Stadtvillen an der Rauchstrasse, Berlin, Germany: a demonstration project (1980-6)
The Stadtvillen an der Rauchstrasse, Mietwohnungsbau financing the project.
located in the southern Tiergarten neigh- The overall urban design plan was developed bourhood of Berlin, was carried out as part by Rob Krier who also wrote the design of the Internationale Bauausstellung. The guidelines for each of the buildings located developer was Land Berlin with Sozialer on the site. In many ways the project is a
response to the massive, Pruitt-Igoe type housing schemes of the 1960s and 1970s in Germany (particularly in East Berlin).
Nine new buildings form the group with the tenth being the previously existing Norwegian Botschaft that encloses the southwestern corner (see Figure 8.68). Each building is slightly set back from the street with a lawn and avenue of trees on the street front. The 1-metre high and 4-metre wide slopes around each building site provide a platform for the apartment blocks and privacy for the ground floor apartments. The ratio of distance between buildings and building height is 1.3 to 1.5. The purpose was to balance the privacy and natural surveillance requirements of the residents. The buildings are situated around a rectangular internal garden of lawns, trees and a children's playground. A rectangular pathway with a semi-circular end parallels the buildings and loops around this internal court. Pedestrian/vehicular roads cut across the court in a north-south direction.
The buildings of the complex are a variation of the historic building types -embassies and expensive villas - that had existed on the site before the war. Other than the building in the northwestern corner that matches the Norwegian Botschaft in massing and the 'headhouse' designed by Rob Krier all the other six buildings are variations on a specified building envelop in the form of a cube. They were designed by renowned architects: Henry Nielebock, Giorgio Grassi, Brenner/Tonon, Francy Valentiny/Hubaert Hermann, Hans Holein and by Rob Krier himself. The headhouse consists of two cubes linked by a curved component concave to the interior of the block. The main entrance to the
Figure 8.69 Examples of the villas; Stadtvillen an der Rauchstrasse. (a) Floor plans of villas by Francy Valentiny/Hubaert Hermann, Hans Holein and Rob Krier and (b) sketches of the villas by Francy Valentiny/Hubaert Hermann, Hans Holein and Rob Krier.
interior park of the complex passes underneath this building (Figure 8.69).
All the architects have stuck to the cube in their individual building designs. All the buildings have similar floor plans with four apartments per floor being served from a central core. The building with the greatest variation is that designed by Hans Holein (see the central images in Figure 8.70). An angled staircase and walls set at an angle in the centre of the façade break the strictly cubical form. The result is a simple, highly unified, internally focused scheme containing 239 apartments.
The rigidity of design guidelines prescribing the aesthetic characteristics of buildings is often challenged by architects (see Scheer and Preiser, 1994). In this case, however, the individual architects had considerable freedom of aesthetic action within the cube form dictated by Krier. The disposition of apartment units was also a constraint. What the individual architects could not do is have geometric forms that deviated from that cubical form. Critics attack such controls on the grounds that it reduces architectural design to simply the treatment of façades. Krier purposefully set out to achieve a unity in his design in keeping with the tradition of much neighbourhood design. He achieved it.
Financially, it would have made more sense to have increased the total built area on the site. It is a complex well loved by its residents and much visited by architectural tourists. On a small site it displays the work of some prominent architects. The fragmented nature of the adjacent developments means that the streets act as boundaries to the complex rather than seams joining it to the Tiergarten neighbourhood. The scheme is, nevertheless, a good example of all-of-a-piece urban design. It is also a good example of Rob Krier's approach. It is repeated in other very different projects such as the high-density, high-rise De Resident (1989-2001) in The Hague. Architects as famous as those who worked on the Rauchstrasse project designed parts of the overall scheme there. They included Sjoert Soeters, Adolfo Natalini, César Pelli and Michael Graves (Figure 8.71).
Broadbent, Geoffrey (1990). Emerging Concepts in Urban Space Design. London: Van Nostrand Reinhold (International), 303-5. Kleihues, Josef Paul (1987). Stadtvillen an der Rauchstrasse. In Internationale Bauausstellung Berlin 1987: Projektübersicht. Berlin: IBA, 30-3. Rauchstrasse, Berlin (1980-5). Masterplan, selected buildings. www.krierkohl.de/projects/rauchstrasse. html
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