The Weißenhofsiedlung was built for the "Werkbund exhibition" in 1927 on Stuttgart's Killesberg. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the artistic director of the building exhibition, who also designed the urban planning concept and selected the architects. The aim of the exhibition was to present the basic ideas of modern architecture to a broad public and to help them achieve a global breakthrough.
Goals of the Werkbund exhibition:
Floor plans that provide plenty of light and air in the apartment to enable hygienic living conditions. Houses that can be mass-produced cheaply and industrial furniture that functionally fulfills its purpose. There were also exhibitions in which new building materials and working methods were presented.
The modern architecture differed from the previous style (classicism / Art Nouveau) by flat roofs, no ornaments and non-load-bearing facades. To demonstrate that the facade was not load-bearing, horizontal window strips were installed.
The Weißenhofsiedlung was important for the worldwide spread of modern architecture. With the Bauhaus in Dessau and New Frankfurt, there were already pioneers who designed and built modern architecture. The exhibition "Die Wohnung" in Stuttgart brought all prominent representatives of this new kind of architecture together and let them build a settlement. 21 houses with 61 apartments were built by 17 architects.
The best-known architects included Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Peter Behrens, Hans Scharoun, Walter Gropius, Jacobus J.P. Oud, Mart Stam, Hans Poelzig, Ludwig Hilberseimer, Bruno Taut and Max Taut. Other participants included Richard Döcker, Victor Bourgeois, Adolf Schneck and many other architects who designed individual apartments as interior designers.
Due to the many different architects, the Weißenhofsiedlung lacked a united urban idea. Unlike the Ernst May settlements in Frankfurt, there was no uniform concept. The Weißenhofsiedlung was a collection of individual buildings with different heights that did not form an urban space. The Weißenhofsiedlung was mocked as "Berber village" and the planners were called "theater architects". There was a lot of opposition from traditionalists. But as we know today, modern architecture has prevailed.
The National Socialists bought the Weißenhofsiedlung in 1938 and planned to build an Army Headquarter on the property. The demolition was prevented by the war, nevertheless 10 houses were destroyed during the war.
After the war, the Weißenhofsiedlung fell into disrepair, and some buildings were considered to be demolished. Individual houses were converted and provided with pitched roofs. It was not until 1987 that the remaining houses were extensively renovated for the 60th anniversary of the settlement. Today most of the houses look like they did in 1927. The destroyed buildings were not rebuilt.
The house of "Le Corbusier" is the most famous building of the Weißenhofsiedlung and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. The house was built together with Pierre Jeanneret in 1927. To the north of it is another home of the two Swiss architects. Today the Weißenhof Museum is located here.
Le Corbusier was a pioneer of modern architecture, with his "Five Points for a New Architecture", he provided the theoretical framework.
1. The house stands on supports.
2. There is a roof garden on top.
3. There are no load-bearing walls in the interior.
4. The windows are long, horizontal bands.
5. The facade has no supporting function.
Le Corbusier had already built the settlement of Frugès in Pessac near Bordeaux in 1924. Here you can already see his style. His Maison Cook in Boulogne-sur-Seine shows the house on supports for the first time. The house in the Weißenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart is one of the first buildings by Le Corbusier to be built on the principle of his 5 points.
The Stuttgart two-family house was divided into day and night for the Werkbund exhibition. One apartment represented the condition during the day and one at night. The flexible room layout with and without beds was demonstrated according to the principle of a night train. However, the comparison lagged because the relatively empty day apartment had one axis more. The hallway was on the rear facade and was only 70 cm wide as in a train. The flexibility and the open floor plans did not make sense to every visitor at the time.
Buildings by Le Corbusier:
The "Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart" city library was built according to the design of the Korean architect Eun Young Yi. The new Stuttgart Library opened in 2011. The structure stands on a square footprint. The cube measures 44 m and has a height of 40 m. In the center of the building is a four-storey high reading room.
The auditorium building for the "Hochschule der Medien" (Media University) was designed by Christof Simon. The cube like building was completed in 2016. The façade is made of concrete sandwich elements and large windows. The load-bearing façade allows maximum flexibility inside.
The "Fraunhofer Institute" for Labor and Organization has built an interesting new building by dutch architects of UNStudio (Ben van Berkel). The "Center for Virtual Engineering" serves as a laboratory for new work design and offers fluid spaces with communication-promoting structures.
The "Porsche Museum" was designed by the Viennese architectural firm of Delugan Meissl, who won the architectural competition in 2004 with 170 participants. The construction costs doubled until the opening in 2009 to approximately 100 million euro. The protruding steel construction of the exhibition hall is held by three concrete cores.
The town house of Jürgen Mayer H was inaugurated in Scharnhauser Park in 2002. The extravagant multifunctional building houses the town hall, the adult education center and the library. The Stadthaus Ostfildern is a cube with a metal cladding that protrudes 8 m above the entrance area. The underside of the cantilever is illuminated at night. The interior is accessed by an atrium. Exposed concrete and illuminated ceilings give the white interior a simple elegance.
Buildings by Jürgen Mayer H.
The new building of the art gallery ABTART by Nixdorf architects was opened in 2009. In 2012, the building received the "Award for Exemplary Building" by the Stuttgart Chamber of Architects. Two cubes of glass and bronze protrude from the dark brickwork. The gallery has 3 floors and a sculpture courtyard outside.
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