Resulting from the initiative between the Werkbund and city authorities, the model housing estate was erected by the Wrocław Housing Estate Association SA on the grounds adjacent to the following present-day streets: Wróblewskiego, Tramwajowa, Dembowskiego, Zielonego Dębu andKopernika. The experimental project demonstrating the types and sizes of the flats, and the techniques and construction materials was created in co-operation with the National Research Association for the Economy of Architecture and Housing – The RFG.
The main aim of the housing estate was to show new types of affordable small and medium-sized flats which were of significant social importance at the time. Inevitably, this meant also presenting new forms of housing, new technologies and construction materials. The housing estate owes it general layout to Adolf Rading and Heinrich Lauterbach.
The project initially assumed that the exhibition would consist of thirty-seven buildings – detached houses, semi-detached houses, Single-family terraced houses , a high-rise block of flats, a hostel and a kindergarten. Five of the inital projects were not carried out. The exhibition presented 103 small flats (45-60m2) and twenty-nine larger housing units.
The surroundings of the houses were also part of the exhibition: garden spaces for public use as well as private house gardens, designed by landscape architects.

The organisers of the exhibition invited eleven architects, giving them full artistic freedom: Paul Heim, Albert Kempter, Theodor Effenberger, Ludwig Moshamer, Heinrich Lauterbach, Paul Häusler, Moritz Hadda, Emil Lange, Gustav Wolf, as well as Hans Scharoun and Adolf Rading who had already taken part in the Stuttgart exhibition.

The process of construction took only three months. The interiors of all the houses were opened to the public and could be visited. After the exhibition closed, the estate became an artistic district. The new houses, hailed as “ultramodern” by conservative circles, were occupied predominantly by the employees of the Academy of Art, architects, singers and writers. Among others, they were: Günter Grundmann (in the hotel house by Hans Scharoun), Johannes Molzahn, Gerhard Neumann, Robert Bednorz, Georg Muche (in the high-rise apartment building by Adolf Rading), Johannes Drobek (in the gallery-access building by Paul Heim and Albert Kempter), Heinrich Lauterbach (in the terraced house no. 15 designed by himself), Oskar Schlemmer (former Bauhaus teacher, in the terraced house no. 14, he also had his studio in the Rading’s house), Hans Scharoun and Theo Effenberger (in their respective houses from 1926, located opposite the housing estate).

Paul Häusler, one of the designers of the estate, gave his opinion about the aim of building model houses: “What shall we aim for? At the sun, for fresh air, for living space and beside that, for a fine interior design when it comes to its technical and sanitary conditions.”

Function, layout and furnishing
The housing estate can be divided into two parts: one presenting multifamily houses of different types; another presenting detached and semi-detached houses. Facing a lack of accommodation and the world crisis it was crucial to create ideas for affordable flats and find inexpensive construction methods. Many different functional solutions and house layouts were presented. The architects made an effort to plan bedrooms for each resident of a house, separated from the others; and on the other hand, the living room was connected to other rooms for day activities. The bedrooms and the living rooms were situated along the east-west axis – a very ahead-of-the-times concept.

Hans Scharoun presented an all-new hotel housing type of accommodation for singles and childless couples (no. 31). The concept of raising young people in the sense of togetherness was an inspiration for Adolf Rading who designed house no. 7. Many of the functions of the house were “socialised” in order to grant the residents more time for work, study or fun. The model house by Gustav Wolf was a multi-storey block of flats. The intention of the architect was to design flats which would have the advantages of detached houses: separate entrances, individual staircases and basements.

The main advantage of the gallery-access block of flats by Paul Heim and Albert Kempter (no. 1) is the reduced communication aspect (one staircase for six flats on each floor entered from the gallery, which altogether makes12 x 48m2 and 6 x 60m2). The galleries are located towards the West and the living rooms and bedrooms towards the East. Heim and Kempter’s gallery-access block of flats had not been seen in Silesian architecture before: it was a test to see if such a construction would prove itself the unique climate of Eastern Germany.Paul Heim and Albert Kempter also designed the new kindergarten based on the “Fröbel” and “Montessori” methods (no. 2) and could accommodate sixty children.. It was a ground-floor building with a wooden façade, its main room was located centrally and had extra skylights located in the part of the roof protruding upwards from a flat roof. The main room was surrounded by smaller rooms for groups of children.

