Hansaviertel: the residents

by Matthias · 10.08.2012 · People, Places · 2 comments

Finding Hansaviertel

Yes­ter­day, we wanted to give an insight into Hansaviertel’s his­tory and archi­tec­ture. Some of the build­ings we entered, some of the pho­tos we made and some of the inform­a­tion we gave were owed to the res­id­ents who provided us with inform­a­tion and entrance. What was con­ceived as an after­noon stroll ended up in meet­ing loc­als who were will­ing to tell or at least show us their Hansavier­tel stor­ies. One of them was the the local church’s rev­er­end who swooned over the com­fort­able means of liv­ing in such a spa­cious area, about the out­stand­ing archi­tec­ture of his tab­er­nacle until he made his fare-wells and van­ished in one of the mod­ern­ist block of flats.

How­ever, we were also lucky to meet another res­id­ent, a dis­tin­guished elder lady who shared her very own Hansavier­tel stor­ies with us. Hav­ing moved in as one the first res­id­ents and belong­ing to the few, who still live there, she was both proud of her unique neigh­bour­hood and upset about new inhab­it­ants who wouldn’t appre­ci­ate the splen­did homes they moved in.

Back in 1958, she and her hus­band were con­vinced by an archi­tect friend to invest in one of the few prop­er­ties that were offered here. “We didn’t have much more than five thou­sand Deutschmark”, she admit­ted, “we were hardly older than thirty years, but our par­ents provided us with the money we needed. We were really happy that we were awar­ded the con­tract for the very last prop­erty avail­able, since we were lucky that open kit­chens were unpop­u­lar back then.”

Finding HansaviertelFinding Hansaviertel

After we took a walk in the neigh­bour­hood, she invited us home to let us curi­ous vis­it­ors see how one of the single-family houses designed by Arne Jac­ob­sen looked from the inside.

When we entered the build­ing, we found an unex­pec­ted design and archi­tec­ture treas­ure behind these unre­mark­able facade. The one-storey build­ing stretched away from the road, guid­ing into a won­drous realm. “We do not hear a single noise from the street. It’s so calm, that over the years I became severely sens­it­ive to any loud sounds.” The house was silent, indeed.

The lady of the house pro­ceeded to show us around. She poin­ted out every single piece of fur­niture, its designer and some­times how she and her hus­band had acquired it. Room after room, our jaws dropped even more, but the most amaz­ing fea­ture was the garden (in fact, the gar­dens, of which one is con­struc­ted as an interior court­yard). “Jac­ob­sen didn’t design a house, he designed a garden that stretches indoors. The house is merely a con­tinu­ation of the garden that is con­nec­ted to the liv­ing room by this front of pan­or­ama win­dows. Liv­ing in and with nature was his vis­ion and so do we live here.” She con­tin­ued to tell us about Jacobsen’s ideas and how the fam­ily integ­rated the green into the build­ing. “Over there, Jac­ob­sen built a patch that lit­er­ally reaches from the court­yard into the liv­ing room. How­ever, my hus­band needed the space for his desk so we put boards and car­pet over the gravel bed.”

I asked how the fam­ily could’ve kept their home so per­fectly intact. “Over the years, we ren­ov­ated three times. Of course, we had to fix minor and few major things, too. How­ever, we placed much value on keep­ing every detail true to ori­ginal.” The doorhandles, the expens­ive night stor­age heater, even the facade paint of the now heritage-protected build­ing remain ori­ginal. “But the actual nov­elty were these pan­or­ama windows” – resembling those of the fam­ous Farns­worth House – “, because they couldn’t build them as double-panes in such big sizes. We had to replace them from time to time. You can ima­gine, that this was an energy-sapping endeavour.”

The fam­ily gets approached by many des­per­ate strangers, ask­ing if they knew about prop­er­ties in the area that were to let, or at least if they could show them their house. A couple of years ago, the fam­ily received more than 300 enquir­ies within a year, ask­ing if they were gran­ted a chance to see the Jac­ob­sen house from the inside. It was the grand jubilee of the mod­ern­ist vil­lage of Hansavier­tel. “One of the let­ters was sent by a reput­able Brit­ish archi­tect asso­ci­ation. Of course, we couldn’t turn them down. Espe­cially not since they would travel all the way here to see our house.”

In any case, we were happy to have this unique oppor­tun­ity. The lady of the house saw us politely to the door. We thanked her most sin­cerely, said good­bye and stepped back into the street. We were assured once again: Indeed, the house was silent.

Finding Hansaviertel
Finding Hansaviertel
Finding Hansaviertel
Finding HansaviertelFinding Hansaviertel
Finding Hansaviertel
Finding HansaviertelFinding Hansaviertel
Finding Hansaviertel
Finding Hansaviertel

One comment
  1. “DAS IST SO IGNANT WAS HIER PASSIERT”

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  1. […] out for tomorrow’s post when we’ll show you the amaz­ing interior of one of the Arne Jac­ob­son designed […]

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