The Roman town is part of the development of the northern slope of the Nidda valley. It stretches 1.5 km parallel to the river from Praunheim to Heddernheim on the site of the Roman settlement of Nida. The rows of houses are arranged in terraces and are surrounded by a bastion-like wall on the river side over the entire length of the settlement, which offers a view of the valley. Allotment gardens stretch along the retaining wall. The houses are mostly single-family houses, in some cases also two-family houses with a separate entrance for each apartment. Both the single-family houses and the multi-storey buildings were assigned gardens directly at the house, low hedges separated the plots from each other, the number of beds, shrubs and the vegetation were determined. Those living in multi-storey terraced houses on the broader streets had the option of leasing a garden by the retaining wall. The necessary shops to supply the settlement were located in the center (west-east) on Hadrian Street.
Buildings & Plan Scheme
Seen from the Niddawiesen, the terraced construction of the Römerstadt Settlement with its bastions and the white plaster that can be seen from a distance is reminiscent of medieval relics in northern Italy, for example, when you come closer it becomes the satellite town of the 20th century. This was with In der Römerstadt Road as the northern tangent and at the same time as the entrance to the settlement at the time of construction on the extreme northern outskirts of the city. Hadrianstrasse, which branches off southwards at the cemetery, divides the settlement as an S-shaped north-south connection into a western part with parallel straight streets and an eastern part with curved streets. The curved, storey building block on the west side, with its semicircular closure on both sides, was given a special design reminiscent of a ship. The rest of the development was a harmonious mix of 2-storey single and 3- and 4-storey apartment buildings, the latter particularly on the western boundary and on Hadrian Street. Mainly apartments with 4 rooms were built, in the storey buildings also those with 2 or 3 rooms. All apartments were equipped with a kitchen and bathroom, central heating, hot water supply and radio connection. They were (for the first time in Germany) fully electrified using cheap off-peak electricity. The secret of the rapid realization of May's projects was the transition from individual house construction to mass production on the basis of standardized type floor plans. The size of the family, the age of the children and the fact that several generations lived together were decisive for the typologies. Basic principles are: housekeeping with minimal effort and distance (Frankfurt kitchen), optimal lighting conditions, living room as the main lounge, sufficient number of rooms to separate parents and older children, equipment with appropriate basement room, toilet, shower and/or bath. Individual modifications were not planned. Only the storey front buildings in front of the single-family rows were given their own character in terms of window arrangement and stairwell, similar to the east side of Hadrian Street (stairwells, roof terraces, balconies facing the garden). Centrally located here, open to the south, is the former elementary school (architect: Martin Elsaesser), now the Geschwister-Scholl-School (secondary school). The church planned by May as the northern crowning of the heights was not realised.
The entire settlement was built in brick construction, the flat roofs in wooden construction. The colors of the houses obeyed the principle: white appearing from a distance, in the inner areas of the settlement: colored (from yellowish-white to red or reddish brown), woodwork: blue. The interior design of Römerstadt during the economic crisis (1929) forced the standardization and simplification of components and furnishings. The production of furniture was necessary because there was no room for conventional sets in the reduced floor plans. The furniture program designed by Franz Schuster and Ferdinand Kramer was extremely simple. The associated Frankfurt kitchen by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky has been ergonomically optimized according to the principle of the Mitropa dining car with the aim of minimal idling to around 7 m2 "as a hub for the most economical movements".
According to Ernst May's and Leberecht Migge's ideas, the green areas in New Frankfurt should serve not only aesthetic aspects but also relaxation and the supply of vegetables and fruit by the residents. The originality of the garden design in Römerstadt lies in the fact that the streets are asymmetrically flanked by grassy front gardens on one side, while the other side is shielded from the street near the house by a high wall. On the southern side of the respective northern rows of houses, the deep front gardens ensure more favorable sunlight for the living spaces facing the street. Terraced lawns, divided by entrance paths with low hedges facing the street and flower borders in front of the houses shape the streetscape. The greenery of the facades with climbing plants was left to the tenants. The fact that the rear gardens that are oriented towards each other, are separated by a narrow path that can only be accessed by pedestrians, creates a children's paradise between the parallel rows of houses without any traffic. The garden areas of the multi-storey houses along the streets in Römerstadt and Hadrianstraße are freely available to the respective households. To the south-east, towards the lowlands, the gardens are surrounded by a pedestrian path which (along a high supporting wall with tree-lined squares protruding like bastions) opens up the view towards Praunheim, Ginnheim and Eschersheim. Below the enclosure of the retaining wall are leased allotment gardens and meadows with public children's playgrounds.
Ernst May House
The Ernst May Society, founded in 2003 by architects and art historians states as a goal: "...the promotion of architecture, art and culture... in particular through the establishment and sponsorship of a model house with permanent and temporary exhibitions in a house in the Römerstadt settlement, which represents the ideas and works of the urban planner and architect Ernst May in a tangible way.”
After a long search, the lease for the single-family terraced house at Im Burgfeld 136 was signed with ABG Frankfurt Holding mbH in March 2005. The house was restored on a scientific basis as a monument and furnished largely true to the original. In October 2009, the work on the exterior was also completed.
The ernst-may-haus can be visited during the available times. Due to the close proximity to the property, the original furnishings allow direct insights into the style of the ‘New Objectivity’, not least due to the well-preserved, well-known Frankfurt kitchen. The visit also includes the may garden, which was designed in accordance with the concept of the landscape architect Leberecht Migge.