Horseshoe Settlement

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Aerial photo with the eponymous part of the settlement, 2014
View from the front

The Hufeisensiedlung in the Berlin district of Britz is a social housing estate and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008 . It was created according to plans by the architect Bruno Taut , the architect and later Berlin city planning officer Martin Wagner and the garden architect Leberecht Migge . It is one of the first social housing projects and is considered an icon of modern urban planning and new building .

The settlement was built between 1925 and 1933 in several construction phases, of which the first six sections, built between 1925 and 1930, have been listed as an ensemble since 1986. In 2008, the Hufeisensiedlung was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Settlements of Berlin Modernism , along with five other Berlin housing estates . The settlement, which has also been registered as a garden monument since 2010 and named after the central component in the form of a horseshoe, is also part of the large Britz estate built from 1925 in direct competition by two different housing associations ( GEHAG and Degewo ). The DeGeWo component opposite the horseshoe, the so-called “Krugpfuhlsiedlung”, was also built from 1925 and designed by architects Ernst Engelmann and Emil Fangmeyer in a much more traditional language of form.

Social background

View from the outside staircase into the inside of the "horseshoe"

After the First World War , the influx of people to Berlin rose sharply due to the consequences of the war and general unemployment : the loss of territory and the largely disbanded army led to refugee flows and additional housing requirements. A great many apartments were very overcrowded, even though, for example, a one-room apartment with a kitchen was only considered overcrowded if there were five residents. In the early 1920s, there was a shortage of more than 100,000 apartments in the city. The construction activity, which was practically exclusively private at the time, could not meet the demand.

Therefore, from 1921 to 1928 numerous building cooperatives were established that tried to eliminate the housing shortage on a non-commercial basis and with social reform approaches. In the process, inexpensive and high-quality living space should be created, which should also have good transport connections. That was only possible through large-scale settlement construction. The horseshoe settlement is a first example of social housing and was an enormous challenge for architects and town planners .

Due to the new building regulations for Greater Berlin in 1925, 17 large estates were built in the following years, which had a high residential density, but also the required better living conditions and of which the Hufeisensiedlung is one of the best known.

The horseshoe settlement

The "red front" of the horseshoe settlement (back)

A settlement with around 2,000 apartments was to be built on the area of ​​the former Britz manor in Berlin's Neukölln district . As the architect and town planner in charge of the former non-profit housing company GEHAG, Bruno Taut was responsible for planning one half of the large estate with the horseshoe as the center. Together with city planner Martin Wagner, he developed the urban planning concept for the Hufeisensiedlung. Both supporters of the New Building wanted to transfer industrial working methods on a large scale to the building industry. Typed apartments and buildings as well as large-scale production should highlight its advantages. Martin Wagner used the construction of the settlement as an opportunity for studies on economic construction .

Taut brought his experience with the garden city of Falkenberg planned together with Ludwig Lesser to the planning stage . Despite the high density and emphasis on the urban space, the green and open spaces are given a high priority. The garden architect Leberecht Migge was commissioned with the open space planning of the Hufeisensiedlung , but the plans of the Neukölln gardening authority Ottokar Wagler were implemented, which were based in part on the plans of Migges, but gave the green spaces in the horseshoe a more representative character and thus Migges plans for public utility ignored by green and pond area. The green area comprises a public part in the center as well as private gardens directly connected to the houses. These were designed with a view to a cohesive picture according to a basic plan by Migge.

The main building, around 350 meters long and made of several similar modules, is curved in the shape of a horseshoe and encloses a pool, a groundwater sink that was left over from the Ice Age and its banks are slightly straightened. Around the "horseshoe" located in the center of the first and second construction phases, several rows of streets related to the central building are grouped . Another interesting urban development figure can be found on the west side of the horseshoe with the diamond-shaped plaza, the "Hüsung", which has similarities with an anger village and refers to the work of Fritz Reuters in its name .

Construction phases and design language

Colored facades in the Horseshoe Estate
Color and design of various doors and entrance areas

The horseshoe settlement was built between 1925 and 1933 in a total of seven construction phases. The core area of ​​the listed estate, built between 1925 and 1930, extends over a total of six construction phases and around 29  hectares . It was built on with 1285 apartments, most of which are housed in three-storey buildings along the street, as well as 679 terraced houses each with gardens. The seventh construction phase, built after 1932, is located southeast of the intersection of Fritz-Reuter-Allee and Parchimer-Allee and was built without Bruno Taut's involvement. The comparison of the first two construction sections north of Parchimer Allee with the sixth construction section opposite to the south is of particular architectural and cultural historical interest. Here, like nowhere else in Berlin, the architectural models of the time it was built - the garden city movement , reform housing and new building - can be read directly.

