Wohnstadt Carl Legien
UNESCO World Heritage
At the time the building complex was built it was done in a socially, architecturally pioneering way. In July 2008, the so called “Wohnstadt Carl Legien” was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was designed in 1925 by the architects Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger and built between 1929 and 1930 contracted by the housing society GEHAG.
The expression “Wohnstadt” comes from the open way it was built following a new social concept of building flats in the inner city. Until about 1920 one used to build so called “Mietskasernen” on expensive building land. These were cramped and over crowded accommodation with dark back yards. Compared to that, Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger planned a “Wohnstadt” as a project with big yards and parks that made affordable housing with light, air and sun possible. Every single one of over 1,000 flats in the U-shaped blocks with their community rooms consisted of a balcony. According to his motto “colour is quality of life” Bruno Taut designed the outside walls, window frames and stair cases in different colours. The housing scheme was taking as a building block for the inner city council house constructions in the Weimar Republic and is a classic example for the new way of building in Berlin. Bruno Taut (1880-1938) belongs to the most important people attached to Berlin and the new way of building. 10,000 flats were built according to his plans including the “Hufeisensiedlung” (horseshoe housing scheme) in Britz, the “Gartenstadtsiedlung” “Am Falkenberg” (garden-city-housing-estate) in Grünau and the “Waldsiedlung Onkel Toms Hütte” (wood housing scheme uncle toms shed) in Zehlendorf. The woodcarver, trade union leader and social democrat member of parliament Carl Legien (1861-1920) was the co-founder and in 1919/29 he was chairman of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (ADGB) (cooperation of German unions). He played an important role at the official recognition of the unions in a social partnership between employers and employees as well as at getting through the participation in the companies and the eight-hour working day (“Stinnes-Legien-Abkommen”). The housing scheme Carl Legien is listed as a protected historical property.