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Britz Horseshoe Estate

Berlin, Germany
1 of 9

The residential estate in Britz, a district in the south of Berlin, which is better known as the "horseshoe estate" because of the shape of the central element of the complex, was built from 1925-33 (in seven construction stages) to plans by Bruno Taut. The over 1000 flats are standardised with just four floor plans. All buildings are connected as rows, and each terraced house has its own tenant's garden (which origi­nally also applied within the horseshoe). Martin Wagner designed the residential block at Stavenhagener Strasse 4-32 with the pro­m­inent staircases.

To avoid monotony, individual blocks were set forward or back, spaces widened out to plazas, buildings set in rows with symmetry and variety and especially colour - the cheapest design element - were used as instruments to give each street its own character.

The "functional" and necessarily simple architecture was often ef­fective because of its details. Where the details are changed - with ­recessed windows instead of windows with glazing bars, rough plaster instead of smooth, new colours, new doors, new paving slabs etc. - this often removes the artistic value and effect. Only those with an eye for detail will discover the charm of this architecture - and discover with sorrow how often the buildings on the estate have been disfigured by small alterations.