saai | Archive for Architecture and Engineering

Digital Collection Egon Eiermann

Neue Heimat housing project
1946-1949

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Neue Heimat housing project

When Egon Eiermann began planning the Gückelberg housing project for the town of Buchen in 1946, there was a heavy demand for new housing. The population had grown by more than 60 percent since 1939, due mainly to the rehousing of refugees from the East. Eiermann faced very tough starting conditions. Only very limited financial resources were available, and the situation in the construction market was difficult. Many construction materials were strictly rationed, and there was a shortage of transport vehicles and skilled workers.

For the housing project, Eiermann devised one and two story model houses (for one and two families), each for five to seven people. Despite their tiny dimensions, they were designed to provide maximum quality of living. The original construction program comprised twenty-one one-family homes. However, it feil through in early 1947 as a result of opposition from the Buchen town council. Due to difficulty in obtaining construction materials, in the end only five houses were built between 1947 and 1949, with Neue Heimat as the client.

To keep costs down and save materials, ceiling heights were severely restricted and the houses were built with only partial cellars and gently sloping gabled roofs. The walls were built from unfired clay bricks, a building material of which there was an unlimited supply. They were faced with brick cladding to keep out the damp.

Unlike, for example, Otto Bartning in his contemporaneous clay brick housing project in Neckarsteinach, and contrary to the view of conservative architectural circles, Eiermann deliberately refrained from following rural models. Instead, he tried to create a new type of architecture that did not come across as modern but was distinguished by "simplicity and disciplined regularity." Thus, the walls are not rendered, but clad in applied masonry of bricks laid in a basket-weave pattern that Eiermann had used several times before in earlier buildings. Instead of glazing bars, the windows have only vertical divisions and are flush with the external wall. Additionally, in place of the prescribed steep gable roof, Eiermann opted for one with a relatively low pitch.

The houses are also unconventional in terms of layout.

While the living and dining areas as shared spaces are relatively generously proportioned, the three bedrooms are small. Eiermann designed them like that to comply with the wish for children of different sexes to have separate rooms. Instead of the popular kitchen-cum-living-room, there is a working kitchen that is linked with the dining area by a hatch. The small bathroom directly adjoins the kitchen, so that a single water supply and drainage system sufficed, saving additional costs. And since many newcomers had no furniture of their own, the apartments were fitted out with simple built-in furniture to Eiermann's designs.

Birgit Nelissen

"Egon Eiermann 1904-1970. Architect and Designer", Ed. Annemarie Jaeggi, Hatje Cantz: Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 143

Project-specific information

Project Neue Heimat housing project
Persons involved
  • Egon Eiermann und Robert Hilgers, Architektur
Project period 1946-1949

Object-specific information

Typology Wohnsiedlung, housing projects

Site-specific information

Country Deutschland
City Buchen