1929 – 1931
Architect: Hugo Häring
Goebelstraße 12–118, Berlin
The large housing estate Siemensstadt, also called Ringsiedlung, established a new type of housing estate consisting only of multi-storey apartment buildings (in contrast to the large Berlin housing estates Britz and Zehlendorf). For the design of the housing estate, Martin Wagner, the city’s building councillor, appointed the members of the progressive architects‘ association Der Ring as well as the architects Fred Forbát and Rudolf Henning. The total of 1.370 apartments and 17 stores, built in three construction phases, were primarily intended to provide new living space for the employees of the Siemens company and to ensure daily local supply. The average apartment size was 54 square meters.
The development plan by Hans Scharoun points the way to the international modern urban design of the loosened up, structured and greened city, whose core is a generous green area designed by the garden architect Leberecht Migge. Most of the rows of the large housing estate are arranged in a north-south direction to ensure optimal lighting of the apartments. The architects typified windows, doors and floor plans of the apartments, most of which have two to two-and-a-half-room units, in the individual rows.
The Siemensstadt housing estate was one of the first in Berlin to be equipped with its own district heating system. Originally planned at a different location by Fred Forbat, the building was then placed in the middle of the housing estate equidistant from the eastern and western rows for technical reasons, in order to keep the supply routes for heating and hot water to a minimum.
With the central heating system installed, a better use of the living space was also to be achieved, as up to 5 square meters of living space could be gained in each of the small apartments by eliminating the tiled stoves that had been common until then. Although all the houses in Siemensstadt had been equipped with their own laundry and drying rooms, the heating plant designed by Otto Bartning in conjunction with engineer Max Mengeringhausen contained a central settlement laundry. After the settlement was connected to the Berlin district heating network, the district’s own heating plant was shut down and the distinctive chimney was demolished.
In his nine parallel rows of apartments in Siemensstadt, Hugo Häring contrasts a rather matter-of-fact eastern side, characterized by a clinker-clad attic, with a strongly plastic structured main and entrance side in the west. Kidney-shaped balconies swing out of the façade and are joined in pairs on the fourth floor by rectangular balconies. Leather-brown clinker bricks in the attic, on the balconies and at house entrances lend the buildings a warm color scheme.