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The Walter Gropius House is a residential building with nine floors and 66 apartments at the Handelallee 1-9 in Berlin Hansaviertel, bordering its central Grosser Tiergarten park. It was designed by Walter Gropius and The Architects Collaborative - TAC (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) in collaboration with Wils Ebert, Berlin, on the occasion of the first International Building Exhibition (Interbau, 1957). It is regarded as an important modernist landmark and was declared listed monument in 1980.

House Structure

Walter Gropius house is characterized by the concave structure, textured facade, and distinctive narrow sides. The apartments are accessed via four separate doorways, tower-like stairwells, and elevator shafts.The south facade has a richly differentiated structure with a vivid, decorative effect by the graphic arrangement of the protruding balconies, white, sail-like vaulted balustrades as well as colored, glazed balustrade elements. The ground plans of the three and a half room apartments are largely identical. They differ mainly in the position of the balconies, which are grouped into groups of four, thus creating a distinctive "checkerboard pattern" alternating with the window areas and concrete plaster walls.

Architects have rotated four apartments at both ends of the building in the east and/or west direction. These eight "twisted" apartments with their protruding loggias give the building a distinctive side view and also add interest to the main view through its flanks, which are executed in concrete plaster. The underside of the balconies was painted in powdery blue, the side balconies separating the adjoining balconies were brick-red, the building overhang of the eastern narrow side was emphasized by a dusky pink color. The four entrance doors are bright red, yellow, blue and green. The north-facing view is marked by the four tower-like staircase and elevator shafts. The north side is less colorful than the southern main view but features subtly differentiated surfaces: the height of the four staircase towers is emphasized by vertical grooves. The staircase towers are built partly inside, partly outside the building's body and originally also contained garbage chute shafts. The ground floor is surrounded by vertically grooved, matte brown ceramic tiles. Inside the stairwells, the side walls are veneered by brickwork, the sides of the walls are highlighted in bright yellow plaster. The vestibules of the four entrances are illuminated by glass blocks and are individualized with colorful ceramic tiles. On the top floor, there are two penthouse apartments with large roof terraces.

Green Areas

The green spaces of the entire Hansaviertel were conceived as an integrated masterplan within the framework of Interbau and were executed by ten internationally renowned landscape architects. In doing so, the borders between the adjoining Grosser Tiergarten park and the new residential district should be deliberately blurred.

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thedani, December 1st, 2017
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