Strategies for Post-War
Maren Harnack, Natalie Heger, Matthias Brunner
Post-War Modernist Housing
in the Stuttgart Region
27 Large-Scale Heritage
A Conservation Perspective
on Late Modernist Housing
37 Highly Visible & Highly Valuable
Big Housing Estates of the Boom Years
47 Multi-Storey Housing in Britain
A Historical and Heritage Overview
59 The Crux of Inward Development
Stefan Kurath, Simon Mühlebach
67 Maintenance, Repair, and Renovation
of the Finnish Post-War Housing Stock
Preserving Urban Design in
Neighbourhoods Built Between
1938 and 1968
Susanne Dreissigacker, Nicole Froberg
85 Future Prospects for the Neue Vahr
An Interdisciplinary Approach to
Drafting a Leitbild
95 Conservation or Replacement
of Large Housing Estates?
Experiences from Bijlmermeer,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
105 That’s How It Works!
Replacing the Student Housing Complex
in the Olympic Village, Munich
115 Preserving the Legacy of Álvaro Siza
Teresa Cunha Ferreira, José Aguiar
125 Bremer Punkt
140 Image Credits
planning policy, post-war neighbourhoods are all more or less
worthless. Open spaces will inevitably go to rack and ruin, so it
is maintained, because they are not clearly identifiable as either
private or public and therefore not used. Post-war modernist
neighbourhoods are also often subject to densification because
they are usually owned by a single or a few large, often even
public, landlords, and this makes them the easiest location to
implement infill development.
In many ways, it would be regrettable to lose all post-war
neighbourhoods. Most of these estates now fulfil the socially
important task of providing high-quality housing at a reasonable
price, and more cheaply than new housing estates. Many of
these housing schemes are important historical witnesses. They
represent the solution to the housing crisis which arose from
industrialisation and was only overcome thanks to industrialised
construction methods. They bear testament to the young Federal
Republic’s efforts to form a new, egalitarian and democratically
constituted society. Some of these housing schemes are
also outstanding architectural and urban design achievements.
This is why we must urgently find ways to preserve at least
the most important estates. Crucially, entire neighbourhoods,
including open spaces, must be saved for posterity, not merely
select individual buildings. Only by doing so can we ensure that
overall urban designs remain intelligible. However, apart from a
few important exceptions, it will not be possible or sensible to
keep all of the individual buildings within entire neighbourhoods
as close to the original as possible. This would result in an excessive
number of monuments and would hardly be acceptable
to society at large. Furthermore, the achievement in terms of
Baukultur is often due to the interplay among large numbers of
generic buildings rather than the design of individual outstanding
buildings. Generally, the challenge will thus be to develop
appropriate development control or conservation tools to protect
urban ensembles. Compared to object-based listing, this
type of conservation would be particularly helpful in making it
simpler to deal with the public realm, which is subject to an especially
large number of new demands, such as for access and
The debate around preserving exemplary post-war neighbourhoods
is still open. As yet, there is no agreement as to which
schemes to preserve, or how to do so. In providing a platform
for different views, this book aims to highlight possible
1 The low-rise high-densitiy housing estate Roter Hang in Kronberg
has been designated as a conservation area in 2016.
conservation options and approaches and ultimately to promote
the preservation of these neighbourhoods. The first section will
focus on discussing fundamental issues around listing and preserving
post-war modernist neighbourhoods.
Martin Hahn reports on the State Conservation Bureau
of Baden-Württemberg’s systematic recording and evaluating
of post-war modernist neighbourhoods. This allowed some
smaller, high-quality housing estates to be listed, but all of the
larger schemes had already been changed too much to be protected.
He proposes using planning law to protect these estates
from further detrimental change.
Mark Escherich explores how East German conservation
authorities deal with large housing estates. He notes the current
trend towards listing the last, unchanged specimens, even if only
their authenticity sets them apart from mediocrity. With this in
mind, he argues that urban ensembles should not be fundamentally
excluded from listing, simply because minor changes have
already taken place.
Silke Langenberg emphasises that adequately handling
post-war modernist neighbourhoods requires a precise knowledge
of the history of construction methods. This knowledge
paves the way for protecting even apparently banal system
buildings and developing better refurbishment strategies. She
also suggests applying innovative post-war construction methods
to today’s building practice.
In his contribution, Miles Glendinning observes that only
one of two key strands in British post-war modernist housing is
reflected in the current listing practice. Development dominated
by innovative design ideas from London’s architectural elite
is perfectly reflected, but local diversity arising from local authorities’
independently organised housing delivery is largely
Stefan Kurath and Simon Mühlebach set out two criteria
for raising density in post-war neighbourhoods which are primarily
significant urban design ensembles: the key qualities in
terms of urban design and open space must be preserved, and
the increase in density must deliver a benefit to society. They
maintain that the latter cannot be achieved if too much cheap
housing is destroyed, or the number of residents is not raised;
and that their criteria can best be met by adding storeys and
extensions rather than by replacement buildings, as rents in new
buildings are almost always higher.
2 Walter Schwagenscheidt’s and Tassilo Sittmann’s Nordweststadt in
Frankfurt is the only Raumstadt-type neighbourhood. Despite its
undisputed importance plans for its conservation are non-existent.
3 Im Schneider residential complex, Waiblingen.
typical appearance and the housing schemes’ varied syntax of
large apartment blocks, terraced housing and individual houses
remains recognisable. Closer inspection, however, reveals massive
reconfiguration, such as open floors being now enclosed,
extensions and conversions in different materials, structural and
energetic upgrades and much more of the like. Buildings of the
1960s and 1970s are very susceptible to alterations, and authenticity—so
central to the protection of monuments—is all too
easily lost. The housing schemes’ worth as witnesses of the
boom years in urban development in Germany is considerably
By contrast, individual buildings dominating the urban
context, often designed by well-known architects, remain comparatively
well preserved. Being structurally well executed, these
neighbourhood beacons, such as Hans Scharoun’s Romeo and
Juliet, Salute and Orplid towers, meet the quality benchmarks
as individual monuments. Other evident legacies include ambitiously
designed and well-built (smaller) housing schemes, usually
penned by renowned designers and built for an affluent
4 ‘Himmelsleitern’, Hemmingen.
Two remarkable high-rise buildings in Hemmingen in the Ludwigsburg
district are examples of architectural beacons in a
wider neighbourhood. Located on the fringes of an old village,
Paul Stohrer, one of the most prominent post-war architects in
the Stuttgart area, built the so-called ‘Sky Ladders’ (Himmelsleitern)
in 1971–74. 3 They are supremely emblematic of the search
for new forms of high-rise housing during the early 1970s, a time
of growing criticism of ‘inhospitable’ contemporary urban planning,
and a sense of fatigue with plain ‘concrete boxes’.
Around this time, high-rise and terraced housing was being
combined at the Apollo complex in Freiberg, one of Stuttgart’s
satellite neighbourhoods, whilst the Schnitz or Tapachstrasse
pyramid houses explored completely new typologies and structures.
Stohrer’s idiosyncratic, almost futuristic-looking variation
on the high-rise in Hemmingen must be seen within this context
of dense housing development.
The Im Schneider housing estate in Waiblingen, near Stuttgart,
is a prime example of the exclusive, high-quality, residential
complex. Hans Kammerer and Walter Belz brilliantly exploited
a vertiginous site, stacking 34 single-family homes on top of
3 Edeltrud Geiger-Schmidt,
Denkmalpflege in Baden-
Württemberg 41, no. 2 (2012),
Historical monument preservation authorities can provide professional
support for this process, especially in terms of evaluation
and sorting. However, responsibility should be shared and
should also be focused on what is to be protected: historical
monument preservation authorities can offer up their expertise,
working with owners to preserve particularly illustrative objects.
