A NEW LEASE OF LIFE FOR THE PREUSSENSIEDLUNG
In two construction phases with 45 small residential houses, each with their own garden, the architects Max Bell and Franz Clement constructed the first phase, while the second phase was constructed by Hermann Muthesius, an architect from the German Association of Craftsmen, „Werkbund“. This resulted in the prototype for a garden city: Living in a small house, in a neighbourly atmosphere in a green area, but with direct links to the conveniences of a large city, is a wish which is still valid.
Not a conventional investment property
As a classic victim of German reunification, the well-known residential complex, parts of which are protected historic buildings, rapidly deteriorated. Several changes of ownership and unattractive returns delayed the long overdue refurbishment of the buildings. Three quarters of the country homes were no longer habitable. Finally, an investor was found who commissioned a refurbishment plan.
Maintenance, not restoration
For the refurbishment, which was completed in 2012, the Berlin firm of architects Kubeneck Architekten who were commissioned with the planning and implementation, were guided by the concepts of Hermann Muthesius with regard to the preservation of historic buildings: The sole objective of preservation of historical buildings should be maintenance, but not restoration. The new constructions should be identifiable, but „supplements in the sense of an artistic completion of derelict or missing parts are absolutely not permissible“, as the architect from the German Association of Craftsmen, „Werkbund“ stated in the periodical „Kutur und Kunst“ in 1939.
One residential estate – two concepts
Two concepts were developed although this is a single residential estate. The first construction phase by Max Bel and Franz Clement consisting of 19 apartments with 55 m² in seven semi-detached houses is of greater historical than architectural interest. Here, the existing buildings were modified to a greater extent; the floor plans were optimised and the façades were externally insulated. The second construction phase by Hermann Muthesius with 26 terraced houses, which he combined to form an atrium were to be modified as little as possible. Because of this, the houses were insulated from the inside in order to preserve the character of the façades with their rough brushed rendering.
Modern materials – traditional roofing skills
The thing that both refurbishment concepts have in common is the renewal of the roofs. Roof tiles which precisely corresponded to the existing or historical form were used for the relevant construction phase. At the same time, the tiles which were used possessed the high quality of modern industrial products. Craft skills which continued in the tradition of high quality roofing were required on site.
Project namePreussensiedlung, Berlin, Germany
ArchitectMax Bel and Franz Clement (first construction phase), Hermann Muthesius (second construction phase)
Koramic Berliner Biber Segmentschnitt naturrot, Koramic-Ziegel Cavus 14 naturrot
Year of completion2012