Berlin Housing Estates of the 1920s - on the UNESCO World Heritage List
The World Heritage Committee, meeting for its 32nd session on 8 July 2008 in Quebec, Canada, added the six Berlin Modernism Housing Estates as new sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The proposal for nomination had been put forward by Senator Ingeborg Junge-Reyer in 2006, corresponding to the UNESCO strategy to increasingly protect sites of the Modernism as World Heritage. The housing estates stand out internationally not only because of their great importance, but also their good state of preservation.
The six housing estates were built between 1913 and 1934. Architects of the Classical Modernism responded to the lack of housing after World War I at the highest architectural level: modern, affordable flats with kitchens, bathrooms and balconies, in houses without backyards or side wings, instead providing light, air and sun. The high-quality architecture, the language of the shapes, floor plans of the flats and urbanistic design of the estates became a role model for the entire 20th century.
Planning and construction of the housing estates marked a structural change in housing, which was only possible in this way because of the special political and social conditions during the years following World War I. As a counter-model for private-sector speculative building and its tenements, they were to represent a new architecture for a new society.
Aesthetic perceptions of the avantgarde of arts and architecture were, therefore, linked with political left-wing social concepts. Trade unions, cooperative and municipal building companies became the main supporters of this constructed utopia.
Today, a second change is taking shape. The public sector has been withdrawing from housing construction and sold flats to private tenants and investors. Once again, housing estates are becoming a model demonstrating how the maintenance of these emblematic historical buildings may be reconciled with the contemporary requirements for fittings and convenience.
Landschaftsarchitektin Katrin Lesser, Berlin; Landesarchiv Berlin; Partner für Berlin / FTB-Werbefotografie; Senate Department for Urban Development Berlin, Berlin Monument Authority; Tobias Nöfer Architekten; Winfried Brenne Architekten
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