Modernism housing estates with colorful facades, ornamented with geometrical patterns, red brick roofs, charming wooden windows, shutters and balconies, surrounded with bloomed gardens… this well designed housing estate may be something out of a Disney films, but just as beautiful was the idea behind it. Falkenberg Garden city was created by German architect Bruno Taut between 1913-1916 and was listed on UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008. Industrialization during the 19th century caused migrations from villages to towns which caused many problems. While becoming a metropolis, not only did Berlin faced problem like overcrowding, but also social problems such as unemployment and pollution. Dark and cramped flats without basic hygienic facilities had to be replaced in order to solve housing problem. Taut’s responded was this beautiful social housing project.
Its design is based on Bauhaus straight and geometrical style including colorful patterns and wooden or brick decorative elements. Housing blocks are organized around an acacia courtyard mostly in rows. “The paint box housing estate”, is what it’s usually called; and it draws from the English idea of the Garden City which should consolidate rural and urban life. Renowned landscape architect Ludwig Lesser was hired to design the estate’s gardens and public spaces which provided lots of fresh air.
This was not an isolated project. Other modernist architects followed this idea and some of their housing estate projects are also under UNESCO protection. Unfortunately, when Nazi regime took over Germany modernism aesthetics lost its value and the period of democratic housing building came to an end. The idea of garden city is somehow present today in Berlin as its residents are environmentally conscious with many having private or community gardens beside Berlin’s vast green areas of parks.