founding fathers of modern architecture, although his work was apparently mocked at the time by the press as an architect of ‘little people’s happiness’, which in retrospect seems an odd sort of insult.  He’s also one of those, like Poelzig or Mies, whose designs spanned the pre-modern to the modern; it often seems to be the case with figures such as these that their early work is left out of the historical account, as it doesn’t fit with the revolutionary narrative of modernism.

Not so here – the book is both a good introduction to Taut’s work, and a well-researched and thorough guide to all of his buildings in Berlin, from 1908 onwards, both destroyed and extant.  Each project is set out with example floor plans, contemporary and original images, site location plans and text.  But it’s the chronological ordering that’s so effective, as you can clearly see the development of Taut’s ideas from some relatively undistinguished buildings, through to the colourful large scale estates mentioned in the title.  This also gives the lie to the ‘hermetically sealed’ historical view of modernism; rather, the architecture develops gradually through what we know as ‘modernist’ design, and you have the feeling that creating a sleek white minimal look was in any case not Taut’s overriding aim.  In fact the colour schemes of some of the estates, generally recently restored to their former glory and reproduced in the book, could be described politely as ‘exuberant’.

There are some good essays on Taut’s membership of the Deutscher Werkbund (who are responsible for the publication of the book itself), his work with light and colour, and the preservation of his work in later years.  Incredibly, Taut built over 10,000 apartments in Berlin.  Of Berlin’s six housing estates recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status, four are by Taut; the book includes an essay on the status and preservation of Taut’s legacy.  Since you ask, the four estates are:

- Tuschkastensiedlung Falkenberg, 1913-16
- Wohnstadt Carl Legien in Prenzlauer Berg, 1928-30
- Hufeisensiedlung Britz, 1925-30 (the ‘Horseshoe’ estate)
- Siedlung Schillerpark im Wedding

What was also fascinating was to discover that two of Taut’s earliest buildings are in my immediate neighbourhood, both located on what I had considered to be the architecturally barren street of Kottbusser Damm, south of the canal.  Clearly I don’t look up enough when walking down the street (I generally watch the pavement in Neukoln/Kreuzberg, where dog owners take a laissez-faire attitude).

The first is no. 2-3, a block which remained a postwar ruin until the 1980s, until it was rebuilt, bizarrely, by Inken and Hinrich Baller, who are themselves no strangers to this blog.  Originally, the block included a cinema in the lower storeys.

It’s all Taut at the front:

but Baller at the back:

Just down the road is a quite different building, but also 1909.  What strikes you most is the Arts & Crafts styling, which was never completely lost to Taut in his later work:

The book is packed with the level of detail that I like.  I was interested to note that the Haus des Deutschen Verkehrsbundes (the state traffic office) on Engeldamm, originally had its limestone facing painted over in a dark colour, which seems a little contrary to logic, but does emphasize the importance of colour in Taut’s architecture:

(Image by Julien Valle, who has also photographed brother Max Taut’s building just south on Oranienplatz. In fact he’s photographed lots of things that I meant to get round to but haven’t – well worth a look. Anyway, back at the book review…)

In some ways the sub-title ‘Master of Colourful Architecture…’ is a little misleading (as well as being slightly clunky in english) despite the inclusion of an essay on the enormous importance of colour in Taut’s work.  I make this not really as a criticism though, because what comes through most from the book is Taut’s dedication to better living conditions for ordinary people, achieved through design, and the strong influence of the english Garden City movement; more Letchworth and lawns, than Mies and modernism.

Good old days?

2009.03.22

I’m possibly the last person to know about this (wouldn’t be the first time) but last year the Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive) put around 100,000 images onto Wikimedia commons, for us all to wonder at.  A link here into the page giving an overview by year (this was initially a bit tricky to find, I thought).

I’ve picked out a few images (below) which all feature architecture (since this is an architecture blog), but actually the buildings are perhaps the least fascinating element. So far I’ve only skimmed through 1919 to 1939, but the overriding impression of utter chaos, civil unrest and the rising tide of Fascism is disturbing, to say the least.

Photography is of course a self selective process, or at least used to be in pre-digital times, so is perhaps as much a record here of what was considered important then. Add to this the not inconsiderable factor of being filtered through the ‘random survival’ of time – war destruction, political repression, accidental loss.  I sometimes wonder whether in a few hundred years absolutely every digital image will survive (perhaps recorded on a small chip that can be fitted in your ear, say) or whether absolutely every digital image will be lost.  Or at least unreadable. Much like Betamax videos.