Municipalities should take responsibility for second tier items
worthy of protection and use tried and tested urban planning
tools to protect their structure and general appearance, especially
in large mass housing developments. Even beyond the
reach of historical monument preservation, interesting examples
of urban planning from the past can be guided into the future
without completely losing the charm of their time.
Above all, post-war modernist housing and neighbourhood
development still requires a great deal of dissemination
work. These developments are still often regarded as remnants
of a ‘less glorious chapter of German building history’ 7 , which
one is free to alter at will. New enthusiasm for the legacy of postwar
modernism, a growing fan base in social media, e.g. for brutalism,
8 plus a considerable number of conferences on this complex
of issues and increasing university research activity, raises
hopes that it is not yet too late for the preservation and meaningful
further development of post-war modernist neighbourhoods.
The project also highlights that time is progressing ever
faster. Already, it is time to think of the 1980s and 1990s. Postmodernism
and the paradigm shift in urban redevelopment after
1975, and the transition from neighbourhood redevelopment to
conservation and renewal, have also produced objects worthy
of protection that can be legally assigned cultural monument
status. The State Conservation Bureau of Baden-Württemberg
has thus already included individual outstanding objects from
this even more recent period in its list of monuments. 9
7 Vittorio Magnano Lampugnani,
Die Stadt im 20. Jahrhundert:
Gebautes (Berlin: Wagenbach,
2010), p. 718.
8 See www.sosbrutalism.org
(last accessed 13 April 2020).
9 Martin Hahn, ‘75 reloaded’,
in Jahresbericht der Bau- und
Baden-Württemberg 2019 (in
A Conservation Perspective
on Late Modernist Housing
The late modern legacy—post-war modernism of the 1960s to
the 1980s—is now gaining more and more interest across and
beyond disciplinary boundaries. This has obvious implications
for research into architectural and planning history, but also for
practice. For example, around 60 per cent of Europe’s current
building stock was built during the second half of the twentieth
century. Economic, environmental, and social considerations
alone make a debate around responsibly managing, improving,
and further developing this large-scale heritage seem inevitable.
Preserving the Heritage
Environmental concerns and resource awareness are increasingly
gaining weight in the professional conservation discourse.
And yet contemporary buildings also continue to gain heritage
status on the basis of conventional considerations. Thus, the
general public’s appetite for preserving buildings from the 1960s
to 1980s is growing, whether for remembrance, historical reassurance,
orientation, pride, or a sense of home.
Completed in 2017, the research project ‘Which Monuments
of Which Modernity?’ (Welche Denkmale welcher Moderne?) identified
a need to make key changes to the underlying objectives
for preserving late modern buildings. This included recognising
the need for conservation practice to preserve credible architectural
monuments in all their complexity, and for listing practice to
acknowledge this era’s ‘significantly greater monument potential’ 1
1 ‘Das bauliche Erbe der
1960er bis 80er Jahre:
Auswahl, Akteure, Strategien’,
working paper of the BMBF
research project ‘Welche
Denkmale welcher Moderne?’,
Dortmund and Bauhaus-Universität
Weimar in collaboration
with various partners in
published in Die Denkmalpflege
75, no. 1 (2017), pp.
Final publication: Frank
Eckardt, Hans-Rudolf Meier,
Ingrid Scheurmann, and
Wolfgang Sonne, eds., Welche
Denkmale welcher Moderne?
Zum Umgang mit Bauten der
1960er und 70er Jahre (Berlin:
3 Karl-Marx-Allee phase II, Berlin, detail of ceramic tile replica façade.
Beyond Heritage Conservation
The heritage conservation approach reaches its limits when
there is a need to take aspects into account that reach beyond
the fabric and appearance of the object to be protected—for
example, if a megastructure should be read as the momentary
configuration of a dynamic system, as Hnilica puts it. Hence the
Free University of Berlin’s famous ‘rust bucket’ (Rostlaube) does
not represent a finished design: in fact, it can be extended in
tune with its urban design, even if the architectural expression
is very different. 10
The suitability of conservation’s focus on being able to
describe what is to be protected can also be questioned when
it comes to system-built schemes. In theory, standard prefabricated
elements allow for unlimited growth, and so ‘further system-based
construction’ 11 seems an obvious and possibly
10 On the so-called ‘wooden
shack’ (Holzlaube) extension
from 2010 onwards, see
Hnilica, Der Glaube an das
Grosse in der Architektur der
Moderne (above, n. 7), p. 246.
11 Ibid., p. 245.
4 Ernst-Thälmann-Park tower blocks, Berlin. In 2014, the estate was
listed as a conservation area and the buildings as individual monuments.
promising approach to future conservation. Both Hnilica and
Silke Langenberg (who has researched late modern construction
systems in depth) favour approaches of this kind. 12
In future, conservation through further construction (in
large-scale late modern developments) may come to naturally
complement real-estate and conservation-driven approaches,
or even be profitably combined with them. Scientifically observing
and evaluating these practices for future use is certainly an
12 Silke Langenberg, Das
Offenheit als Prinzip (Sulgen:
Niggli, 2013); Silke Langenberg,
Bauten der Boomjahre:
Architektonische Konzepte und
Planungstheorien der 60er und
70er Jahre (Dortmund: Wulff,
2011); see also her contribution
to this volume.
Highly Visible & Highly Valuable
1972 ELEMENTA competition, which aimed to ‘realise buildings
of different shapes and sizes with different functionally adequate
floor plans using only a few standardised prefabricated elements’.
16 The entry submitted by Neue Heimat’s design department
under the direction of Paul Seitz received only third prize;
post 1973, its cross-wall construction system with load-bearing
transverse walls and a span of 7.20 metres was used in-house
for projects in Hannover, Oberhausen and Hamburg (Mümmelmannsberg
estate). 17 The façade panels and partition walls were
not load-bearing, allowing the flats to be arranged very flexibly;
for the tenants, however, this flexibility was often limited to adding
an extra wall to create separate bedrooms for the children. 18
Besides the prefabrication of standardised elements in factories,
various new and improved formwork technologies were developed
further and tested directly on construction sites from the
mid-1960s onwards. While climbing and sliding formwork was
increasingly used for installing shafts and stair cores in tall buildings,
formwork carriages, or displaceable formwork facilitated
cross-wall construction. 19
Improvement and Architectural
16 ‘Fertigteilbau: Elementa 72’,
Deutsche Bauzeitung 110, no. 7
(1976), pp. 21–38, p. 22.
17 ‘Die Wohnung passt sich der
Familie an’, NHM, no. 1
(1973), pp. 13–22.
18 Peter M. Bode, ‘Verschiebbare
Wände im Schneckenhaus’,
Der Spiegel, 14 July
1975, pp. 40–44.
19 See Rolf-Dieter Kowalski,
Schaltechnik im Betonbau
(Düsseldorf: Werner, 1977);
Oskar M. Schmitt, Einführung
in die Schaltechnik des
The goal of adaptable floor plans potentially eases the current
improvement and redevelopment of many boom year developments.
The same is true for their structure and construction
techniques. In particular, cross-wall structures with non-loadbearing
interior walls ease adaptation to contemporary needs: 20
Small rooms, which today’s inhabitants might find too tight, can
be merged into one; curtain wall façades can be adapted to
current climate, energy and design requirements. Technically,
these improvements are comparatively easy to carry out, unless
buildings are individually protected historic monuments. 21 They
improve resource efficiency, as most grey energy is stored in
the heavy loadbearing walls and ceilings. Greater public support
can be expected if the façade design is updated at the same
time. The time and cost required for more flexibility—a conscious
investment at the time of construction—can only pay off if the
upcoming redevelopments make use of it. It is only now, about
fifty years into the life of the buildings, that we may (or may not)
be able to prove whether these costs were justified.
