The Flusspferdhof Residential Development, Große-Leege-Straße 60-82, Hohenschönhausen;
1932-34 by Mebes & Emmerich
The fountain with horse figures in the central interior courtyard inspired the name of the Flusspferdhof, a product of typical Berlin humor: "Flusspferdhof" translates to "hippopotamus square"; the German word for "hippopotamus" is a compound of "river" and "horse". The settlement was part of the Weimar Republic's housing reform, a progressive architectural response to the back courtyards of the imperial period, which were characterized by social and hygienic problems and an awkward combination of residences and industry. The experienced residential architects Paul Mebes and Paul Emmerich employed the concept of a Wohnhof, or "residential courtyard" to raise the quality of life in a settlement built chiefly with an emphasis to satisfying economic and hygienic criteria without excessive costs. Despite the Spartan impression created by the severe lines of the residential blocks, the apartments inside are bright and well-ventilated. In the central area, staggered gables line the square, which offers residents and, more importantly, their children, a sheltered, green oasis from the noise of the big city. The fountain with its ensemble of statues on the landscaped lawn lends the settlement its individual character and its residents a striking location. From 1995-1997, the apartments were modernized and exterior facilities restored, including the original fountain sculpture, most of which was preserved in original condition.