Thursday, 17 May 2012

feature : When Architects Collaborate . . .

photo thanks to : panoramio


In 1927 seventeen European architects were invited to design a small housing estate of show homes in Stuttgart, Germany. Despite losing a third of the buildings during the Second World War, the Weissenhofsiedlung remains the best showcase of the International Style in the world.


The exhibition was organised by the Deustche Werkbund and funded by the City of Stuttgart. Mies (van der Rohe) was the lead architect and he hand-picked each architect to design and build a total of thirty three buildings, consisting of flats, terraced houses and detached houses – 63 homes in all. All but 2 were white, whilst every one utilised flat roofs, ribbon windows and an open plan interior. Each would be let out to families after the exhibition was over.


Many famous names of the day made contributions – Le Corbusier, Peter Behrens, Hans Scharoun and Walter Gropius, each adding their own twist to the exhibition theme “Die Wohnung” (The Dwelling), whilst Marcel Breuer, amongst others, designed the furnishings.

After just 18 weeks of a mass-production-style construction period the exhibition opened on 23rd July 1927. By the close at the end of October approximately half a million people had visited it.


It was, however, not to everyone’s liking. Many traditionalists were very vocal about the stark forms and lack of decoration. Even Hitler was against it. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the outbreak of the Second World War, the site would have been cleared to make way for a military command post. Instead all tenants were evicted and the army simply moved in. Several exhibition houses were destroyed during the war and were replaced by traditional style buildings. Restoration was the last thing on people’s minds during the rebuilding of a war-torn Germany.

The surviving buildings were finally listed as historic monuments in 1956 and thanks to huge support over the years the estate has been faithfully preserved, still open to the public to this day.


The Weissenhofsiedlung was a pioneering residential experiment that was possibly just too far ahead of its time. It has had a turbulent history, but after years of being misunderstood, it is now recognised that seventeen visionary architects collaborated in one unified project to change the face of modern architecture forever. 


by Darren Maddison


photo thanks to : architectuul

photo thanks to : openhousebcn 

photo thanks to : itaproject

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