The Hellerhof housing estate in the west of Frankfurt was designed by the Dutch architect Mart Stam (1899-1986) and built in three phases between 1929 and 1932. During this period, almost 1,200 rental apartments were built in two-to-four-storey apartment buildings. All apartments had a bathroom, a fitted kitchen (modeled on the Frankfurt kitchen, but on an even smaller floor area) and central heating. The developer of the settlement was the Hellerhof corporation, and the construction work was carried out by the Philipp Holzmann company. One part of the houses was built in brick, the other part in the "Frankfurt assembly process" (“Frankfurter Montageverfahren”) developed by Ernst May in 1926, in which the individual buildings were assembled from prefabricated pumice concrete slabs.
The settlement was destroyed in World War II, especially in the northern part, and badly damaged in other areas. The blocks north of Idsteiner Strasse are new builds from 1951, but in the style of the row houses designed by Mart Stam on this site. However, a lack of building maintenance in the post-war decades caused further damage to the settlement: in the early 1970s, many parts of it were in such a disastrous condition that Hellerhof AG advocated demolition of the end buildings on Frankenallee. After strong protests on the part of monument preservation and from professional circles, "only" the arcaded houses at Frankenallee 202-218 were finally demolished in 1976. They were replaced by new buildings which, although they take up the basic forms of their predecessors, are nevertheless clearly different from the historic building fabric. At the same time, in the 1970s, a number of conversion measures took place in the Hellerhof settlement, since the very small apartments could no longer meet the living needs of the tenants at the time. In the course of the renovation, the small 3-room apartments were converted into 2-room apartments. The settlement has been a listed building since 1975.
The evangelical church, located on the eastern edge of the settlement, goes back to a design by Karl Blattner from 1925. Hardly anything remains of the original interior after the building was almost completely destroyed in March 1944. The current church is a reconstruction that was only completed in 1953.
Mart Stam's architecture is characterized by cubic forms, which are loosened up primarily by the staggered rows of windows. Balconies and, in the case of the ground-level apartments, terraces were created to extend the tightly dimensioned living space, which were intended for after-work hours. The smallest apartments in the Hellerhof settlement were only 33 square meters; their designs are a reaction to the massively pressing housing shortage of the years and at the same time an implementation of the demands for a "housing for the subsistence level" (Wohnung für das Existenzminimum).
Under this motto, the second international CIAM congress took place in Frankfurt in October 1929, which Mart Stam, in addition to Ernst May, Ferdinand Kramer and Joseph Gantner, had been instrumental in organizing. There is another principle that determines the overall layout of the Hellerhof settlement: the search for a construction method that allows the individual apartments to be optimally exposed to the sun. As an answer, Mart Stam chose a perimeter block development, with most of the streets running in a north-south direction. The entrances, the balconies or loggias and the living rooms are on the west side of the rows of houses, i.e. towards the evening sun, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are on the east side. The division into living and sleeping areas is also reflected in the facade design: while the west facades are interrupted by balconies and large window areas, the high, horizontally aligned, narrow window strips on the east side only allow little light into the rooms, but create a wall area , which is helpful for interior decoration.