The houses for two brothers was a project designed by John Hejduk and was completed by the end of 1987. The project was a part of the IBA Berlin 1987
IBA and Tegel
The north Berlin district of Tegel was founded 600 years ago and gained rapid development in the industrial revolution. Surrounded by a lake, forest and castle Tegel played an important role as a local recreational area. Tegel was well connected to the city with public transport, the city motorway, buses and also by boat. Though the area suffered heavily during de-industrialization. The Tegel port had collapsed, the water of the Tegeler See (Tegel lake) was dirty and contaminated and the recreational purpose and qualities of the area were depleting.
The goal of IBA in Tegel was focused more on its cultural and recreational value than a purely commercial use. Revitalization of the Tegel harbor basin was an important focus. The winning entry of the 1980 IBA competition “Tegel” was a close to nature, waterfront urban plan for a long, curved row of houses and a chain of single houses called “city villas”. The plan by St. Monica, USA based architecture firm Moor / Ruble / Yudell combined meandering green spaces, individual or paired living units and an access to the promenade at the harbor basin. A picturesque cultural and leisure facility on the shore.
IBA and John Hejduk
John Hejduk's involvement with IBA can be traced back to his remarkable 1980 Berlin Masque entry for the “Wilhelmstrasse” IBA competition. Hejduk placed 28 small structures called "masks" between the block fragments of the destroyed city district. Hejduk’s entry won him a special prize of three building sites of the international building exhibition. One of which was the small project for Tegel. In collaboration with architect Moritz Müller, by the end of 1987 John Hejduk's apartment houses became a part of the "urban villas" in the Tegel ensemble.
Houses for two brothers
Hejduk's two, two-story houses share a shear wall integral to the structure of their dwellings. The dwellings are not identical but share familiar features. The semi detached houses take up the planning requirement of a 16 by 16 meter cube. Two staircases on the North and South facade of the houses divide the overall plot into two rectangular plots, each with its own steep gable roof. In this way a total of eight apartments are achieved. The light gray plaster facade with green-painted, square windows have balconies on the east and west sides. The roof is covered with zinc sheets and has widely spaced square funnel-like protrusions for the natural light and ventilation of the top floors. The roof edges are also lined with metal thorns and stars. Another striking element is the Spiral staircase which runs in the centre of the plot and ends up in a green lookout tower.
Hejduk’s unusual house with its usual symmetric and axial order situates the "German idyllic home on the lake side" to the harsh reality of a divided Germany, the wall, security measures, surveillance towers - and perhaps also of cannon barrels and protruding thorns. Connected at the bottom, separated on the top, the houses share a similar uninterrupted view of the horizon.