20 Some of the most prominent
examples are designed by the
architects Anne Lacaton and
Jean Philippe Vassal, e.g. the
Tour Bois le Prêtre in Paris
(2011) or the Transformation
of 530 dwellings, block G, H, I
in Bordeaux (2016).
21 An example for the improvement
of a façade of a
cross-wall constructed (listed)
building is the Cité Le Lignon
near Geneva. See Jürg Graser,
‘Der Koloss von Genf’,
Deutsche Bauzeitung db 149,
no. 2 (2015), pp. 88–91.
5 Plettstrasse development, Munich-Neuperlach, 2014.
Multi-Storey Housing in Britain
A Historical and Heritage
In this paper, we will first review the unique, specific characteristics
of social housing in Britain as opposed to elsewhere, organisationally
and architecturally, and then, secondly, will examine
whether those special characteristics helped shape the
selection of high-rise social housing for statutory protection, or
‘listing’ as it is called in Britain—a system which, incidentally, is
in general much broader and shallower in coverage than the
monuments historiques system in France, and split between a
process of designation by central government inspectors, usually
art-historically trained, and subsequent administration by
planners—as opposed to the integrated role of dedicated heritage
professionals as with German Denkmalpflege.
Building Public Housing in Britain:
a Municipal Kaleidoscope
Historically, the key special characteristic of post-war social
housing in Britain is highlighted in the very name that is usually
used for it there—‘council housing’. Whereas in Germany and
other western European continental countries it was mainly
arms-length bodies that organised social housing (public agencies
or social housing companies or co-operatives), things were
very different in the Anglophone countries in general. There,
tenure was absolutely dominant. Housing was either public housing,
directly organised and built by public authorities, or private.
Multi-Storey Housing in Britain
1 Portsmouth Road, London.
And in Britain, the polarisation went even further: from 1919 to
around 1990, public housing was almost entirely public rental
housing, built, owned, and managed directly by the larger local
authorities—hence the name, ‘council housing’. Council housing’s
very name highlights the fact that its central decision-makers
were elected local politicians, and that it was a direct extension
of local politics. In this system, central government exerted
only a relatively weak influence, via subsidy rates—municipal
power reigned supreme. 1
Between 1945 and 1965, council housing accounted for
57.8 per cent of all new dwellings in Britain. Within the semi-federal
system of Britain, however, there was a significant further
divergence between Scotland, where council housing became
overwhelmingly dominant, and England and Wales, where council
housing and home ownership flourished in parallel. In Scotland,
the vast new schemes catered for lower middle class and working
class, skilled and unskilled alike, and rents were exceptionally
low—less than half of English levels in 1959. Overall per-capita
public-housing output in Scotland from 1945 to 1970 was
1 Steve Merrett, State Housing
in Britain (London: Routledge,
2 Roehampton Lane, London.
twice that of England and Wales, and by the early 1960s, the
proportion of all housing directly built by public agencies in Scotland
(79 per cent) was much higher than that of any other Western
country: in Glasgow between 1960 and 1975, 95 per cent of
new housing was council-built. Central-government politicians
and civil servants trembled in the long shadow of Glasgow and
its municipal Housing Committee: ‘Glasgow Corporation was
the power in the land—no Minister sitting in Edinburgh could do
much about Glasgow!’ 2
In many ways, however, the underlying approaches to
public housing development were similar in both Scotland and
England. For example, both placed a huge emphasis on ‘slum
clearance’ redevelopment of ‘obsolete’ housing by the big industrial
cities in their inner areas, as opposed to the peripheral
grands ensembles/Grosssiedlungen of most continental countries.
Partly, this was because the early suppression of private
landlords had caused faster housing decay than in many other
countries, and partly because the municipalities had gained far
more radical powers than in West Germany for compulsory
2 Miles Horsey, Tenements and
Towers: Working-Class Housing
in Glasgow (Edinburgh:
RCAHMS, 1990), p. 35.
Multi-Storey Housing in Britain
5 Hutcheon Street, Aberdeen.
emphasis on architectural individualism (notably Lambeth and
Southwark, with high rise blocks, and Camden, with low rise).
The greatest enthusiasts for LCC-style ‘enlightened’ design were
the New Towns, whose governance by appointed administrators
insulated them from local municipal housing politics. Smaller
and more run-of-the-mill ‘provincial’ towns looked up to all these
as exemplars. To a councillour from the West Midlands town of
Halesowen, visiting London in 1960, Hackney Borough Council’s
fifteen-storey towers at Paragon Road (1957) ‘made his own
authority, which thought it was progressive, look like a snail which
had lost its way’. 5
The ‘canonical story’ of post-war housing architecture is
almost entirely focused on elite designers, in and around London.
In London, in 1945, flats in some form seemed unavoidable, despite
the general English (but not Scottish) distrust of urban flats.
The first post-war modernist council flats were designed by
young private practices reacting against stodgy interwar galleried
‘block dwellings’ in favour of a mainstream modernist approach,
using long slabs arranged in Zeilenbau groups. Examples
include the Hallfield estate by Denys Lasdun and Tecton (from
1949), or Powell & Moya’s Pimlico, from 1947. By the late 1940s,
however, many designers were clamouring that council housing
needed greater architectural diversity. In response, the ‘mixed
development’ concept emerged, picturesquely combining low
and high block types, including at least some terraced houses
and some towers. From 1950, the LCC designers led this initiative,
and all major estates became mixed developments, the
prime exemplars being at Roehampton: Alton East-Portsmouth
Road (from 1952–53, by the ‘soft’ faction, with point blocks and
red brick terraces) and Roehampton Lane (from 1955, with concrete
‘Corbusian’ slabs, by the ‘hards’). 6
Compared to the point block, slab blocks in the Gropius/
Hilberseimer tradition were less popular overall, despite the efforts
of the LCC Hard faction, and also of some private architects
such as Ernö Goldfinger, in his two inner London estates
in Paddington and the East End. From the later 1950s, however,
avant-garde housing designers (led by the Smithsons and others)
rejected both extremes (tower and slab) for a more complex
pattern of conglomerate designs—the leading example being
the Park Hill project in Sheffield, with its pioneering deck-access
network, designed by city architect Lewis Womersley’s famous
department—probably the only example of a top-rate leading
5 Miles Glendinning and
Stefan Muthesius, Tower Block
(London: Yale University
Press, 1994), p. 162.
6 Muthesius and Glendinning,
Towers for the Welfare State
(above, n. 4).
The Crux of Inward Development
development, such as nineteenth-century urban extensions, in
that the quality of their entire urban design can suffer from the
ill-considered replacement of even a few structural elements.
It is crucial to consider how post-war housing estates’ structural
urban design can be preserved, ensuring that future generations
can experience the urban design ideas and social ideals
of this era.
Protecting Structures Rather Than Objects
The Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites (ISOS) equips Switzerland
with a tool to consider and evaluate entire locations’ quality of
place, including their structural urban design attributes. In this
assessment, relationships between individual elements and
open spaces are more important than individual buildings. This
provides a basis for addressing urban densification and renewal
in post-war neighbourhoods, taking their structural urban
design and open space qualities into account. And yet the drive
for inward development is placing ISOS under pressure; the
current political debate frames it as an obstacle to inward development
rather than as a call to attend to the qualities of the
existing built environment. 5
The Stadtlandschaften verdichten publication launched
in 2018 draws on research departing from the initial thesis that
post-war neighbourhoods provide opportunities for urban densification,
even whilst handing their architectural and cultural
attributes on to posterity. 6
Assessing the quality of urban design and open space
before and after urban densification in German and Swiss best
practice case studies helped develop criteria and strategies to
redevelop these types of neighbourhoods whilst respecting
their characteristics in terms of design culture. Scrutiny of already
densified neighbourhoods revealed the importance of
developers’ awareness for the existing built environment’s qualities,
and the selection of adequate quality assurance procedures
such as architecture and urban design competitions.
