these are the posts tagged ‘architecture’:

the modernist housing estates of berlin

the museum island is berlin’s most famous unesco site, its central location and abundance of interesting museums ensuring its place in all guidebooks. but did you know that berlin has another, less well-known unesco attraction?

spread over 6 locations around the city, the modernist housing estates are a group of buildings built between 1910 and 1933, (especially during the weimar republic) which represent the building reform movement in berlin. here’s how unesco describes them:

The housing estates reflect, with the highest degree of quality, the combination of urbanism, architecture, garden design and aesthetic research typical of early 20th century modernism, as well as the application of new hygienic and social standards.

the estates were built at the end of the first world war (when demand for housing in berlin was higher than ever), by cooperatives and non-profit organizations in the (once) outer, rural areas of the city. they were innovative in their design but especially for the open-housing concept of “garden towns and cities” – in contrast with the 19th century corridor-like streets. the main architects involved were bruno taut, martin wagner, and walter gropius (one of the founders of the bauhaus school).

the pictures on this post are from the estate closest to our house, the Hufeisensiedlung. Hufeisen means “horseshoe” – which is what it resembles when you look at it from above!


most places have some structural detail that identifies them or hints at their location. things like the materials used, the shape of the sidewalks, the tiling or even the color of the scaffolding nets… for me, one of berlin’s most distinctive features is the omnipresent plattenbau.

plattenbau is a style of pre-fabricated buildings made of concrete panels. they became a popular construction method in the 60s, when demand for housing in berlin was high as they were cheap and quick to build. they’re easy to spot and you can still find them a bit everywhere, from nikolaiviertel to marzahn. just keep your eyes up!

pretty trimmings

i have a growing obsession with trimmings and small, nice decorative details on buildings. do you ever notice them? they’re like candy for the eyes, or the syntactic sugar of construction! :)

more of that, please!

škofja loka

škofja loka, one of the oldest settlements in slovenia, has a sad story. so sad in fact that after reading this passage from the lonely planet, we wondered how much of the town would still be there:

In the Middle Ages Škofja Loka developed as a trade centre along the Munich-Klagenfurt-Triste route, doing particularly well in iron, linen and furs. A circular wall with five gates protected by guard towers was built around the town in 1318 to ensure that this success continued.
But it was all for naught. An army of the counts of Celje breached the wall and burned the town to the ground in 1457; two decades later the Turks attacked. Then natural disaster struck: an earthquake in 1511 badly damaged the town, and several great fires at the end of the 17th center reduced most of Skofja Loka’s finest buildings to ashes.

on a cold saturday, škofja loka greeted us with lovely details in every corner, 16-17th century frescos on the houses façades and a castle that overlooks the town on top of a hill. and hot chocolate in a cozy café. :)

no surface shall be left plain

really missing the visual stimulation of islamic architecture. walking down the streets and noticing all the colors and geometric details in the facades.
(by comparison, shanghai is so bland and grey…)