If the 472 terraced houses built around the horseshoe in the first and second construction phases tend to have an idyllic, village-like appearance inspired by garden city motifs with tile-covered gable roofs, lattice windows and house gardens at the rear, which can also be reached via narrow farm roads, the image of the The sixth construction phase, which begins south of Parchimer Allee, is more urban and, in terms of form, is moving closer to the New Building. The roofs of the 207 terraced houses built between 1929 and 1930, arranged in two by seven rows, are now designed as flat monopitch roofs , the window areas are larger and were realized as "fighter post" constructions and horizontally asymmetrically structured in the area of ​​the kitchen windows. The gardens were moved to the front from 1929. Along the access paths leading to the houses you can see the row construction typical of the later settlement building.

Almost 200 meters further east, along Buschkrugallee, you will find construction sections 3 to 5, which were built between 1927 and 1929. The buildings in these construction sections are exclusively of the same type as those on the larger streets along the edges of the first, second The sixth and sixth construction phase was erected - three-storey residential buildings with flat roofs, along the street, with one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half-room apartments and a half-height dry storey.

Color, interior design and special offers

Interior of the historically restored holiday home "Tautes Heim", furnished in the style of the time

In all buildings and construction phases, Bruno Taut also worked with a few simple but effective means, such as yellow and red clinker facings on the building corners, subtly kinking or curved street lines or groups of houses that protrude or recede slightly in the row. The high-contrast color scheme, which is particularly typical for Taut, is what creates identity. Taut deliberately designed the exterior of the estate through the use of structurally subtle and clearly varied facades. The long front of Fritz-Reuter-Allee was painted in “Berlin Red” (ox blood color) and is therefore popularly known as the “Red Front”. The facade is interrupted and structured by protruding, colored staircases interspersed with a vertical band of square-cut window niches. The entrances to the horseshoe were emphasized by a strong blue. The color scheme aroused a lot of criticism at the time, but is now a cherished trademark of the estate. It not only includes the plastered surfaces of the houses, but also includes the windows and entrance areas, which are very varied, rich in color and contrast.

Strong colors also dominated the interior at the time of construction. The intense color was intended to replace unnecessary wallpaper and probably varied depending on the incidence of light and the function of the room. At the time of construction, the colors that are only partially preserved today in exceptional cases were used in relation to the no less color-intensive tiled stoves that were in all living rooms at the time. A special opportunity for visitors to experience the original colors and creative ideas of Bruno Taut for a few days on the concrete object has been offered by the "Tautes Heim" holiday home since 2012, which has been restored to the original by two committed residents and in the style of the 1920s with many originals and replicas from the period has been furnished. The house is only rented and is not accessible as a museum. In 2013 it was awarded the European Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award and the Berlin Monument Prize, the Ferdinand von Quast Medal , for special services to monument protection .

In the central right head building of the horseshoe there is a shop - open on Fridays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. - with a small exhibition on the history of the settlement, which is suitable as an introduction to a visit to the other Berlin Modernist settlements and also one Holds a selection of specialist literature.

Significance, state of preservation and property situation

The Hufeisensiedlung was trend-setting for the settlement architecture of the 1920s and 1930s and is still today, despite the relatively small living space between 49 m² and 124 m², not only an architectural icon of world renown, but also a popular and attractive residential area. With the exception of the central horseshoe, all buildings are lined up in rows and each house has its own tenant garden. The entire complex is very green and is located in the immediate vicinity of the new cultural location, Schloss- und Gutshof Britz, which has been planned since 2010 . When strolling through the estate, it becomes clear how important the design of the front gardens was and is. All the front gardens in the first and second construction phase were enclosed by privet hedges and each street was given its own type of tree. Today the tree species typical for the appearance of individual streets are only sparsely available, as they were partially replaced by parking spaces in the 1970s. The main gardens to the rear and the gardens of the sixth construction phase also received a continuous basic planting, of which the fruit trees, planted in two rows throughout, shaped the lively image of the settlement.