Specifically, it emerged that, rather than preventing inward
development, instruments such as ISOS hinder inept, knee-jerk
5 ‘The Director of Building
Department of the Canton of
Zurich has […] expressed his
concern about the continuous
updating of ISOS for the
Canton of Zurich. He fears
challenges, particularly to the
implementation of the revised
RPG (Spatial Planning Act)
target for increased inward
development.’ ‘Der Baudirektor
des Kantons Zürich hat […]
seine Besorgnis über die
laufende Aktualisierung des
ISOS für den Kanton Zürich
befürchtet er insbesondere bei
der Umsetzung des mit dem
revidierten RPG erteilten
Auftrags einer verstärkten
innen.’ (Bundesamt für
Raumentwicklung ARE, ‘ISOS
und Verdichtung: Bericht der
Arbeitsgruppe’, 2016, p. 4,
(last accessed 28 November
6 Anke Domschky, Stefan
Kurath, Simon Mühlebach, and
Urs Primas, Stadtlandschaften
verdichten: Strategien zur
Erneuerung des baukulturellen
Erbes der Nachkriegszeit
(Zurich: Triest, 2018).
Urban Densification Destroys (Affordable)
Following the Stadtlandschaften verdichten publication, it became
apparent that certain housing policy issues had been
given insufficient attention. For example, it transpired that the
inept replacement of post-war neighbourhoods leads to a destruction
of affordable housing. This is because it is often forgotten
that apartments in post-war neighbourhoods are amongst
the cheapest because they are often either owned by cooperatives
who rent them out at cost (i.e. not for profit), or because
these older, smaller apartments do not justify high rents. 7
Emphasis is often placed on low-cost housing when housing
estates of this kind are replaced, and these efforts are fairly
successful in comparison to new, market-rate housing. However,
additional environmental, technological, and building regulations,
and the adaptation of layouts and space standards to
match today’s expectations, make rents considerably more
expensive than those of existing buildings. This drives residents
barely able to afford the new homes out of the neighbourhood.
A suitable strategy in this case is to replace only parts of the
neighbourhood. This helps maintain cheaper living space. Simultaneously,
bespoke housing offers can diversify neighbourhoods
and make them attractive for people of all ages and lifestyles.
This strategy also makes it possible to change homes
within the neighbourhood, with the advantage that residents
can stay in the neighbourhood if their personal living conditions
change. Providing people whose children have moved out with
smaller, less expensive apartments helps reduce the number of
under-occupied family apartments, facilitating a generational
change. 8 This strategy has the advantage of letting structurally
less significant elements of the development be replaced in
order to improve the neighbourhood’s overall urban design.
The replacement of buildings has revealed a further issue,
insufficiently explored in the Stadtlandschaften verdichten publication.
Investigating urban densification projects revealed that
a denser built fabric does not always result in more apartments
and residents in the neighbourhood. During the post-war period,
the main concern was to use limited funds to create new housing
for as many people as possible. Since then, increasing prosperity
has seen a manifold expansion in living space per capita.
Correspondingly, apartments in replacement buildings usually
7 As of 2017, Swiss average
rent levels according to period
of construction are lowest in
buildings built between 1946
and 1970. Cf. Schweizerische
für Statistik, ‘Durchschnittlicher
Mietpreis in Franken
nach Bauperiode und Zimmerzahl,
accessed 28 November 2019);
As of 2017, the difference in
average rent levels per square
metre is less pronounced, but
identifiable, between post-war
buildings and buildings
completed during the last ten
years. cf Schweizerische
für Statistik, ‘Durchschnittlicher
Mietpreis pro m2 nach
Bauperiode und Kanton’,
7346199.html (last accessed
21 January 2020).
8 See John Klepel’s contribution
to this volume.
The Crux of Inward Development
3 Bebelallee estate, Hamburg. At the Bebelallee housing estate, up
to two floors are added to existing buildings. The unchanged footprint
preserves trees and shrubs. Existing apartments are refurbished.
At double height, the altered buildings fundamentally change the
perception of open space.
consume significantly more floor space for the same number of
rooms. Frequently, the absence of occupancy regulations allows
one-person and two-person households to occupy four and
five-room apartments. This results in greater physical, but not
social density, which is diametrically opposed to inward development’s
actual objectives. The increasing consumption of land
and resources urgently necessitates an examination of living
space per capita, such as research into generously designed
apartments on small floor plans. Therefore, new-build redevelopment
actually only makes sense if it increases the number of
residents in the neighbourhood.
Some of the projects analysed in Stadtlandschaften verdichten
address the dual challenge of raising density in tune
with criteria for design culture whilst also protecting affordable
housing. It appears that new-build replacements are of limited
interest to owners of buildings in Germany because of protective
tenancy laws. For example, neither of the two Hamburg
case studies Bebelallee and Altenhagener Weg even took replacement
buildings into consideration. Instead, floors were
added on top of the existing structures and, in the case of
4 Tscharnergut estate, Bern. A three-metre extension of slabs to the
west allows buildings to be adapted to meet current energy and
earthquake safety requirements. No longer present as it existed before
densification, the original façade design is reinstated. This extension
also allows a diversification of housing stock.
Maintenance, Repair, and Renovation of the Finnish Post-War Housing Stock
1 Hilding Ekelund, apartment building at Pohjolankatu 43, Helsinki,
1952, before façade renovation.
phase, usually either led by architects or individually from architects
and engineers, and then for the actual renovation work
from building companies. Hence, no emphasis is put on quality
(contrary to public procurements) and the decisions are made
based on lowest costs only. When housing companies are doing
plumbing renovations, the main designer is usually an HPAC engineer,
which means that the architect has limited possibilities
to influence common repair principles and solutions.
As mentioned above, the practice of doing comprehensive renovations
has prevailed over the past decades. This means that
renovations usually include all technical fields; thus, residents
need to vacate their homes for six to twelve months. A benefit of
comprehensive renovation projects is that all the construction
work can be done at once, and the inconvenience for the residents
is minimised. The downside is that, in a comprehensive
renovation, the time and money available for design and building
2 Hilding Ekelund, apartment building at Pohjolankatu 43, Helsinki,
1952, after façade renovation by Arkkitehdit Mustonen Oy (2008–11).
is insufficient for designing and implementing all details with
sufficient care. A general rule is that the more comprehensive
the renovation project, the more likely it is that the authenticity
of the building will suffer and the quality of the details will be
bad. Careful explorations of alternatives and discussions of
principles are often lacking; only broad outlines are considered
and details and nuances are ignored. In comprehensive one-off
repairs, the buildings suffer.
The 2010s brought the principles of continuous maintenance
and repairs into consideration again. In particular, repairing
structural components and technical systems of buildings
constructed before the arrival of prefabrication, such as brick
laid on site piece by piece, has become more popular. This
approach is supported by the new Housing Companies Act,
which requires the boards of directors of limited liability housing
companies to update their short-term and long-term repair
1 Halbehof, historical view.
category includes the Steimker Berg executive housing estate
of the 1930s, and the Höfe worker housing built during the National-Socialist
era. In these monument groups, protection extends
to the urban layout, façades and open-air facilities, as well
as any interior elements pertaining to the monument, even if the
latter have often not (yet) been decisively recorded. Research
and conservation work on ancillary open spaces and elements
essential to the design of group monuments—and thus worthy
of protection—has also been inadequate.
More recent buildings, some of which are today considered
worthy of protection, have so far received little attention in
the designation of monuments. Individual monuments have been
added, but Lower Saxony’s State Office for Monument Preservation
has only recently initiated a systematic update. Therefore,
since 2006, Wolfsburg has kept a list of proposals for ‘Buildings
and sites of the 1960s and 1970s worth protecting’, but this is
not a legally binding instrument.
