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Westhausen Estate

Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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Westhausen is the last of the settlements that arose as part of the housing construction activity of the May era, the New Frankfurt. Construction began on September 15, 1929. Within four years, two construction phases, each with 426 and 690 residential units, were completed with tiny apartments in terraced houses and in multi-storey buildings with access balconies.

Contrary to the urban design of the "Römerstadt" settlement, which is based on the topographical situation of the Nidda Valley, Westhausen is an academic plan. It is comparable in arrangement and size with the western part of Praunheim, which lies north of the Westhausen settlement. The settlement was very conveniently connected to the city center of Frankfurt via the public transport network.


In 1925, Mayor Ludwig Landmann appointed Ernst May as City Planning Officer and put him in charge of the housing program and the general development plan. Ernst May appointed Wolfgang Bangert, Eugen Blanck, Herbert Boehm, Emil Kaufmann and Ferdinand Kramer as the most important employees to the newly organized office, as well as the self-employed architects Otto Fucker and Franz Schuster.The architects Kaufmann and Boehm had won a competition in Berlin Haselhorst by proposing an access system that was then also used in Westhausen. Their calculations convincingly demonstrated the economics of the proposed system and also guaranteed the same site conditions for all apartments in the terraced houses. The planners had to fulfill their task with a tight budget and decided to adopt the planning system of this competition: a grid of residential streets running perpendicular to the main streets (Kollwitzstrasse in the west and Zillestrasse in the east) without any extensions, and residential paths with single-storey extensions running parallel to the main streets . Two rows of terraced houses, each with seven houses, were built on the narrow residential streets between every two of the uncultivated access roads. They form house groups. In between there is a vertical green corridor. It is exactly twice as wide as the access roads. A number of modern children's playgrounds are now interspersed in this green area, which was planted with the then current type of tree, the birch, and at both ends with walnut trees in a free arrangement. The later planted bushes and trees do not correspond to the original planting plan.Despite its simplicity and straight lines, the development and building system provides a comfortable living environment with its large proportion of green space, which represents a high level of appeal for those who live there.

Buildings & Plan Scheme

The houses have been built in traditional brick construction. Only between the Stephan-Heise-Strasse, the Hanna-Kirchner-Strasse and the second green corridor running parallel to it are they built with elements of the Frankfurt prefabricated building method - one of the most admired decisions of the New Frankfurt for fast and inexpensive construction at the time: In this way, from 189 houses with 378 residential units were built in the second construction phase in 1929, which accounts for around 25% of the entire construction project. The Frankfurt Building Department had developed standard sheets for the entire construction project. The two-storey terraced houses were originally designed for one family. In order to save on rental costs, however, the house was built as a two-family house type, the so-called ZwoFa type. These small, transitional apartments had three rooms, a bathroom with a hot water heater and toilet, and a centrally located oven, which went down in the building history of Frankfurt as the "Kramer oven". The 40 square meter and 42 square meter apartments did not have a conventional eat-in kitchen, but a modern one Fitted kitchen, the so-called "Frankfurt kitchen". At 7.50 m, the house was unusually wide compared to the typical terraced house of today. The apartments in the arcaded houses had a similar layout, but were equipped with central heating. The furnishings for these tiny apartments were manufactured by the "Städtische Hausrats GmbH". The designs came from Franz Schuster and Ferdinand Kramer after a competition won in 1925. At the time, the concept was called "Educating the population to be simple and solid". Outside, every two houses had an entrance arranged in pairs with a pedestal, doormat, mailbox and common trellis with plant trough and a pergola roof (partly replaced by "modern" installations with privacy screens during renovation work after the Second World War).

Later Alterations

There were no shops in the original settlement. In the post-war years, several shops and workshops were set up in the ground floor apartments. Today there is only one shop, a kiosk and a commercial shop with a warehouse in the "central wash house". It is no longer used as a wash house, but its chimney forms a visually striking point in the south-west of the settlement.The many additions and installations made in the course of the use of the residential complex have repeatedly led to conflicts with the monument protection authorities, who are trying to exert influence. The original "face" of the houses and the entire complex should be preserved. Examples of these attempts are the houses at Zillestraße 42 to 54. The removal of built-in components, such as the roller shutter boxes and doubled front doors, which were atypical for the 1920s, led to annoyance and conflicts with the users. In the 1970s, the original, series-produced wooden windows with slim profiles were replaced by plastic windows with wider window frames. The individual house paintings and glass fixtures in the entrance area in parts of the settlement instead of the simple green trellis made of tubular steel distort the original face of the settlement Due to the unusually low building density, the question of parking cars has not been solved. Partial intervention by the residents leads to disturbances in the settlement plan.

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