New color trends of the model Werkbund estates and Neues Bauen residential architecture during the Weimar Republic in Germany

Jadwiga Urbanik



The purpose of the article is to present the color trends of the Werkbund model housing estates (1927–1932) in the background of Neues Bauen residential architecture built under the urban construction program during the Weimar Republic in interwar Germany (1918–1932). After the World War I, despite the exhaustion of the country due to war, effort was made to build new housing estates, which later became a model for modern housing solutions. The task of the architects of that time was to show that industrialization was not synonymous with the loss of individuality. An excellent weapon in the fight for individuality of housing estates was color, which was used to distinguish new buildings from the surrounding grays of the old ones. The Weimar Republic period in Germany, displayed two distinct color trends “white architecture” and the “colorful city” (“Die farbige Stadt”). The most spectacular changes, aimed at giving German cities a new face, were initiated by Bruno Taut in Magdeburg and Berlin, Ernst May in Wrocław (former Breslau) and Frankfurt am Main, and Otto Haesler in Celle. The exhibition housing estates of the Werkbund, constructed from 1927 to 1932, were a review of the tendencies entering the housing construction of the interwar period. Today, the only way to discover the architect’s original concept following years of use and reconstruction of the houses (even those under conservation protection) is through stratigraphic studies of the paint coatings. These types of studies have been conducted in many model housing estates. This article is based on personal experience of the author who participated in the revalorization of Wrocław’s model housing estate Werkbund, where both color trends are clearly visible.

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