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Höhenblick Estate

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Blockbebauung Engelsplatz Gartenseite_2006.png
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The settlement is located above the southern bank of the Nidd River on the Ginnheim slope and represents the first construction phase of the Nidda valley development planned by Ernst May. The three-storey rows of terraced houses along the crossing Höhenblick and Fuchshohl streets are the only buildings on the planned Ginnheim slope development that have been realised. With a total of only around 100 residential units, it is the smallest unit within the Niddatal project, which includes the much larger settlements of Römerstadt, Praunheim and Westhausen. Due to its attractive location with a view over the Nidda valley to the Taunus heights as well as the apartment sizes (up to 125 square metres) and the upscale furnishings of the houses, it occupies a special position within the settlements of New Frankfurt. From the beginning, the exclusive residential area was reserved for the middle class and an intellectual elite. The architects Carl Hermann Rudloff and Max Cetto as well as the graphic artist Hans Leistikow, the painter Willi Baumeister and other Frankfurt artists lived in the vicinity of Ernst May and Martin Elsaesser, who built their villas here.

Plan Scheme & Construction

Coming from the city centre, one enters the residential complex from Kurhessenstraße through a 'portal' of two tower-like, four-story corner buildings with narrow ribbon windows and shops on the ground floor. This metropolitan gesture contrasts with the adjoining lower terraced houses with gardens and the opening of the settlement to the landscape park of the Nidda Valley. The houses are built in conventional brick construction and were all equipped with coke central heating and a Frankfurt kitchen. Framed by square rain gutters and downpipes and centrally arranged, T-shaped exposed concrete canopies, two house units each form a visual unit. On the street side, the semi-detached houses have three floors, with the top floor having an open terrace at the back. The facades of the terraced houses were plastered white, the windows and entrance areas were painted dark blue. The corner buildings were additionally emphasised by using a darker colour tone.

Residential building Ernst May (1925), Ludwig-Tieck-Strasse 11

Immediately after Ernst May was appointed City Planning Officer of Frankfurt, while still in Breslau, he began planning his own residential building in the Eschersheim district on the edge of the Höhenblick housing estate. The first surviving draft, dated June 25 1925, shows a representative villa with a symmetrically arranged studio space extending over two floors and a 'fake' flat roof. May fundamentally revised the original draft and the existing house at Ludwig-Tieck-Strasse 11 (formerly: Am Schwalbenschwanz), realised in the same year. With its two nested cubes and the roof garden, while at the same time renouncing any symmetry and representative decorative forms, it is much more avant-garde than the original design and a typical representative of the New Objectivity. The simple façade is broken up by a huge corner window on the south-west side of the garden, behind which lies the two-story living room. The lower part of the window could be lowered, increasing the connection to nature and revealing the view of the Nidda Valley and the Taunus. Stairs lead from the living room to the gallery where Ilse May's loom was placed and from which a narrow balcony leads to the large roof terrace. Adjacent to the spacious living room is a relatively small dining room, followed by a 'Frankfurt kitchen'. The kitchen was equipped with a hatch and state-of-the-art electrical appliances that were supposed to make the housewife's work easier. May designed the approximately 1250 square metre open space according to the criteria of the garden reform movement in the style of Leberecht Migge. It is divided into a kitchen garden with terraced vegetable beds and a relaxation area with an extensive lawn, a ball court and a small water basin. Fruit and nut trees as well as ornamental shrubs, perennial beds and rose beds complete the picture of this clearly structured reform garden. Mohr & Müller (“Functionality and Modernity”, p. 282) rightly describe the May residential building as the “master house of the new Frankfurt”.

Residential building Martin Elsaesser (1925), Im Höhenblick 37

Martin Elsaesser built his house almost at the same time as Ernst May, at the beginning of his work as head of the building construction office. At the north-west end of the street Im Höhenblick, it formed the end of the development towards the Niddatal, but due to its expressionistic design language and materiality it was not a unit with the settlement. In contrast to the May residential building, Elsaesser's design does not submit to the puristic material and design vocabulary of New Frankfurt . With its clinker facade, the villa is more like the residential buildings that Elsaesser had already designed for private clients. With a representative entrance area, hallway and music room, the floor plan corresponds to the living and living needs of an upper-class family. The sheltered courtyard, the terrace and the park-like garden designed by Leberecht Migge are oriented towards the Niddatal. However, the combination of open space and living space desired by Elsaesser is not achieved, at least visually, due to the closedness and solidity of the building and the small-scale lattice windows. Overall, the building, with its fortress-like reinforced corners, looks rather forbidding. On the other hand, it surprises on the inside with the choice of light colors and harmonious material compositions. The villa, in which the Swiss Consul General resides today, was restored in an exemplary manner in 2002.

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