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Praunheim Estate

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
1 of 16

The approximately 1.5 km long settlement of Praunheim lies west of the old town of Praunheim and north-west of the Nidda arc. The terrain on which the western part of the settlement was built is flat, while that of the eastern part slopes gently towards the Nidda valley. Praunheim is one of the "suburban satellites" (Ferdinand and Lore Kramer, in: Bauwelt 28/1986, p. 1055), which was built as part of the city expansion under the planning of Ernst May at the end of the 1920s. In order to be able to carry out the expansion according to the planned plans, the largest part of the settlement area was expropriated on the basis of the Prussian elimination ordinance. The new houses of the first two construction phases were sold by the city of Frankfurt to allow the residents to become the owners of the houses. For this they had to pay monthly interest and repayment contributions.

Construction Phases

1st CP: Praunheim is the first planned large settlement of the new Frankfurt. A total of 173 apartments were built in the 1st construction phase (01/06/1926 – 01/01/1927), which started west of the old village and east of the old Praunheim estate. Ten of them are experimental buildings in the new prefabricated construction method, for which the city of Frankfurt (Ernst May) was the licensee and patent applicant. The other houses were built in brick construction. May’s prefabricated construction method provided for the load-bearing walls to be subdivided into a 1.10 m. high parapet layer, a window layer of the same height and a 40 cm high lintel layer. The 40 cm thick slabs of pumice concrete were cast in wooden molds in Frankfurt's slab factories, transported to the construction site by truck and assembled there with the help of construction cranes. Steel clamps held the pumice-mixed panels in place. The joints were poured. In total, the assembly of a house with 18 workers took one and a half days. By comparing the two construction methods, the Reich Research Society determined that the construction time and maintenance costs would be reduced. The alignment of the rows of houses in this construction phase is still very free and based on the topography. Mainly three-storey single-family terraced houses with a roof garden were built, which were lined up in pairs.The 2nd phase of construction (07/01/1927 – 04/01/1928) is divided into two areas, one to the west and one to the east of the 1st CP. The rows of houses are oriented east-west along the Nidda. By dividing the otherwise closed rows into several short blocks on the eastern edge of the eastern section, the town planners created a connection to the old town of Praunheim. The multi-family houses along Ludwig-Landmann-Strasse and Am Ebelfeld have three or four floors and thus frame the two-storey single-family houses in between. A total of 123 of the single-family houses along the Damaschkeanger received a granny flat with a roof garden on the second floor. Instead of a structural closure of the settlement in the south, allotment gardens were built at this point.3rd CP (08/01/1928 – 01/01/1930): Due to the difficult economic situation, the apartments of the 3rd BA were made smaller and their standards lowered, which is why the single-family houses no longer had their own laundry room and, like the apartment buildings, were connected to the central laundry. A total of 699 apartments were built west of Ludwig-Landmann-Strasse. The raised edge development to shield the noise of the main street from the lower single-family houses behind it was followed in this section with the three-storey arcaded houses with small apartments along the Ludwig-Landmann-Straße. Rental apartments divided into small groups are located on Heerstrasse. Like the buildings in the first and second construction phase, these are oriented along the east-west axis, while the single-family houses in the inner area of the third construction phase are aligned north-south in double rows. As a counterpart to the old estate, the houses frame an open space with a playground.

Buildings & Plan Scheme

In the late 1920s, apartments were mass-produced cheaply for the first time to meet the high demand. Serial production for an anonymous market presupposed that the consumers, i.e. the future residents, were divided into different life models in order to be able to satisfy their individual needs. The architects designed appropriate apartments for each type of consumer. Each type of apartment was repeated several times in a row, creating the calm overall picture of a street that Ernst May favored, in which the individual apartments took a back seat in favor of the overall impression. In the Praunheim settlement, the single-family terraced house considered by Ernst May to be the ideal form of living for families was realized. The design of the individual houses was subject to the principle of practicality and the implementation of certain standards, which included a bathroom and the "Frankfurt kitchen" by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. The single-family houses had a garden, which was designed by Leberecht Migge. The gardens, which were used to provide the families with fruit and vegetables and for recreation, are located between the rows of houses and are also accessible via footpaths. "Apartments for the subsistence level", which were mainly inhabited by workers, were mainly in three- or four-story houses with balconies along Ludwig-Landmann Strasse. While all houses with access balconies were provided with central heating and hot water supply, this was only the case for some of the single-family houses. In order to loosen up the floor plan of a tiny apartment, Anton Bernner designed apartments with different ceiling heights (Am Ebelfeld 263-277). To do this, he arranged the flats one on top of the other in a staggered manner, creating a honeycomb-like pattern in cross-section. Like all apartment types, even the smallest had access to the outside with a balcony.

Later Alterations

Today the overall picture of the Praunheim settlement is very heterogeneous, which is due to the fact that the owners of the single-family houses redesigned them and moved windows over the years, Canopies added and facades painted brightly. Nothing of the original, well thought-out color scheme can be seen today. The color concept for the Praunheim settlement was developed by Walter Leistikow and envisaged lime sludge, coloured, mineral plaster and mineral paints. The house walls facing the Nidda Valley were white, while the walls facing the inner settlement area and the residential streets were painted red and blue. In order to structure the unornamented facades, windows, doors and downpipes were painted white before colored plaster and, conversely, these elements were colored red or blue before white plaster. Only the houses with arcades on Ludwig-Landmann-Strasse (formerly: Hindenburgallee) give an impression of the earlier colorfulness. Here the stairwells, which, along with balconies and ribbon windows, are among the most important design elements of the architectural style, are color accentuated and painted a rich red. The walls, which recede somewhat behind the railings painted dark brown, are painted in light ocher.

In addition to the residential buildings, the Praunheim settlement was equipped with a few shops, the "Neuer Adler" restaurant by the architect Eugen Kaufmann and a central laundry. A planned community center was not realized, nor was a kindergarten. Due to the ownership situation and the pleasant living situation due to the almost unchanged urban location, fluctuation in Praunheim is very low. Today the arcaded houses on Ludwig-Landmann-Strasse and some houses on Ebelfeld are under monument protection. Praunheim is one of the settlements of the new Frankfurt whose external appearance has changed the most.

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henrygibson, August 2nd, 2023
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