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Der Ring

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April 7th 1876, Rostock, Germany

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Berlin, Germany

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Carlo Jelkmann

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"The simplest form is not always the best, but the best is always simple."
Heinrich Tessenow

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Article last edited by archibald on
February 25th, 2011

Heinrich Tessenow Change this

Change thisBerlin, Germany
born 1876, Rostock
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Heinrich Tessenow (April 7th, 1876 - November 1st, 1950) was a German architect, professor, and urban planner active in the Weimar era. He was born in Rostock, Mecklenburg-Schwerin. His father was a carpenter, and he studied as an apprentice before studying architecture in a building trade school in Leipzig and at the Technical University of Munich, where he later taught.

Tessenow and fellow architects Hermann Muthesius and Richard Riemerschmid are credited with the 1908 Gartenstadt Hellerau, near Dresden, a housing project that was the first tangible result of the influence of the English garden city movement in Germany. This particular strain of humane, functionalist urban planning would eventually lead to the extensive German housing projects of Ernst May and Bruno Taut in the 1920s, May's plans for Magnitogorsk and other Russian cities, and then widespread influence through Tessenow's student Otto Koeningsberger, an urban planner who worked in Asia, Latin America, Africa and particularly India, for instance the 1948 plan for the Indian city of Bhubaneswar.

During the Weimar Republic, Tessenow became a member of Deutscher Werkbund, he received a laurea honoris causa by the University of Rostock and by the Technische Hochschule of Stoccarda.

Tessenow taught at the Institute of Technology in Berlin-Charlottenburg from 1926 until 1934 when he was made redundant by the Nazis. Curiously Tessenow is also known through the architect of the Third Reich Albert Speer. Tessenow taught Speer in 1925 (after Speer had been rejected from Hans Poelzig's class for bad drawing technique). speer became Tessenow's assistant in 1927 at the very early age of 23. Speer's memoirs describe Tessenow's personal, discursive, informal teaching style, and his preference for architecture that expressed national culture and simplified forms. He was known for the saying, "The simplest form is not always the best, but the best is always simple."

Until the end of WWII he lived retired in his country house spending most of his time to study the reconstruction of urban centres in Pomerania and Mecklenburg regions. After the war he was asked to teach at the University of Berlin by the soviet administration and was named Emeritus Professor of the same Institute.

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