The next option for tenement housing is a terraced block of flats (no. 9-22) with small flats of 48m2 to 90m2 which was divided into segments designed by different architects. The corner segment by Emil Lange has a staircase exploiting four flats upstairs, which allowed him to make a saving of 40% of the surface area allotted for communication uses.The remaining segments, designed by Ludwig Moshamer (no. 10-12), Heinrich Lauterbach (no. 3-15), Motitz Hadda (no. 16-17), Paul Häusler (no. 18-20) and Theodor Effenberger (no. 21-22) constitute a complex of very plain and economical housing units. They have similar sizes but different internal layouts. Downstairs there are the living rooms with kitchens and terraces connecting them to the gardens, upstairs there are the bedrooms with bathrooms. Only the corner segments (no. 21-22) have larger flats (no. 21 – 148.86 m2, no. 22 –94.2 m2), including one with a workshop.
The detached houses presented similar solutions. They offered a higher standard than the tenement flats, a surface of more than 150 m2, an effective architectural form and a well-conceived layout. In all of them the “day” zone is separate from the “night” zone. Rading believed that “ahouse that is not open to the garden, the air and the sun is an absurdity”. All the single-family detached houses presented this idea with massive glazing aspects facing the gardens. There were still more innovative solutions: large terraces located at garden level or on the roofs of the buildings, the option of connecting two rooms with a glass or an accordion door in most of the houses, or positioning a part of a building on supports to make the construction far less costly by omitting the basement.

Architectural form
Even though the Wrocław model housing estate was presented as an example of functionalism in the 20s, understood as an architectural trend giving solutions in the form of plain bodied houses, it was not stylistically unified. Functionalism was not a uniform trend. It is not an easy task to point out individual houses as different formal trends since they have features allowing them to be associated with either the functionalism of strict geometrical divisions, the “international style”, “organic architecture”, “white architecture” or the trend of “colourful cities” (“Die Farbige Stadt”).
Very often functionalism is regarded synonymously with the so-called “international style”, with its white-plastered cubes and natural links to Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe or Walter Gropius. Only a few buildings from WUWA fit this category and they are: the eight-unit tenement house by Gustav Wolf (no. 3-6), the gallery-access block of flats by Paul Heim and Albert Kempter (no. 1) and the terraced houses (no. 9-22). These are plain, simple-bodied constructions, without any decoration, mainly functional but not artistic pieces.
The trend of a functionalism with geometrical diversities was represented by the following elegant yet geometrically strict buildings: the house no. 7 by Adolf Rading, the detached or semi-detached houses no. 26-27 by Theo Effenberger, no. 28 by Emil Lange and no. 29-30 by Paul Häusler.
A good example of “organic architecture” is Scharoun’s building (no. 31). It was undoubtedly the most exciting building of the exhibition. The large glazing panels and terraces – in the gardens or on the roofs – gave the effect of an interpenetration between the interior and the exterior of Scharoun’s house. The external form of the house, determined by the interior layout, was highly influenced by the architecture of ocean liners.
The detached houses by Heinrich Lauterbach (no. 35), Moritz Haddy (no. 36) and Ludwig Moshamer (no. 37) presented a similar philosophy, nonetheless they were criticised by orthodox functionalists as being too extravagant in their form. The arc shape was used in both the projection and the body of the building, which made the exterior much more attractive. Such solutions were called “the sun seeking houses” because thanks to wide glazed cylinder-shaped walls, protruding from the façade, a maximised inflow of sun light to the living rooms was ensured at any time of the day.
The only house that was very different from the rest of the buildings was the semi-detached house by Gustav Wolf (no. 32-33) which was the only house with a pitched roof: recalling the rural houses designed by Paul Schmitthenner with whom Wolf had collaborated. Wolf criticised the Wrocław buildings which displayed extravagant forms since he believed that they missed the point of the exhibition which was to present affordable houses, which were suitable for mass production.

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