This paper will present three example strategies for housing
estates worthy of protection. These include the inner-city
Höfe neighbourhood (built during the city’s founding in the
2 Höfe, entrance detail, 2009.
National-Socialist years), the Wellekamp housing estate (built
during the years of growth and development), and Detmerode (a
satellite city typical of new urban design in the century of the ‘Athens
Charter’). The different strategies seek to exploit funding opportunities
whilst taking into account relevant legal circumstances.
Building work on the neighbourhood began when the city was
founded (in 1938) and ended four years later, making it one of
the first housing estates in Wolfsburg. 3 The development merges
garden city ideas with National-Socialist mass housing construction.
Its architecture features multi-storey blocks of flats
with continuous building lines, constant eave heights, and uniform
render façades. The entire complex conforms to a strict
axial design. Criss-crossed by their own network of pedestrian
and cycle paths, green courtyard spaces offered communal
areas and tenants’ allotments. 4 The two- to three-storey buildings
usually accommodate fifty-square-metre apartments of
two-and-a-half rooms, intended for a family of four.
3 Urban design: Peter Koller
4 Open space design: Wilhelm
5 View from Don Camillo tower block to the new Detmerode neighbourhood.
windows required only partial renewal. Another finding was that
the average cost of reconditioning even severely-damaged timber
box-type double windows was lower than that of replacing
them with completely new windows that complied with the preservation
order. The heritage value of refurbishing windows (seen
as expensive) and of refurbishing the estate as a whole requires
skilful advocacy in the current debate.
In the case of the listed Wellekamp housing estate, built for
Volkswagen factory workers in 1955–58, explaining the heritage
value of both the outdoor and indoor design is equally challenging.
10 The estate includes eight four-storey residential terraces
fanned out around a green centre, and one tower block. The
white volumes float above a dark plinth. Designed as affordable
housing for the lower middle class, and relatively small by today’s
standards (57 square metres), flats are now mainly inhabited by
pensioners. Façades and interiors are sparse, but nonetheless
10 Urban design: Paul
Landscape design: Walter
6 Detmerode, entrance detail, 2013.
very well thought through. Latter-day thermal insulation has
substantially altered the terraces’ original filigree design, which
featured steel bars accentuating windows and balconies.
Façades are currently being refurbished in order to re-instate
the strength of the original architectural design. Particular
attention is being paid to reclaiming even minor design details,
such as the distinctive window paintwork.
Parts of the building fabric (such as the flats’ spatial structure
and floor plan, the terrazzo floors in bathrooms, and the preserved
period doors) are also considered worthy of protection.
There are no plans to renovate entire terraces and, inasmuch as
a long-term plan is necessary, flats are only ever refurbished or
adapted to today’s requirements when tenants move out. An
overall implementation schedule is unfeasible, and approvals
are usually sought on an ad-hoc basis.
Lower Saxony’s State Office for Monument Preservation
has instigated further collaboration between the involved parties
in order to develop a monument protection strategy. This reflects
on housing refurbishments carried out to date, and identifies
Future Prospects for the Neue Vahr
1 The architect Richard Neutra visits Neue Vahr in June 1960.
after the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto is the highlight of the
Neue Vahr’s urban layout has hardly changed over the
last sixty years. Apart from a new shopping centre, there have
barely been any new buildings of note. And yet the neighbourhood’s
appearance has altered significantly: initially defined by
the buildings, its urban character is today dominated by lush
foliage, whilst buildings all but melt away into the well-tended
Neue Vahr was a sensation when it was built, not only
because of its size, but also because of its modern buildings and
urban design. It received much attention in professional circles.
For example, a surviving sequence of photos shows a delegation
headed by Richard Neutra viewing the recently completed development
with great enthusiasm.
Regular surveys reveal that Neue Vahr’s residents have
felt very comfortable in the neighbourhood, from the outset to
this day. 2 Long-established tenants refer to themselves as ‘Vahraonen’
(Vahraohs), identifying with the place and wanting to
keep almost everything as it is. And yet, as with many large housing
estates, perceptions of the Neue Vahr are not purely positive.
2 E.g. Neue Heimat, ed., ‘[…] am
Beispiel “Neue Vahr”: Dokumentation
der Arbeit des
Bürgerausschusses zur Umgestaltung
der Neuen Vahr, Bremen’
(Hamburg, 1972); Janpeter Kob,
Monika Kurth, Rüdiger Voss,
and Manfred Schulte-Altedorneburg,
in der Bewährung: Neue
Vahr Bremen: Lehren einer
Fallstudie, Beiträge zur Stadtund
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1972); Uwe Riedel,
Bernd Szemeitzke, Neue Vahr,
Bremen: Ökologische Wohnquartiersuntersuchung
Polis, 1992); IWS – Institut für
Wohnpolitik und Stadtökologie
e.V., proloco Stadt und Region,
Planung und Entwicklung,
Neue Vahr: Endbericht’
2 View of the park surrounding the Vahr lake.
In contrast to other apparently similar neighbourhoods, Neue
Vahr seems at first glance to be a well-functioning large housing
estate without the need for any major change. Nevertheless,
GEWOBA, which still owns most of the housing stock, initiated
an exceptionally broad-based, interdisciplinary development
process, unusual in many respects.
Why is this? CEO Peter Stubbe started the process by
asking the following questions: ‘What will the qualities of the
future be? Which issues need to be dealt with today in order to
prepare Neue Vahr for the next sixty years?’ 3 A major housing
estate designed as a Gesamtkunstwerk requires a well-considered
plan and long-term strategy for change. 4 Uncoordinated,
apparently insignificant additions and modifications can easily
unbalance the finely-tuned urban landscape, both spatially and
socially. To prevent this and ensure long-term stability, future
plans and scenarios were developed for the Neue Vahr’s further
development. These were intended to inform decisions, influence
specific projects, and help safeguard or even raise the
3 ‘Was werden die Qualitäten
der Zukunft sein? Was sind
die Themen, die heute
nachgefragt sind, um die
Neue Vahr auf die nächsten
60 Jahre vorzubereiten?’
(Jürgen Tietz et al., ‘Eine
sichere Bank für das bezahlbare
Wohnen in Bremen: Ein
Gespräch’, in Potenzial
Grosssiedlung, edited by
Katja-Annika Pahl, Iris
Reuther, Peter Stubbe, and
Jürgen Tietz (Berlin: Jovis,
2018), pp. 18–31, p. 19).
4 Cf. Sabine Kraft, ‘Die
gescheitertes Erbe der
Moderne?’, Arch+ 44, no. 203
(June 2011), pp. 48–53, p.
53; Hildebrand Machleidt,
‘Renaissance der Grosssiedlung?’,
no. 40–41 (31 October
2014), pp. 32–33, p. 32.
Conservation or Replacement of Large Housing Estates?
1 The Bijlmermeer in the municipal leaflet of 1968: high-rise blocks
in the park, as urban living for mankind of tomorrow.
2 Aerial view of the Bijlmermeer just after completion in the
The Glorious Ideas
Initially, the Bijlmermeer area was promoted as the most modern
place to live, as ‘a modern city where the people of today can
find the residential environment of tomorrow’ 2 . Between 1968
and 1975, architect Siegfried Nassuth supervised the construction
of 13,000 dwellings in 31 very large blocks, each ten storeys
high and housing 300 to 500 apartments. The buildings were
laid out in a honeycomb pattern. All the ideas of Le Corbusier
and the CIAM on modern living were applied: separating functions
(living, working, recreation), creating large park-like landscapes
between the apartment blocks, and separating traffic
flows through raised main roads (three metres above ground
level). The dwellings themselves were, and in some respects
still are, of a high standard: large floor space, luxurious sanitary
facilities, central heating, and their own store room. All the dwellings
were in the social rented sector, though not in its least expensive
segments. The planners aimed to attract households
with children and a middle-income.
