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UNESCO Welterbe

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates - UNESCO World Heritage Housing Estates since 2008

In 2008, six housing estates of Berlin Modernism were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. At its 32nd meeting in Quebec, Canada, on 7 July 2008, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee reached a positive decision on the application filed by the Land Berlin in January 2006. This decision corresponds to the UNESCO strategy of increasingly protecting sites of Modernism as World Heritage. The housing estates stand out internationally not only because of their great importance, but also due to their good state of preservation.

The six housing estates were built between 1913 and 1934. Architects of Classical Modernism responded to the lack of housing after World War I at the highest architectural level: modern, affordable flats with kitchens, bathrooms and balconies, in houses without backyards or side wings, instead providing light, air and sun. The high-quality architecture, the language of the shapes, floor plans of the flats and urbanistic design of the estates became a role model for the entire 20th century. Planning and construction of the housing estates marked a structural change in housing, which was only possible in this way because of the special political and social conditions prevailing during the years following World War I. As a counter-model for private-sector speculative building and its tenements, they were to represent a new architecture for a new society.

Aesthetic perceptions of the avantgarde of arts and architecture were, therefore, linked with political left-wing social concepts. Trade unions, cooperative and municipal building companies became the main supporters of this constructed utopia. Today, a second change is taking shape. The public sector has been withdrawing from housing construction and sold flats to private tenants and investors. Once again, housing estates are becoming a model demonstrating how the maintenance of these emblematic historical buildings may be reconciled with the contemporary requirements for fittings and convenience.

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