Model housing estate being part of the Living and Work Space (Wohnung und Werkraum Ausstellung, WuWA) exhibition, Wrocław
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Model housing estate being part of the Living and Work Space (Wohnung und Werkraum Ausstellung, WuWA) exhibition

Wrocław

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The model housing estate accompanying the „Wohnung und Werkraum Ausstellung” (WuWA) exhibition is an excellent example of the implementation of modern trends in European urban planning and architecture of the 1920s. The value and uniqueness of the housing estate consists in its almost complete preservation, which is an exception among other exhibition housing estates built in Europe - in Stuttgart (1927), Brno (1928), Karlsruhe (1929), Basel (1930), Zurich (1931), Praha (1932) or Vienna (1932). The houses of the housing estate, bearing the features of functionalist architecture, are outstanding examples of the modernist architecture of Wrocław.

History

The Wrocław exhibition „Wohnung und Werkraum Ausstellung” (WuWA), devoted to the design of residential and workplace buildings, organised by the Silesian branch of Deutscher Werkbund (an association of progressive manufacturers, architects and designers cooperating with the industry) together with the Wrocław Association for the Construction of Housing Estates (Siedlungsgesellschaft Breslau A.G.) and running from 15 June to 30 September 1929, was to consist of a display part and an experimental model housing estate. The initiative to organise the exhibition and its concept are attributed to Heinrich Lauterbach. General development plans for the model housing estate and the modification of the Exhibition Areas around the Centennial Hall for the purposes of the event were developed by Adolf Rading and Heinrich Lauterbach. The display part of the exhibition was housed in the Centennial Hall, the Four-Dome Pavilion, and the Fair Hall. Several smaller display pavilions were also erected around the Centennial Hall specially for the exhibition. Model workshops, craft workshops, and office areas were also prepared. Additionally, a model farm (designed by Fritz Röder) and a holiday house for children (designed by Richard Konwiarz) were constructed in the Exhibition Areas. The housing estate was to consist of detached (single-family), multi-family, and terraced houses and small flats, including the interior equipment and furnishings, built with the use of new construction materials and modern technologies allowing for fast implementation of the project. The exhibition presented the contemporary trends in residential architecture, with special attention given to the need for the construction of inexpensive and healthy apartments of a high social significance in a period of deficit. The houses were designed by 11 architects who operated in Silesia at that time: Theo Effenberger, Moritz Hadda, Paul Häusler, Paul Heim, Albert Kempter, Emil Lange, Heinrich Lauterbach, Ludwig Moshamer, Adolf Rading, Hans Scharoun, and Gustav Wolf. The construction of the housing estate took only three months. According to the design, 37 houses were to be erected (each house being assigned an individual number), however, ultimately, not all the buildings were constructed. In total, 103 small apartments (having an area of 45-60 m2) and 29 larger apartments with model equipment and furnishings were presented. Moreover, the surroundings of the buildings were shown - kitchen gardens and public recreation gardens (designed by Fritz Hanisch, Erich Vergin, Paul Hatt, Kurt Schütze, and Julius Schütze). The furnished apartments were made available for sightseeing throughout the exhibition (running for three and a half months) and subsequently leased by an investor — the Wrocław Association for the Construction of Housing Estates — for two years in order to check the functionality of the new architecture. After the exhibition was closed, the houses were taken over mainly by the employees of the Wrocław Academy of Art and Design, architects, and writers. During the post-war period, the housing estate was gradually falling into decay and the houses started losing their value.