2 Quoted in Frank Wassenberg,
Large Housing Estates:
Ideas, Rise, Fall and Recovery:
The Bijlmermeer and Beyond,
Sustainable Urban Areas 48
(Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2013),
Problems and First Measures
The Bijlmermeer is one of the most prominent examples of a
deteriorating housing estate. 3 The first problems appeared soon
after its completion, and rapidly multiplied in the following decades.
They can be divided into three groups. 4 Firstly, the district
was not finished. Many of the planned facilities (such as stores
and spaces for sport and recreation) were not delivered because
of funding shortages.
Second, there were enormous liveability problems. Numerous
uncontrollable semi-public and collective spaces such
as entrance lobbies, alleys, corridors, 13,000 ground level storage
spaces, 110 kilometres of galleries, and 31 parking garages,
turned out to be dangerous blind spots instead of cosy places
to meet friendly neighbours. Because the flats were in the hands
of sixteen different housing associations, all based in downtown
Amsterdam, management was chaotic. Accordingly, the most
important grievances uncovered in many resident surveys were
pollution, degradation, vandalism, and lack of safety. 5
Third, the Bijlmermeer did not properly respond to the
demands of the housing market. From the early 1970s onwards,
the envisaged inhabitants (middle-class families) preferred
3 There is abundant literature
explaining the process of area
deterioration. A helpful
overview is provided by Ellen
van Beckhoven, Gideon Bolt,
and Ronald van Kempen,
‘Theories of Neighbourhood
Change and Decline: Their
Significance for Post-WWII
Large Housing Estates in
European Cities’, in Mass
Housing in Europe: Multiple
Faces of Development, Change
and Response, edited by Rob
Rowlands, Sako Musterd, and
Ronald van Kempen (New
York: Palgrave Macmillan,
2009), pp. 20–50.
4 See Wassenberg, Large
Housing Estates (above, n. 3),
5 Ibid., pp. 157–65.
Conservation or Replacement of Large Housing Estates?
4 The situation in 1992 (left) and in 2010 (right, with Bijlmer Museum
marked), before and after physical renewal.
The physical renewal was supplemented both by socio-economic
measures and by intensified maintenance. Social renewal
strongly focused on job creation. Watchmen and policemen
patrolled more frequently. Pollution was reduced by an outdoor
underground garbage collection system, which replaced the
pungent containers in the internal streets within the blocks. Furthermore,
several consultation projects were carried out to engage
The relative location of the Bijlmermeer changed radically
from an isolated location into a hot spot. Since the mid-1980s,
various facilities have opened close by: a metro line to the city,
a major shopping centre, a new stadium for Ajax football club,
and large cinemas and theatres. Furthermore, an expensive office
area was built just opposite the railway station. These developments
helped to rebuild the image of the Bijlmermeer, generating
demand for extra housing and creating plenty of jobs at
Plans to renew the Bijlmermeer were made in close consultation
with the residents. By 2001, halfway through the operation,
all of its current residents (6,500) had been interviewed. 6
Although most of them were happy with their apartments, the
majority of residents in all but two blocks opted for replacing
6 Ibid., pp. 205, 208, 222.
their high-rise with other housing types. This vote became the
official plan. Residents’ applications for social housing were
given priority, no matter whether they intended to move to a
replacement building or to any other social housing accommodation
anywhere in the city. In addition, they received a lump sum
to cover their removal costs. Around two-thirds decided to move
to the newly built houses in the area. The popularity of the houses
built here in the 1990s certainly contributed to this result.
In 2002, shortly after the residents’ survey, the ‘Final Plan
of Approach’ for the urban renewal of the Bijlmermeer was approved.
It was almost completely delivered by 2012. Today, little
has remained of the characteristic honeycomb structure. More
than half of the original high-rise blocks have vanished, being
replaced by low-rise apartments and single-family houses. On
the whole, there are some 7 per cent more homes than before,
so neighbourhood density has increased.
In total, more than 1.6 billion euros have been invested in
the former high-rise estate. Within this, around 450 million euros
did not produce any returns, equating to approximately 35,000
euros per household. These figures include all physical and
management expenses, but not expenses for the social and
economic measures. The renewal was supported by a grant
from the European Communities URBAN fund for social-
That’s How It Works!
4 Sketch by Werner Wirsing, 1972.
for couples) set the spatial context for the southernmost arm
of Heinle, Wischer and Partner’s housing scheme (the men’s
village) and mediated between the elevated pedestrian platform
and the natural ground level.
The second, larger area comprised an extremely dense
low-rise settlement, accessible only to pedestrians, with a total
of 800 terraced homes set out in a north-south alignment. Wide
walkways, narrow side lanes, and diagonal alleys provided access,
forming squares and dividing the neighbourhood into five
areas. The 2.30-metre-wide lanes provided access and lighting
to homes on either side. Their semi-public character provided
ample opportunity for informal socialising.
Every student had their own two-storey mini-house and
roof terrace: each 24-square-metre studio (or 36-square-metre
double studio) housed a kitchen, bathroom and flexible living
area on the ground floor and a gallery and small roof terrace
above it. This arrangement was intended to meet the need for
individual living whilst also encouraging communication between
residents. The homes offered what Wirsing described
as ‘scope for individualisation’, 6 both indoors and outdoors.
6 ‘Spielräume zur Selbstgestaltung’
‘Rekonstruktion als Ensembleschutz’,
Tec21 133, no. 35
(27 August 2007), pp. 55–61,
5 Four original dwellings and new-build under construction, 2008.
Students could sleep and work on either level, fill the alleyways
with greenery, and decorate roof terraces and façades
according to their own tastes.
Wirsing’s radical reinterpretation of student housing soon
became an enduring success on the Munich market for student
housing, and it remains an outstanding example of minimalist
living in the present day.
Conservation by Demolition
Built under extreme time pressure, and typical of their era, the
simple, partially prefabricated buildings 7 had deteriorated badly
thirty years after completion: roofs leaked, the majority of
the insulation in external walls had become damp and caused
mould, and heating and water pipes in the ground beneath the
houses had fractured in many places. 8 The student union appointed
two experts to carry out preliminary investigations for
the inevitable restoration of the complex. Meanwhile, Wirsing
was commissioned to carry out refurbishment and densification
studies—partly for copyright reasons, but also because
7 A mixed heavy concrete
system was selected, whereby
prefabricated elements for
horizontal structural elements
and façade panels (4.20 by
3.00 metres) were cast in an
on-site field factory, and
vertical structural elements
were cast in situ using
large-scale steel formwork.
Plastic bathrooms were
specially developed for the
construction project. See ‘Das
Olympische Dorf der Frauen’,
Sonderband, no. 3 (1972),
pp. 30–31, p. 30.
8 Kammann, ‘Rekonstruktion
als Ensembleschutz’ (above,
n. 6), p. 57.
That’s How It Works!
The new design reduced individual houses’ grid span from from
4.20 to 3.15 metres, thereby raising density and making homes
compliant with contemporary funding guidelines for student
accommodation, which limit individual living space including
bathrooms to a maximum of 18 square metres. 13 The complex
has gained 252 homes as a result. Now fitted with single-skin
external walls and internal insulation, the 1,052 new mini-homes
were built using modular, prefabricated concrete elements. Cellars
for one row of houses in each site section accommodate
plant rooms and bicycle storage, as well as access tunnels and
media ducts to the other rows of houses. Reducing individual
homes by nearly nine square metres has resulted in a complete
reconfiguration of floor plans. Double-height voids and walk-in
wardrobes have been eliminated in favour of an additional window
and a more spacious upper floor. Moving bathrooms and
open kitchenettes to the rear area has enabled the two living
levels to be used more freely, with the more private area now
upstairs. A show home was built in 2007 to test the houses’
functionality and design.