Until 2000, the estate was owned by GEHAG , which was founded as a municipal housing company . Since then, the 679 terraced houses have been sold as individual properties when the tenants move out. The horseshoe itself as well as all apartment buildings are still owned by GEHAG, which will be continued under the umbrella of its legal successor, Deutsche Wohnen AG .

In the 1990s, the settlement was renovated and placed under monument protection as a building ensemble . Since 2010 it has also been registered as an independent garden monument on the Berlin list of monuments. As a result of the privatization, the preservation of the monument as a homogeneous ensemble is not only in the hands of GEHAG, but is also the responsibility of many hundreds of individual owners of the terraced houses. Although there are historical preservation reports for the preservation of the individual settlement elements, the more complex ownership structure still presents all those involved with new organizational challenges. In order to preserve the cultural and historical value of the townhouses and the accompanying gardens, a web-based information platform was implemented in 2010 on the initiative of a local support association and with funds from the federal investment program National UNESCO World Heritage Sites , with numerous plan details and house-specific specifications on color, The choice of materials and plants should contribute to maintaining the homogeneous appearance. Funds from the investment program could also be used for the colored facade paints, energetic optimization and the restoration of public green and open spaces in accordance with listed buildings.

In July 2008 the Hufeisensiedlung was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites along with five other Berlin Modernist housing developments.


  • Norbert Huse (Ed.): Four Berlin Settlements of the Weimar Republic , Argon-Verlag, Berlin, 1987, ISBN 3-87024-109-8 .
  • Jörg Haspel, Annemarie Jaeggi: Settlements of Berlin Modernism . Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 2007. ISBN 978-3-422-02091-7 .
  • Landesdenkmalamt Berlin (ed.), Winfried Brenne (project management): Settlements of Berlin Modernism. Nomination for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List . Berlin: Braun Verlagshaus, 2007, ISBN 3-938780-20-7 .
  • Christina Haberlik: 50 classics. 20th century architecture . Hildesheim: Gerstenberg Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3-8067-2514-4 .
  • Winfried Brenne: Bruno Taut. Master of colored building in Berlin . Verlagshaus Braun, 2005, ISBN 3-935455-82-8 .
  • Ben Buschfeld: Bruno Tauts Hufeisensiedlung (German and English). Nicolai Verlag, 2015, ISBN 978-3-89479-923-6 .

Expert opinions and other sources

  • Britz settlement (horseshoe settlement). Documentation and reconstruction of the original state. Basis for future renovation and maintenance measures within the scope of monument protection. Started from the architecture workshop Helge Pitz-Winfried Brenne (Vol. 1 Planning and Building History by A. Jaeggi and J. Tomisch). Expert opinion on behalf of the Gemeinnützige Heimstätten AG. 11 vols. Berlin 1984–1991
  • Katrin Lesser: Investigation of the listed open spaces and conception for future use. Volume 1 - Expert opinion, historical maps and plans, aerial photographs. Volume 2 - Historical and Current Photos. Expert opinion on behalf of the Berlin State Monuments Office, Klaus-Henning von Krosigk, Klaus Lingenauber. Berlin 2003
  • Katrin Lesser: UNESCO World Heritage Horseshoe Estate. Investigation of the listed open spaces and conception for future handling. Volume 1 - Expert opinion, historical maps and plans, aerial photographs. Volume 2 - Historical and Current Photos. Update of construction sections I and II. Addition of construction sections III – V and VI. Expert opinion within the framework of the investment program National UNESCO World Heritage Sites on behalf of the BBSR. Berlin 2009/2010
  • Ben Buschfeld: Exhibition in the Hufeisensiedlung information station (Fritz-Reuter-Allee 44, 12359 Berlin), Berlin 2012, exhibition created on behalf of Deutsche Wohnen AG as part of the National UNESCO World Heritage investment program (see also here ).
  • Extensive bibliography under: List of literature on Großsiedlung-Britz

Web links

Commons : Horseshoe Settlement  - Collection of images, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Year 1933: Horseshoe settlement in Berlin-Neukölln. In: Online exhibition “100 Years of Landscape Architecture”. Association of German Landscape Architects , accessed on February 11, 2018 .
  2. Tautes Heim. Retrieved February 11, 2018 .
  3. Friends and supporters of the Hufeisensiedlung Berlin-Britz eV in cooperation with the Berlin State Monuments Office at the Senate Department for Urban Development, accessed on February 11, 2018 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 26 ′ 51 ″  N , 13 ° 26 ′ 55 ″  E