Mendelsohn’s Mossehaus, 1923:

The Schloss, 1919, I guess at the conclusion of the revolution:

Einsteinturm, 1928

The Europahaus, 1931:

Poelzig’s Babylon Kino, under construction, 1929:

Living with your car? Surely a bad idea…

Potsdamerplatz, 1932:

(A comment left by Tamar, which I’ve moved up here:

The Potsdamer Platz picture with the ads is very interesting:
“Vote Hitler” (on the two signs under “Chlorodont, White Teeth”) and all of that above a confectionery (Conditorei). This is the poster in the middle:
“Schluß jetzt, wir wählen Hitler!” (we had enough! we vote for Hitler)

Next to Hitler, “Vote for a Person, not for a Party”, and since everything is so symbolic in this picture, you can also see a sign for “vegetarische Kueche”

The same building, I would imagine few month before that, with film posters – link).

The Reichstag, before fire, bombing, abandonment, reconstruction, reuse, reunification, reconstruction (again), and the return of the parliament:

Mendelsohn’s Columbashaus, Potsdamerplatz, with campaign image of Hindenberg.  Later to be war damaged, then demolished:

Oberbaum Brucke, 1932 (blocked by the wall during the city’s partition, rebuilt in the 1990s by Santiago Calatrava)

The morning of the Reichstag fire:

Construction of the Reich Aviation Ministry (still standing, next door to the Topography of Terror site)

Enough already.  I could keep going for hours, but will stop here. Perhaps I’ll do a proper trawl through at some point (it’s only 100,000) and make sure I have the best ones…

Interesting Canal Stuff (and IBA Block 647, Part 2)

2009.02.19

I had planned to do a page on the IBA block as part of my ongoing accumulation of IBA buildings (find your niche and stick to it…) but actually the section of the Landwehrkanal which Block 647 faces on to is far too interesting to keep hidden away as a dull reference page.  In fact, the stretch of the canal from Potsdamer Brücke west to Lützowplatz is a virtual history of twentieth century modernism.

(I agree, before you point it out, that these are slightly arbitrary start and finishing points; interesting erections abound here in every direction, but you have to draw a line somewhere).

As a bonus, the marvellous M29 bus route, runs along the north bank going west, and the south bank going east.  (If I mention it often enough, perhaps I’ll get free bus travel?)

Going east along the canal from Lützowplatz, the first thing you see, on the opposite bank, is Walter Gropius’ Bauhaus Archiv:

(thanks to Umschauen for these)

Further along, you come to a little footbridge by Brenner & Tonon, built as part of the IBA:

Next, on the south side, are a row of four IBA townhouse blocks, built to be (at the time) cutting edge eco homes, including a small winter garden to each flat.

No. 2, by Schiedhelm, Klipper & Partner:

No 3, by Pysall, Jensen & Stahrenberg:

Then no.4, by the now mighty practice of von Gerkan, Marg & Partner (they did Berlin’s enormous new Hauptbahnhof)

And lastly no5, which I seem to have lost a main image of, so here’s the door:

It’s not all that, is it?  The door to no. 2 is more interesting, come to think of it:

Anyway, enough of that.  Next, across on the north bank, are the beautifully measured curves of Emil Fahrkamp’s Shell-Haus (now Gasag), 1930-31:

Then there’s James Stirling and Michael Wilford’s extension of the Wissenschafts Zentrum (Science Centre) – glimpses of which below.  This was also an IBA project, by the way.


The north bank then becomes the southern end of the Kulturforum, if that makes sense, with the familiar site of the Mies Neue Nationalgalerie (Umschauen again -  thanks!).

I think I’ve previously mentioned that opposite this, on the south side of the canal, is a rather fine 1929 building by Loeser & Wolff, with a quite cool Foster-ish two storey extension on top.  To quote me: “Its facade is finely proportioned and detailed (as architecture critics would say) and I like it very much.”

As part of the Kulturforum, on the north bank, is Hans Scharoun’s Staatsbibliothek (State Library) – still currently being bothered by much scaffold as well as huge temporary ductwork, so not what you’d call photogenic, but an absolute must to see inside:

(Another piece of thievery from Flickr, that one by jmtp)

And finally, because I promised myself I’d include them at some point, some more IBA blocks, which sit across on the other side of Potsdamer Strasse.  I’m used to IBA blocks looking fairly unspectacular from the street, but often the ‘private’ interior courtyards of the blocks reveal something really special.  Hence my disappointment here; I’m certain these buildings are not without merit, but they didn’t appeal to me on the day when I took these shots last summer. I remember being in a very good mood, and at that time obsessed with the idea of collecting every single IBA building, trainspotter-style.  The idea ended there, they were just that uninspiring. I gave up halfway through, bought a Cornetto, and sat in the canalside park (also an IBA creation).

