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Warhaftig House - Block 2

Berlin, Germany
1 of 8

This residential building, created within IBA Berlin 1987 framework as part of IBA Block 2, brought a brick cover to Dessauer Straße. The 4-storey house has a passage in the middle, with balconies above it. The entrances are arranged to the right and left of the passage. The façade looks lively, with windows of different sizes. The courtyard facade is quieter in its window front.

In the back, the apartments have small gardens with terraces. The building consists of 24 residential units of different sizes. All tenants have communal areas in the basement. There is a common room with a kitchenette, a laundry room, and bicycle storage. Special emphasis was placed on a "living-room-kitchen", which exceeds the surface of the actual living room and includes entrance, dining and cooking area and corridor areas.

Myra Warhaftig and Emancipatory housing

In the catalog for 2012 exhibition "ReVision - IBA 1987", there is a special entry describing the origins of this project:

"Myra Warhaftig had already made a contribution to the subject of emancipatory housing planning in 1978 with her dissertation entitled "The obstruction of emancipation of women by the way of dwelling and the possibility of overcoming it", written at the TU Berlin. It was based on the thesis that the transfer of upper-middle-class living environments to modern, smaller-scale housing construction had a restrictive effect on a modern family life, as it had placed the housewife, who replaced the upper middle-class maid, in the isolated spaces of home economics.

Participation in the »Women's Block« of the IBA 1984/87 gave Myra Warhaftig the opportunity to constructively implement her emancipatory ideas.

Architectural details

Lot two comes to Dessauer Straße with a brick facing. The 4-storey, 14-axis building has a passage in the middle above which balconies are arranged. The house entrances are arranged on three axes to the right and left of the passage. The facade appears lively through windows of different sizes, some with rungs. The courtyard facade is quieter in its window front.

The core of the 24 units plan was to build for each of them a large, open and central kitchen, from which the individual, similar sized rooms emanate. This layout was not only intended to offer each family member the same amount of space, but also to create a central and communicative space with the kitchen, in which various activities such as cooking, childcare and socializing could be combined with each other.

Myra Warhaftig and the building

After the building was completed, Warhaftig moved into one of the apartments with her two children. She wanted to personally experience how this space, which she created with the emancipation of women in mind, actually fits women's needs. Warhaftig lived there for the rest of her life. In 2011, a memorial plaque in her honor was unveiled. It reads:

"Here, from 1993 to 2008, lived Myra Warhaftig (11.3.1930 - 4.3.2008), architect and architecture historian. This house was designed by her as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA 1987), as a contribution to the realization of emancipatory living arrangements. With her work, Myra Warhaftig contributed to the memory of Jewish architects who were persecuted, deported and murdered after 1933."