Previously occupied by a square, steel complex of telephone
booths, the heart of the development is now home to a
large, cantilevered roof which residents refer to as ‘the petrol
station’. At its rear, a functional block separates this area from
neighbouring housing, and accommodates a kitchen, storage
rooms and WC facilities. The redevelopment of this area has
made it more versatile for joint activities.
The landscaping by Keller Damm Rose elaborates on
what was already in place, picking up on distinctive elements
such as concrete planting rings, planting strips along terraced
houses and paving materials, and adding some elements such
as new tree clusters. Houses now boast green roofs. The houses’
colour scheme and Stauss+Pedrazzini’s wayfinding system
draw inspiration from Otl Aicher’s design guidelines for the 1972
Olympics. 14 Overhauling and updating the original design has
addressed its functional weaknesses. For example, house numbers
originally grouped in blocks are now sorted alphabetically
by alleyway. 15
Ten years down the line, the new ‘Olydorf’ is well-loved
and has proved itself in use: open front doors, homemade furniture,
plant pots, and benches between homes testify to its
12 Ritz Ritzer, telephone
interview with the author on
21 August 2019.
13 Bavarian funding guidelines
for student housing.
14 Kilian Stauss and Josef
Grillmeier, ‘Massstab Design:
Spiele München 72’, in
Olympiapark München, edited
by Stefanie Hennecke, Regine
Keller, and Juliane Schneegans
(Berlin: Jovis, 2013), pp. 52–73.
Reprint of design guidelines:
Otl Aicher, Richtlinien und
Normen für die visuelle
für die Spiele der XX.
Olympiade München 1972
(Salenstein: Niggli, 2019).
15 Beate Kling and Torsten
Krüger, Signaletik: Orientierung
im Raum (Munich:
Detail, 2012), pp. 14–17.
16 Wirsing, interview (above,
n. 9), p. 132.
popularity. Colourful murals and luscious, planted alleyways
abound once again, albeit more strictly regulated than before.
The core idea (rather than the original substance) of this
housing scheme has been preserved and further developed.
This idea is manifest in the urban structure, in open spaces, and
in the typology of residential buildings as well as in the ‘social
gene code’, 16 the communal idea typical of so many of Wirsing’s
projects. Wirsing’s involvement in the design created ideal conditions
for successfully putting this approach into practice. Preserving
the core idea was crucial both because the housing
complex forms an integral part of the seminal Olympic Park
estate, and because—despite its great success as a form of
student housing—it remained without followers for fifty years.
Preserving the Legacy of Álvaro Siza
1 Sketch by Álvaro Siza, 1974.
The Siza Way of Preservation
In recent years, Álvaro Siza has been heavily committed to the
preservation of some of his own early works, including the Boa
Nova Tea House and Restaurant (1958–63; 1992; 2012–14), the
Bouça Housing Complex (1975–78; 2000–06), the Faculty of
Architecture of the University of Porto (1985–92; 2016–18), the
Swimming Pool at Quinta da Conceição (1958–65; 2016–18),
and, more recently, the Swimming Pool in Leça (1960–66;
The conservation of the Boa Nova Tea House and Restaurant
in 1992 was his first intervention on a former work and, in
his own words, was an important experience for his following
works on pre-existing buildings. 4 After his first intention of making
changes to the original design (designed by a much younger
4 Álvaro Siza, ‘Conferencia
para el CAH2’, in Intervention
Approaches in the 20th Century
CAH20thC. Madrid Document
2011, edited by J. M. Hernández
León and F. Espinosa De Los
Monteros (Madrid: Ministerio
de Educación, Cultura y
Deporte, 2011), p. 186.
2 General plan with phase I in yellow, 1973–78.
self), Siza was then able to recognise the building’s value and
coherence as a whole. He thus resisted the temptation to correct
his own work, and decided to maintain the original design,
arguing that ‘in a rehabilitation there is a mandatory requirement,
which is […] absolute integrity. No changes should be performed
[…] unless extremely necessary’. 5
In 2012, twenty years after his first conservation of the
Boa Nova Tea House and restaurant, Siza was called on to
perform a second intervention for the preservation of the building
after it had been abandoned and vandalised. In these recent
works, Siza preserved or reproduced all the exterior and interior
features, with the exception of updating the services (toilets
and kitchens) and technical infrastructures. Additionally, because
of the maritime location, the property required repairs to
the concrete as a result of spalling and cracking caused by
0 20 40 100 m
5 Ibid., pp. 186–88.
Preserving the Legacy of Álvaro Siza
6 Exterior view of phase II.
ground floor windows and closed balconies on the upper floors. 15
Also, small updates were made in the dwellings: the social area
is now more open, with the kitchen part of the living room, a
sliding door between the dining area and the living room serves
to increase functional flexibility, the WC is separated from the
bathroom, and the size of the winter gardens is reduced. 16 Moreover,
underground parking was added to accommodate the increased
number of private cars.
These updates to the original design also took into account
new construction technologies (concrete blocks were
replaced by reinforced concrete sheets), as well as current standards
of comfort and energy consumption. 17 While the interior
finishes and the window frames were made from materials identical
to the original ones, the exterior coatings were modified to
improve thermal performance, through the use of the External
Thermal Insulation Composite System (ETICS) in the façades. 18
Although the use of ETICS may change the modernist morphology
and aesthetics profoundly, in this case Siza managed to
reduce its impact on the building’s appearance.
We can conclude that this recent project retains the typological
characteristics and the internal organisation of the
houses, specifically in terms of access, interior circulation, and
the relationship between the kitchen and the common areas.
These constitute an outstanding characteristic of the design
and are one reason why La Bouça is still discussed within the
context of national and international post-war architecture. 19
From an early stage, this work was considered a masterpiece
by renowned international and national architectural critics, and
it is now listed in the Heritage Map of the Municipal Masterplan
of Porto, as well as in other national inventories such as SIPA, 20
IAP20, 21 and the World Heritage Tentative List. 22
This paper has focused on the survival of post-war architecture,
and, in particular, on the legacy of Alvaro Siza and his contributions
to the design and preservation of his own post-war modernist
housing. Having been heavily committed in recent years
to working on the built heritage, including several of his own
projects, 23 Siza maintains that in ‘conservation there is a compulsory
requirement, which is […] absolute integrity. No changes
16 Wang, ‘Bouça and Public
Housing at the Beginning of
the 21st Century’ (above, n. 9),
17 Pimenta do Vale, ‘The Social
Rise of a Housing Intervention’
(above, n. 12), p. 10.
18 Ibid., p. 11.
19 Nuno Grande and Roberto
Cremascoli, eds., Neighbourhood:
Where Alvaro Meets Aldo
(Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017).
20 Patrimonio Cultural, ‘Bairro
da Bouça / Bairro SAAL da
Bouça / Conjunto Habitacional
da Bouça – IPA.00025032’,
aspx?id=25032 (last accessed
2 April 2020).
21 IAP20, ‘nº 100223’, http://
default.aspx (last accessed
2 April 2020).
22 Permanent Delegation of
Portugal to UNESCO, ‘Ensemble
of Álvaro Siza’s Architecture
Works in Portugal’ (above,
23 Teresa Cunha Ferreira,
‘Conservation of 20th-Century
Architecture in Portugal: The
Lesson of Álvaro Siza’, in Metamorphosis:
The Continuity of
Change, Proceedings of the
15th International Docomomo
Conference, edited by Ana
Tostões and Nataša Koselj
(Ljubljana: Docomomo, 2018),
1-Zi 1-rm Whg apt. 2-rm 2-Zi Whgapt. 3-rm 3-Zi Whgapt. 4-rm 4-Zi Whg apt. 5-rm 5-Zi Whg apt. 6-rm 6-Zi Whg apt.
