Stuttgart: The home of Modernism
The Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart is considered to be one of the most notable housing visions of the modern age. It was conceived by a group of the most influential architects of the day under the artistic direction of legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a contribution to the 1927 exhibition Die Wohnung (The Dwelling) and completed within a tight schedule of weeks. To this day, the groundbreaking Weissenhof ensemble continues to inform the tenets of architectural design - and often appears curiously modern more than 80 years on.
Minimum form, maximum freedom: The modern architecture of the Weissenhofsiedlung characteristically and radically refrained from all use of flourishes and ornaments, the 17 participating architects instead propagating pure functionality. Alongside Mies van der Rohe, other famous contributors were Walter Gropius and Hans Scharoun, as well as Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret, who collaborated on a duplex house that is hailed as an icon of modern architecture today.
The finished housing project was initially the subject of bitter debate and later scoffed at by the Nazis during the Third Reich, who dubbed it an “Arabian village” in reference to its white terraces and even planned to tear it down altogether. In 1958, the estate, or rather the remaining 11 of the original 21 buildings were finally placed under a conservation order. They are still occupied today - with one exception, that of the carefully restored Le Corbusier duplex which opened as the Weissenhof Museum in 2006.
But what did the duplex look like originally? The entire estate went up in 1927 within an extremely brief and chaotic building period and many details were simply not recorded. We do not even know for certain the original color of the facades, only that contrary to popular assumption, they were not all white, but painted red, blue and shades of gray, too; contemporary black-and-white photos are little help in answering this question. Such challenges notwithstanding, the right half of the house has been largely restored to its original state and today serves as a “walk-through exhibit.”
Weissenhofmuseum: Rathenaustraße 1-3, Tel. +49-(0)711/257 91 87. Opening times: Tue-Fri 11am-6pm, Sat+Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: €5, reduced €2 (school and other students, unemployed, people with disabilities) www.stuttgart.de/weissenhof
Photos: Gonzales/Weissenhofmuseum, FLCfotografie gonzales_space4, Mauritius Images