Description

The housing estate of the WuWA exhibition was erected in the eastern part of the city, in the Dąbie district, between the present Zygmunta Wróblewskiego Street and the Szczytnicki Park, to the east of the Centennial Hall and the Exhibition Areas. The land chosen for the investment was an area defined by the present: Edwarda Dembowskiego, Mikołaja Kopernika, Zygmunta Wróblewskiego, Tramwajowa, and Zielonego Dębu Streets. The housing estate was designed on an irregular, elongated, two-winged floor plan. The south and east borders of the southern part of the site is marked by Tramwajowa Street, and the west border — by a park avenue running at the back of the single-family houses at Zielonego Dębu Street. The southern part of the housing estate contained multi-family buildings and a nursery school, including: a multi-family balcony rental house, front-gabled in relation to Tramwajowa Street, located at 2 Tramwajowa Street (house No. 1 at the WuWA exhibition), with a single-storeyed annexe having a service function on the south side; a multi-family, high-rise rental house situated to the east of house No. 2, currently the “Pancernik” Student Dormitory of the University of Wrocław, at 2b Tramwajowa Street (house No. 7 at the WuWA exhibition); and a multi-stair rental house at 2a Tramwajowa Street (houses No. 3-6 at the WuWA exhibition), situated parallel to the western section of the street. At a certain distance to the north of these buildings, by a park avenue, there used to be a nursery school (no longer existing, the building is being reconstructed) — 18 Zygmunta Wróblewskiego Street, house No. 2 at the WuWA exhibition. On the west side of the northern section of Tramwajowa Street, there are terraced houses, lining the east border of the housing estate. These are (from the south): a multi-family rental house at the corner, 4 Tramwajowa Street (house No. 9 at the WuWA exhibition), whose south façade was to be adjoined by garages (not constructed- house No. 8 at the WuWA exhibition), further to the north — single-family, terraced rental houses, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 Tramwajowa Street (houses No. 10-22 at the WuWA exhibition), with free-standing, modern garages situated in small gardens at the back of the buildings. The housing estate design also projected the erection of three houses, designed by Theo Effenberger, on the other (east) side of Tramwajowa Street (houses No. 23-25 at the WuWA exhibition). However, this part of the design was not implemented. The north-east border of the housing estate is marked by the northern section of Edwarda Dembowskiego Street, up to the intersection with Mikołaja Kopernika Street; from the north-west, the housing estate is closed by Mikołaja Kopernika Street; and from the south-west, the northern part of the housing estate is marked by the eastern section of Zielonego Dębu Street. In this part of the housing estate, to the north from the intersection of Tramwajowa Street and Edwarda Dembowskiego Streets, there are detached, single-family houses. The following buildings were erected on the south-west side of Edwarda Dembowskiego Street: a high-standard semi-detached house with garages, 11-13 Edwarda Dembowskiego Street (houses No. 26-27 at the WuWA exhibition), a detached house with a garage, 9 Edwarda Dembowskiego Street (house No. 28 at the WuWA exhibition), and a semi-detached house, 23-25 Zielonego Dębu Street (houses No. 29-30 at the WuWA exhibition). The northern part of the housing estate is enclosed on the west side with buildings at Zielonego Dębu Street (access to those buildings is provided by means of a narrow cul-de-sac from Zielonego Dębu Street): a detached house, 17-17a Zielonego Dębu Street (house No. 35 at the WuWA exhibition), a detached house, 19 Zielonego Dębu Street (house No. 36 at the WuWA exhibition), and a detached house at 21 Zielonego Dębu Street (house No. 37 at the WuWA exhibition). The northern border of the housing estate was marked by a hotel for single persons and childless marriages, currently the Park Hotel and the Training Centre of the National Labour Inspectorate, 9 Mikołaja Kopernika Streets (house No. 31 at the WuWA exhibition). A detached house was to be constructed on part of the plot of land belonging to the hotel, presently a car park, in its south-western corner, from the side of Zielonego Dębu Street (not built - house No. 34 at the WuWA exhibition). In the north-west corner, on the south side of the road, at 7-8 Mikołaja Kopernika Street, a semi-detached house was erected; it was dismantled in the 1960s (house No. 32-33 at the WuWA exhibition). The housing estate was characterised by a free urban planning concept, withdrawal from the peripheral development, diversification of the street character, arrangement of the houses on the east-west axis, and ensuring the inhabitants a free access of air and sunlight and abundant greenery by means of loose building arrangement. The housing estate is made up of buildings having individual characters and diversified shapes: free-standing detached houses, detached terraced houses, different types of multi-family houses, and public utility buildings. The houses of the housing estate bear the features of functionalist architecture and they are classified as “international style.” The design of the majority of buildings is characterised by simple, cubic forms, flat roofs, and flat-shaped facades — developed in smooth plastering, painted in bright, pastel colours, with large glazings. The houses had large terraces (both at the ground level and on the roofs). They only had subtle decoration. The houses were the embodiment of the principles of modern architecture established by Le Corbusier; the buildings feature posts (as “a logical consequence of possibilities ensured by the use of steel and reinforced concrete”), flat roof-gardens, free floor plans, free façades, and oblong windows. The housing estate was also accompanied by kitchen gardens and public recreation gardens whose layout was subordinate to the modern architectural forms of the buildings. The present greenery of the housing estate is made up of both old trees valuable from a historical point of view and less valuable plants. An important element shaping the site is the park avenue surrounding the development from the west, lined with old trees, predominantly penduculate oaks, horse chestnuts, and European hornbeams. The beginning of the avenue is accentuated by a penduculate oak having the status of a natural monument.

Limited access to the site. The residential buildings are private property. The housing estate can only be visited from the outside.

compiled by Bogna Oszczanowska, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Wroclaw, 12-08-2014.

Bibliography

  • Werkbund Ausstellung. Wohnung und Werkraum. Breslau 1929. 15 Juni bis 15 September. Ausstellungs Führer, Breslau 1929 [katalog wystawy].
  • Niemczyk E., Nowa forma w architekturze Wrocławia pierwszego trzydziestolecia XX w., [w:] Świechowski Z. (red.), Z dziejów sztuki śląskiej, Warszawa 1978, s. 445-454.
  • Harasimowicz J. (red.), Atlas architektury Wrocławia, t. 1: Budowle sakralne. Świeckie budowle publiczne, Wrocław 1997, nr kat. 239, s. 193-197.
  • Urbanik J., Wrocławska wystawa Werkbundu WUWA 1929-2009, Wrocław 2009.
  • Eysymontt R., Ilkosz J., Tomaszewicz A., Urbanik J. (red.), Leksykon architektury Wrocławia, Wrocław 2011, nr kat. 892-893, s. 797-798; nr kat. 819-820, s. 751-752; nr kat. 1038-1042, s. 892-896; nr kat. 1068-1069, s. 910-914; nr kat. 1089-1092, s. 946-948.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, Warszawa 2006, s. 1037-1038.

General information

  • Type: spatial layout
  • Chronology: 1929 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wrocław
  • Location: Voivodeship dolnośląskie, district Wrocław, commune Wrocław
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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