This world heritage property consists of 6 social housing estates, all located in and around Berlin, built between 1910 and 1933. This was a period of social, cultural and political innovation and development (esp. the Weimar Republic). In this time, housing and living conditions for people with low incomes were greatly improved through a form of urban development implementing new approaches on architecture, planning and design (for buildings and their gardens). The housing estates are examples of garden towns, based on the concept of open housing. This concept tried to counteract the effect of proletarian mass housing and to recreate the people’s link with houses and nature. Four of the estates, located in West Berlin after WWII (Britz, Schillerpark, Weisse Stadt and Siemensstadt) have been modernised, whereas those in East Berlin haven’t (Gartenstadt Falkenberg and Wohnstadt Carl Legien).
We visited Wohnstadt Carl Legien the day we left Berlin. This was really a typical case of “ticking off” an extra UNESCO site. It didn’t really appeal to us before we saw it, and that feeling didn’t change… It also isn’t impressive, beautiful or exceptional in any way, except maybe for its historical relevance. It’s a residential area with a number of uniform, U-shaped building blocks, with a central garden area.
The only upside of this visit was the beautiful snow carpet, providing the perfect occasion to take out the sled we brought with us. Febe loved that!
Finding this housing estate wasn’t easy. We knew it was situated in the Erich-Weinert-Strasse, close to Prenzlauerberg. So we drove up to that street, but couldn’t really find any sign saying “Wohnstadt Carl Legien”. So we parked and asked a few locals, but they had never heard of it! Even in the local bakery they didn’t know what I was talking about. Only slightly disappointed we set of to Potsdam, our next stop on the way home. After a kilometer or so, Annick suddenly saw a sign “Wohnstadt Carl Legien”. So we turned around and followed the sign. Eventually, it turned out that the Wohnstadt was in Erich-Weinert-Strasse, but on the other side of a road that separates it into two parts.
Obviously, this is only one in a number of 6 estates, but I’m pretty sure its historical importance outweighs its aesthetical appeal.
Berlin Modernism Housing Estates (nr. 1239)