ILANA CURTIS


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2017

LIGHT, AIR, SUN



Nestled amongst mature trees and fully embedded in greenery, the siedlungen, or housing estate, speckle the outer ring of Berlin proper. The siedlung design moved beyond previous housing typologies where nature and structure were separate and introduced masterfully planned, large-scale dwelling complexes that encouraged residents to interact with the natural environment and one another. Incorporating these principles into architecturewas bold and innovative at a time when parallel Modernist design approaches often resulted in segregated, and anonymous environments. The Siedlung architects’ emphasis on community dwelling, integration and access to nature served as a promising signal to the future of large-scale housing.

Today, nearly a century after their introduction, six of Siedlung estates, with their durable, human-centered designs have been accorded UNESCO World Heritage status. The structures testify to the confidence of modernist architects and planners in their ability to address contemporary social needs and challenges. Their solutions, deemed successful by some, and questionable by others, are worthy of exploration to determine what lessons they can impart to today’s designers and planners.