Georg Heinrichs & Partner:

Corner block by Jürgen Sawade:

and Hilmer & Sattler’s block, with a bit of tree, facing onto the park:

No interior courtyard shots, because as I said, they just didn’t register as anything special.  In fact I’m struggling to think of more to say on them, so will leave it there.

But do take the time to head down to this part of town, using the M29 bus of course.  My free travel pass awaits.


Dies und Das

2009.02.14

Yesterday the sun came out in Berlin, and there was much confusion and fear, followed by rejoicing when people realised what it was.  I thought to myself: “If it’s sunny again tomorrow, I’ll set off and take pictures of some of the many things I want to blog about”.

Today is saturday.  It’s cold, grey and uninviting outside, much like the last three months or so in Berlin, as far as I can remember.  So I’ve decided to stay in the warm and do a blog about… well, not sure really. I’ve been looking through a backlog of things that I’ve photographed or read about but haven’t never got round to mentioning.  Here are a couple.

I thought I would do a sort of ‘bunker collection page’ at some point.  I’ve previously mentioned the Boros collection and the biggy on Pallasstrasse.  Here’s another one, on Schöneberger Strasse, built in 1943:

It currently houses a small exhibition about the bunker itself, and also the Gruselkabinett, a kind of grisly Madame Tussaud’s type affair, if you like that sort of thing. It was retained as part of IBA Block 14, which included the construction of a new school.

The building was next to the huge Anhalter station, heavily damaged in the war, with only a bit of the entrance remaining; it’s the thing you pass on the M29 bus:

Thanks to Burak Bilgin, who I’ve nicked the Flickr image from.  In fact, there’s a set of images on Flickr of Berlin 1959/1960, by Allhails, which includes a couple of the station before total demolition:

Which reminds me that I wanted to mention the M29 bus route, as a fine thing in itself.  I think of it as a sort of ‘IBA express’; it runs through much of Kreuzberg and right past many of the IBA buildings which I’ve blogged about, as well as loads more interesting things which I haven’t.  Might do a full guide at some point.

I also never got round to including some various blocks on my IBA list, mainly because they were just a bit disappointing, even though it was a lovely summer’s day (that’s how long I’ve put off writing anything about them).

See what I mean?  Even I have to admit that not every building constructed as part of the International Bauaustellung 1984/87 really gets me excited.  Actually, the building opposite the one above interested me much more; it’s on the corner of the river bank and Potsdamer Strasse, directly opposite the Neue Nationalgalerie:

It looks to my untrained eye like a 1920s modernist building with a quite cool Foster-ish two storey extension on top.  In fact, have just checked my guidebook, and this is true: 1929, by Loeser & Wolff, although I don’t know who did the new part. Its facade is finely proportioned and detailed (as architecture critics would say) and I like it very much.

Anyway, while I’ve been wittering away, the sun has come out, so am off out for a late breakfast.

Post blog note: yes I did know it was Valentine’s day.  Me and the missus went out that evening, since you ask.

No business like Schau-business.

2008.10.22

About a year ago I visited the city of Wroclaw in Poland, which as everyone knows (I didn’t) used to be called Breslau, and was the capital of the German province of Silesia*.

A friend took me to see the Jahrhunderthalle, a vast concrete framed auditorium opened in 1913, and now known as the Centennial Hall.

Kaiser Wilhelm II turned up to attend part of the celebrations there that year, but at the last moment refused to go in, partly because he didn’t like the ’socialist’ theme of the earlier opening event, but it was thought also because he didn’t like the unadorned ‘modern’ design, which failed to pay deference to the monarchy. Ring any bells, in relation to a current British Prince?

I knew nothing about it all this at the time, but cut to a year later, and I’m halfway through a rather excellent book called German Architecture for a Mass Audience. The author sets out an alternative view of the history of 20th century german architecture; looking at how key buildings were built for a new audience – ‘the masses’ – as opposed to a middle or upper class elite. Seen from this angle, a theme runs from early modernism and expressionism, through, gulp, the architecture of the Third Reich, and on through postwar modernism, taking in religious, commercial and secular public buildings along the way. In short, ithe book proposes that “…the founding moment of high modern German architecture cannot be detached from the mass culture in which it was a willing partipant.”

Anyway, two buildings discussed in detail are the Jahrhunderthalle, and Hans Poelzig’s Grosses Schauspielhaus in Berlin, the loss of which I’ve previously mourned.

On the face of it, the two buildings have nothing in common. The first, a vast exposed concrete arched structure celebrating the limits of engineering, by Max Berg, in Breslau.