2 Kit of flats, conceptual diagram.
sites in the neighbourhood, and a third location was found. In
order to achieve an intergenerational balance, the initial two new
buildings provide housing aimed primarily at existing neighbourhood
residents. The third Bremer Punkt accommodates an inclusive
group housing project, bringing a new initiative to the
The first three Bremer Punkt buildings were completed
by February 2017. Special attention was paid to making the
subsidised two- and three-room flats as varied and comfortable
as possible. At 44 and 58 square metres, the smallest flats are
affordable and offer an above-average standard through timber
construction, generous openings, spacious private outdoor areas,
barrier-free access, optimum south-west orientation, and
up-to-date, sustainable building technology. Reducing circulation
space to a minimum and overlapping uses such as living,
cooking and eating makes for space-efficient homes, without
precluding high-quality spaces. The recessed balconies become
an integral part of the apartments thanks to the room-height
glazing. Thus, they form a spatial unit with the interiors. As an
interface between indoor and outdoor space, access balconies
provide spaces for residents to meet and options to bridge to
53m²/40m² 107`m² 40m²/42m²
Bremer Punkt 1-3
Bremer Punkt 4
Bremer Punkt 5 Bremer Punkt 6
53m²/40m² 107`m² 40m²/42m²
Bremer Punkt 6 Bremer Punkt 7
3 Kit of flats, floor plan variations.
4 Bremer Punkt 1, Gartenstadt Süd.
existing buildings. The free arrangement of generous, square
openings creates an interplay of mass and lightness, which lends
the compact structure a varied expression. Reflecting the cubes’
heterogeneous interiors, their façades convey a new image of
the neighbourhood. Depending on the mix of flats, the Bremer
Punkt presents an individual façade at each new site. Varied
colour schemes, accentuated façade areas, and a variety of
parapets create additional character and support the sense of
Timber Element Construction
The Bremer Punkt’s modular design is mainly based on prefabricated
components. This makes it possible to vary floor plan
sizes and layouts. The modular construction allows buildings to
be built very quickly, with minimal site equipment. Relocating
some construction work to the factory hall significantly reduces
the impact of noise and dirt on the neighbourhood. The Gartenstadt
Süd prototypes were erected within four weeks. Semi-precast
concrete elements are positioned to create the access
5 Bremer Punkt 1, Gartenstadt Süd.
areas as soon as the floor slab is in place. This safeguards structural
bracing and the first escape route. Next, prefabricated,
timber-frame loadbearing exterior wall elements are delivered
and aligned floor by floor. Insulation, windows, sunshades, and
cladding are preassembled in the factory. Depending on the site,
reinforced concrete or composite timber-concrete floor panels
are used. The building envelope is sealed and fully insulated as
soon as the shell is completed. Interior fitting is then finished,
regardless of weather conditions.
The timber structure uses a renewable, climate-friendly
building material. From the extraction of raw materials through
to their disposal, this consumes much less grey energy than brick
or concrete. The highly insulated building envelope almost reaches
passive house standard. A nearly self-sufficient in-house photovoltaic
system and air-to-water heat pump with buffer storage
covers electricity and heating demand. A low-temperature underfloor
heating system ensures comfort and contributes to
energy efficiency. The Bremer Punkt meets the KfW55 energy
standard and is certified according to the Verein zur Förderung
der Nachhaltigkeit im Wohnungsbau e.V. (NaWoh) system.
Mark Escherich completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter.
He has studied civil engineering, architecture and art history. In
2008, he completed his doctorate in urban history. Since 2008,
he has collaborated with the monument protection authority for
Erfurt, and since 2011 he has also collaborated with the Chair
for Heritage Conservation and Architectural History at the Bauhaus-Universität
Weimar (teaching and research). Since 2016,
he has been a council member of the DFG-Research Training
Group 2227 Identity and Heritage. Since 2019, he has been a
visiting professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning,
University of Applied Sciences, Erfurt.
Teresa Cunha Ferreira holds a degree from the Faculty of Architecture
at the University of Porto (FAUP) and European PhD at
the Polytechnic of Milan (2009). She has professional experience
in Heritage Public Offices such as DGEMN in Porto and SPBAP
in Milan, among other consultancy and works. Since 2007, she
has been teaching in the Polytechnic of Milan 2007–08, School
of Architecture of the University of Minho 2009–17 and FAUP
(2012–present). In 2009, she joined the Centre for Studies in
Architecture and Urbanism (CEAU). She is member of the Board
of ICOMOS-Portugal (and member of ICOMOS ISC20C).
Nicole Froberg studied architecture at the TU Braunschweig.
As a freelancer, she collaborated with the City of Wolfsburg on
several projects. Starting in 2001, she set up and managed the
architectural forum of the City of Wolfsburg, which focuses on
architectural communication. She was responsible for communication
in the context of the Phaeno Science Centre by Zaha
Hadid. In 2010, she took over the direction of the office of the
Netzwerk Baukultur in Lower Saxony. Since 2018, she heads
the department for heritage conservation and building culture
of the City of Wolfsburg.
Miles Glendinning is Director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation
Studies and Professor of Architectural Conservation
at the University of Edinburgh. He has published extensively on
modernist and contemporary architecture and housing, and on
Scottish historic architecture in general: his books include the
award-winning Tower Block (with Stefan Muthesius) and The
Conservation Movement. His current research is focused on the
international history of mass housing, especially in Hong Kong.
Martin Hahn studied geography, art history, and preservation
of monuments in Marburg and Bamberg. He earned his Ph.D. at
the Technical University of Berlin. Since 2000, he has been a
consultant for urban monument preservation in the State Conservation
Office Baden-Württemberg. Since 2018, he has also
been head of the department for the listing of historic structures.
In addition, Martin Hahn teaches Preservation of Monuments at
the Universities of Applied Sciences Nürtingen and Stuttgart.
Maren Harnack is an architect, urban planner and professor for
urban design at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. She
studied architecture, urban design and social sciences in Stuttgart,
Delft and London. In 2011, she published her Ph.D. dissertation
Rückkehr der Wohnmaschinen. Sozialer Wohnungsbau
und Gentrifizierung in London. In 2018, she and her colleagues
founded the Post-War Modernist Housing Research Lab at
Frankfurt UAS. Her research revolves around large-scale housing
in Western Europe.
Natalie Heger is an architect and postdoc at the Post-War Modernist
Housing Research Lab at Frankfurt University of Applied
Sciences. She is co-founder of the interdisciplinary cooperative
u Lab, Studio für Stadt und Raumprozesse. She studied architecture
in Berlin and Barcelona. She taught and researched for
over ten years at the University of Kassel’s faculty of Architecture,
Urban Planning and Landscape Planning. Her work focuses on
Housing, processes in planning and methods of architectural
John Klepel is an architect and researches building typologies
at TU Berlin (with Professor Finn Geipel). Since 2009, he has
been the manager for brownfield regeneration/redensification
housing projects at LIN Architects and Urbanists, Berlin. Aside
from the Bremer Punkt, design projects completed in post-war
housing estates include improvements and work to raise density
in Munich’s Fürstenried West area and the Typen-Wohnhochhaus,
a modular, flexible tower block prototype in Berlin.
© 2020 by jovis Verlag GmbH
Texts by kind permission of the authors.
Pictures by kind permission of the photographers/holders of the picture
All rights reserved.
Cover: Hirschsprung housing estate, Dreieich-Sprendlingen, 1956–63,
photo Ben Kuhlmann.
Design and setting: Felix Holler (Stoffers Grafik Design, Leipzig)
Lithography: Torge Stoffers, Stefan Rolle (Stoffers Grafik Design, Leipzig)
Printed in the European Union
Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche
Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the
Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de
Forschungslabor Baukultur und Siedlungsbau der Nachkriegsmoderne
at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
jovis Verlag GmbH
jovis books are available worldwide in select bookstores. Please contact
your nearest bookseller or visit www.jovis.de for information concerning
your local distribution.