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Schillerpark Housing Estate

Berlin, Germany
Settlement at the Schiller Park.jpg
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depicted item: Settlement at the Schiller ParkImage credit: © Wolfgang Bittner, LDA Berlin. URL: https://denkmaltag.berlin.de/denkmal/?id=5115

The Schillerpark settlement is a housing estate located in the sub-district of Wedding, which is part of the district of Mitte (centre) in the North of Berlin. The settlement was built between 1924 and 1930 according to plans by the architect Bruno Taut and Franz Hoffmann for “Berliner Spar- und Bauverein” (Berlin savings and building association). The Schillerpark estate is known to be Bruno Taut's first urban housing project in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. The settlement was named after the large Schillerpark which is located at its south-western border formed by Bristolstraße.

The Schillerpark housing estate area which is divided into three parts by Windsorer and Oxforder Straße is surrounded by Bristolstraße, Dubliner Straße, Corker Straße, and Barfusstraße. The housing estate was completed in three construction phases between 1924 and 1930, and a total of 303 apartments were built. The first construction phase corresponds to the period from 1924 to 1925. The second phase, completed in 1928, was built around the two rectangular blocks between Dubliner Straße and Oxforder Straße, and the inner courtyards were laid out with vegetation. The third construction phase built in 1929-30 on a larger site east of Oxforder Straße differentiates from Bruno Taut's designs by means of layout planning and sub-divisions. After 1945, the settlement was rebuilt in parts by Max Taut, and further expanded in 1954-59 by the designs of Hans Hoffmann, who added the northern section and supplemented the eastern section with, among other things, elongated blocks.

The two blocks between Dubliner and Oxforder Straße which belong to the first two development phases erected between 1924 and 1928 represent the novel urban development and residential concept most clearly. Bruno Taut placed three-storey blocks with East-West and North-South orientations which were grouped around a quiet courtyard in an open block perimeter development. The staircases located respectively on the north and east sides, enable entrances to be accessible from both sides-some from the street and others from the garden courtyard. This design decision also necessitates the large garden courtyards to be publicly accessible as well. For this purpose, passages have been provided at the outer ends of the building rows, and are bordered by clinker bricks and can be closed with iron-barred gates. Even when the gates are open the ensembles give an impression of spatial and social self-containedness in the sense of a cooperative housing estate community.

In terms of planning and choice of materials, the influence of the Amsterdam School and the works by the Dutch architect JJP Oud on the architectural approach of Bruno Taut in the Schillerpark housing estate is quite apparent. / The architectural approach of Bruno Taut in the Schillerpark housing estate is apparently influenced by the Amsterdam School and the works by the Dutch architect JJP Oud in terms of planning and choice of materials.The room layouts and the red brick exterior façades are reminiscent of the Amsterdam School’s architectural style.Instead of traditional gable roofs, Taut opted for mono-pitched roofs, which was very unusual back then.

The design of the estate, with its strongly sub-divided brick facades, reflects the influence of the Amsterdam School on the architecture of Bruno Taut: The facade in Bristolstraße, which is often shown in illustrations, is more expressive and more detailed in its architecture than Taut's later designs. In the Schillerpark Estate, dwellings were planned for different income groups with the same standard of fittings but different sizes, with separate bathrooms and kitchens and spacious loggias and balconies facing the sun. Like in all residential estates designed by Taut, the public and semi-public areas are an integral part of an all-round social spatial concept. Courtyards and other enclosed areas of greenery not only serve to foster the identification of cooperative residents with their estate. They are also a fundamental element of the outdoor living space defined by Taut.


Social:The “Berliner Spar- und Bauverein” (Berlin Saving and Building Association) together with its architect Bruno Taut played a pioneering role in housing reform. The construction project on the site in Wedding was the first modern urban residential estate to be built under the conditions of Berlin's new building regulations and the house interest tax subsidy system. Taut carried forward the achievements of reformed housing construction into a new phase of urban design and stylistic modernisation with standardised floor plans. He followed the block edge structure of the traditional Berlin building regulations by placing the buildings parallel to the road and creating large residential courtyards inside the block. But the block buildings are open at the corners, and the elongated buildings at the edges of the block are arranged in parallel pairs: two from north to south with entrances from the west and balconies to the east, and two from west to east with entrances from the north and balconies to the south.Yards and other green spaces surrounded by buildings do not only support the identification and solidarity of the inhabitants with their housing estates.

Cultural & Aesthetic:In the course of the 1920s, the development of modern architecture led to a rationalist style which was sometimes minimalist in character. As a result, the forms gradually became simpler in the sequence of construction phases in the Schillerpark Estate, although this was also for economic reasons. To preserve the coherence of the overall appearance, Taut continued to use bricks as the facade material in the third construction phase (1929-30), but he omitted rendered sub-dividing elements and attics. The only highlighted elements were the wide windows with their brick surrounds and the slightly protruding loggias with the unpainted bare concrete parapets.Taut's urban design draws on the modern architecture of Holland, which he had got to know on a study trip at the beginning of the 1920s. His spatial concept was influenced by the residential estate buildings of J. J. P. Oud. The architecture with its red brickwork, the flat roofs and the sculptural addition of loggias and balconies to the facades reflects the Amsterdam school with its richly traditional, solid brick buildings.

A new principle, the concept of “transparent living”, was introduced after the war by Hans Hoffmann with his supplementary post-war housing estate buildings for the unfinished third construction phase. Hoffmann developed an original combination of Taut's style and his own architectural approach. With generous floor-to-ceiling windows, continuous balconies and flower windows large enough to walk in, he created facades with a high degree of transparency – and thus created a contemporary interpretation of the link to the outdoor living space, which was so important for Taut.

The outdoor areas were designed by the garden architect Walter Rossow and supported the effect of Hans Hoffmann's delicately-structured architecture. A characteristic feature, underlined by the lines of sight, is the rhythmic alternation of open and closed structures and the public, semi-public and private spaces such as the tenant gardens. This was enhanced by the use of different materials and design elements such as rustic walls, landscaped areas, and especially the larger variety and staggered height of the vegetation.

Historical:Schillerpark is the first cooperative large urban housing estate in Berlin which unites in itself nearly ideally all the typical features of “neues bauen”. The builder “Berliner Spar- und Bauverein” (Berlin savings and construction association) together with their architect Bruno Taut were pioneers of the reform housing. Here, within this Wedding housing estate they tested for the first time the model of a modern urban housing estate under the conditions of the new Berlin building regulations and the grant system of the mortgage servicing tax. The unconventional flat-roofed buildings were to represent the “New Berlin” as it had been proclaimed by urban development councillor Martin Wagner.

General assessment:Siedlung Schillerpark (1924–1930) is one of the first urban residential projects built after the end of the First World War in Berlin; an ideal combination of all the features of the new social housing developments that also embodies the model of a modern culture of urban life.

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