The second, a highly decorated expressionist reworking of an existing building, heavily reliant on lighting to achieve its interior effect, built a few years later by Hans Poelzig, in Berlin.

However, Poelzig was responsible for designing every other aspect of the celebrations surrounding Berg’s hall, including buildings and landscaping, and had himself designed an early reinforced concrete building in Breslau two years previously, which still stands:

Also, Poelzig’s client for the Grosses Schauspielhaus was Max Reinhardt, a theatre impresario who had organised the Breslau pageant. It’s also worth remembering that a world war had occurred between the building of the two; by necessity, the Schauspielhaus had to rely on the use of plaster decoration and clever use of light.

Most annoyingly, at the time I visited I knew nothing of either the Wroclaw Poelzig building, or that a rare surviving department store by Erich Mendelsohn also survives there, adding another Berlin/Wroclaw connection.

By the way, I’m indebted for the above image and for the interior shot of the Jahrhunderthaalle to wouterschenk on Flickr.

*Footnote

I’m well aware of the sensitivity of throwing around phrases like ‘used to be in Germany’ in this complex historical context. To be more accurate, it was a part of the Germanic state of Prussia, a fuller explanation available here, or better still, consult a professional historian.

The Britz 'Horseshoe' Estate, Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner

2008.10.11

Another sunny day, and a trip to one of city’s Pioneering Modernist Works. I phrase it like this, because I have a list of all the buildings and places I should see, but don’t often make the effort, because I come across so many other interesting things just wandering randomly through odd parts of the city.

Anyway, the Britz estate was built to designs by Bruno Taut (with a block by Martin Wagner), between 1925 and 1933, and is known as ‘the horseshoe estate’ (Hufeisensiedlung) due to the horseshoe-shaped design of the central block. A good summary on the Berlin.de page here, and a page from the always-handy Housing Prototypes here.

I took quite a few images, all in a Flickr set here.

Like much early modernist design, you’re struck by how, well, very modern the buildings seem, I guess in part because of so much later modernist pastiche. But what surprised me was that actually much of the architecture, interesting though it is, is of secondary importance to the kind of place the Britz estate is. The overall impression I got was a much stronger connection with the English Arts & Crafts and Garden City movements than with pioneering German modernism, despite how much we’re taught about the links between the two.

Much as I knew I should be looking at this sort of thing

…I was equally fascinated by this other sort of thing:

- by the slightly mysterious maze of pathways between the private gardens. Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia; I can imagine what it must be like to play here as a kid (unlike the UK, children are still allowed out in Germany, without the security of a Humvee or other military vehicle).

Having said that, I didn’t really see anyone much that friday morning, child or adult.

Although the architectural style on the Horseshoe estate side was markedly different from those across the street, the mood seemed quite the same. Peaceful, quiet, neatly trimmed gardens; an old fashioned, well established working class neighbourhood.

One side:

and the other:

Having read what a shame it was that many of the building’s original detailing had been lost, I couldn’t find any evidence. There seemed to be quite strong enforcement of window replacement etc, including colours, which in the case of the windows are clearly important on some of the low rise block designs, where all frames have identical De Stijl-like designs.

These particular houses are arranged in terraces with access via their southern orientated gardens. You can therefore walk along pathways giving access to the gardens/houses on one side, and look into the gloomier rear of the houses in the next row. I noticed several were empty or being refurbished; in the end property, recently redone, were clear signs of a middle class design-aware type moving in, their attempt to use period furniture strangely incongrous (a good commentary on that sort of thing here, by the by).

An almost rural feel within the horseshoe itself, designed around a pre-existing pond, apparently. I stood and watched as a lone heron took off from the water and settled in a nearby tree.

The main entrance route to the horseshoe, which has the feel of an abandoned Olympic stadium structure:

And what I’m guessing is the row of Martin Wagner-designed houses:

Anyway, tempting as it is to witter on like someone showing you their holiday slides, I’ve put the rest here.

Post-blog note:

Of course, this is an rather superficial commentary, based entirely on my personal response to the place. If this was a proper blog, I would have explained the background; that to understand the ideas behind the estate, you have to understand that its first residents would have largely moved from utterly squalid, overcrowded conditions, have fought through a disastrous war, crippling inflation and economic collapse, and that such a place could have seemed like heaven on earth in a place a unstable as Weimar Germany. I also make no comment on the appeal of the emerging ideas of modernism and how well they fitted with the need for cheap construction by local housing authorities, or attempt to reconcile Bruno Taut’s outlandish theorising at the time with the calmness and practicality of his housing designs.

Which all goes to show that if you really want to know about something, best to get hold of a good book about it.

An interesting article here about the protection of Berlin’s modernist estates, by the way.