by Katrin Lesser and Ben Buschfeld, April 2016
The Hufeisensiedlung (Horseshoe Estate) in Berlin’s district Britz is very popular among architects, historians and town planners, although Bruno Taut (unlike Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Hans Sharoun or Erich Mendelsohn for example) did not have a second career after WordWar II. But he is actually the most influential architect for large residential estates in Germany from the 1920s.
Up to 2012 only few outsiders could ever see just how high living standards are behind his famous and colorful facades. Katrin and I – both long-standing residents of the estate are living just a few blocks away and are very passionate about monument preservation – decided to do something about this, so that architecture lovers from all over the world can enjoy these qualities in full. Because this is how fine architecture and design should be perceived – by just using it. So when the house with garden and veranda went up for sale, we went there and were absolutely thrilled how much original material had been preserved inside.
HomeStories is a series of articles on the people and stories behind the URLAUBSARCHITEKTUR properties.
URLAUBSARCHITEKTUR properties are very special places. They bring out the characteristic features of a location and their spatial concepts encapsulate the visions of the people who have designed and built them. With the HomeStories series we want to hand over to architects and critics, hosts and guests, inviting them to give readers a glimpse behind the façades of the URLAUBSARCHITEKTUR properties with personal insights that shed light on the very heart of these unique buildings.
Over a two-year period, we restored Taut’s typically lush and strong wall and floor colors, and meticulously renovated the historic tiled stoves, cupboards, flooring and windows. We stripped away newer layers of construction, researched in libraries, gathered original furnishings at antique traders and even designed numerous pieces ourselves, based on historical patterns of the Bauhaus era and some very interesting tenant magazines issued by the housing association at that time.
We love to share this experience and also offer guided tours through the neighbourhood for our guests. Nearly all of our them tell us how much they love the house and that it is great fun to discover all the little details implemented in there. This is even more important for us than the large media coverage and some awards we received. The original name of the house “Tautes Heim” is actually a German wordplay which is hard to translate. It is based on common saying similar to “Home, sweet home”. It means that nicely kept and familiar surroundings are the source of true happiness.
Katrin Lesser and Ben Buschfeld bought the house years ago, reconstructed it with much effort and started with “Tautes Heim”. Both also live in the Hufeisensiedlung. Katrin is a landscape architect and specializes in the reconditioning of historical gardens and parks. Ben is a designer working on projects in the communication of Architecture and Design.