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Facade of a "Siemensstadt" apartment building by German architect Hans Schorun in Berlin
Berlin apartments became models for social housing projects around the worldImage: AP

Berlin's Housing Beauties

DW staff (th)
July 8, 2008

UNESCO has added six Berlin housing projects to its World Heritage List. The homes, built in the early 1900s, served as a model of social housing that improved living conditions for low-income residents.


The Berlin Modernism housing projects "testify to innovative housing policies from 1910 to 1933," the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in awarding the designation on Monday, July 7.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee made the decision at its annual meeting in Quebec City. It brings the total number of UNESCO sites in Germany to 33.

The housing project, built during the Weimar Republic, met a need for working class housing.

"The property is an outstanding example of the building reform movement that contributed to improving housing and living conditions for people with low incomes through novel approaches...," the UN agency said.

Avant-garde for the masses

The project influenced the development of social housing around the world.

Berlin's housing was designed by avant-garde architects Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner, Walter Gropius and Hans Scharon. What they built were some of the world's first modern apartments with kitchens, bathrooms, balconies and ample windows.

Of the 850 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Berlin apartments are among ony 21 sites from the modern era.

Arial view of a UNESCO housing project in Neukoelln
Apartments in Neukoelln were designed to be affordableImage: picture-alliance/dpa
Facade of a Schillerpark apartment building in Berlin Mitte
Schillerpark was built in the 1920sImage: AP
Entryway to a Gartenstadt Falkenberg apartment by architect Bruno Taut
The entryway is an example of modernismImage: AP
Facade of a
The Siemensstadt development is one of six added to the listImage: AP
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