The colour scheme
It is hard to discuss this topic regarding the Werkbund exhibition, as there is insufficient data on its colour schemes. Not even the slightest fragments of the original colours were left in most of the WUWA houses. Already before the war, some of the buildings had been re-plastered. The only pieces of reliable information come from the pre-war professional press. On the other hand however, a paint layer testing was carried out in Hans Scharoun’s house which made it possible to determine precisely what colour scheme was used by the architect.
Ilse Molzahn wrote about a “glistening white housing estate”. Gustav Wolf also mentioned the uniformity of colour schemes. He believed that the architects accepted the preference for light colours inside and outside, from white to light pastel shades. The buildings of the Wrocław estate can indeed be considered examples of “white architecture” which was spreading in popularity across Europe at the beginning of the 30s. Heinrich Lauterbach’s house no. 35 confirms this concept. It was arranged in white, black and many shades of grey in which red bookcases and a yellow table were placed, which created a brave and lively contrast. We also know the colour scheme of a multifamily house no. 7 by Adolf Rading. The architect applied three contrasting colours: white, black and red. Using these saturated colours, he divided the rooms into functional sections. To achieve this he not only used the wall surfaces, but also the ceiling which he painted black.

A totally different colour scheme was presented by Hans Scharoun in his house for singles and childless couples (no. 31). This architect worked in an unconventional way avoiding to adopt any dogmatism. He left CIAM shortly after it was founded in protest against the doctrinal rationalism of Le Corbusier and the ideology of international architecture. That is why his works are one of a kind, not copying any formulaic schemes of the international style. Scharoun had a casting vote when it came to the colour schemes. The paint layer testing showed that during the decoration stage he changed his mind and as a result, the building was painted light ochre (“luminous”). All elements of the planking, the external balustrades, the window and door joinery, and metal trellis on the left wing roof were painted a warm mousey-coloured grey. Only the balcony doors of the right wing were the same colour as the façade, namely, light ochre. The reinforced concrete construction for climbing plants on the left wing roof was orange-red, while the reinforced concrete elements of the foundation and retaining walls were left bare and the natural colour of concrete.

WuWa after 1945
After WWII Wrocław became part of the Polish territory. Fortunately the war activities did not cause any major damage to the housing estate. After the war these houses were occupied by people who had been relocated to an unknown and a largely devastated city. Considering those conditions, it would have been unlikely they could fully appreciate the inherent advantages of this ultra-modern architecture since they came from areas with a totally different architectural heritage. In addition to that, the reality of day-to-day circumstances made it impossible to focus on other aesthetic matters.

Luckily after the war there were few changes introduced to the form of the houses. However, even before the war some of the houses underwent slight changes (e.g. house no. 28 by Emil Lange, where the space under the supported part of the house was closed and a terrace was built to access the garden from the house side). Only some of the houses were substantially changed after the war. The majority of the houses still exist and are occupied. The ones which didn’t survive were the two-family semi-detached house by Gustav Wolf (no. 32/33) which was demolished after the war, and the kindergarten by Paul Heim and Albert Kempter (no. 2) which burnt down in 2006 – it was restored according to the original project in 2013.

Major changes to the façade and body of the buildings were introduced in only three of them. In house no. 22 by Theodor Effenberger an additional floor was built over the former ground-floor part. Changes in the body of the house no. 7 by Adolf Rading were the most significant as they substantially altered the then extravagant appearance. Nowadays, however, it has become a shadow of its former self. The external anterooms were knocked down, the space between the two sections in the eastern side of the building was built up, the original shape of the windows and top floor were altered (the terraces and the workshops). House no. 35 was rebuilt after it had been damaged during the war. It was divided into two single-family sections and above one of them an additional floor was built.
The buildings have generally not changed their primary functions. Exceptions are house no. 7 by Adolf Rading (a former tenement house, today a hall of residents) and house no. 31 by Hans Scharoun (a former house for singles and childless couples, today a hotel).
The landscape around the buildings also played a vital role in the architects’ concept of the estate – but as time has passed, it has gone through some unfavourable changes. Many of the trees are in very bad condition and are located in quite unfortunate places.A prime example of a reckless decision made in the estate was to build a new kindergarten in the central public green space and to build a detached house on a plot at no. 23 Tramwajowa Street which previously was a part of the terraced development.
WuWA today
Today it goes without saying that the WuWA housing estate is one-of-a-kind on the European landscape. The Wrocław architectural community already appreciated its significance in the 70s: in 1972 house no. 31 by Hans Scharoun was entered into the Wrocław City Register of Monuments, and in 1979 the remaining houses were added, which meant that their functions, construction and construction technologies, as well as the external and internal form of the buildings were protected from that point on. On March 28th, 2007 the whole urban complex of the WuWA housing estate was entered into the register of monuments. As a consequence, the general conservation rule adopted for this estate was to fully restore the houses and the surroundings while keeping the original layout of the old exhibition area.

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