Dammerstock Housing Estate
In addition to the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, the Dammerstock Estate in Karlsruhe is one of the most important examples of the New Architecture in south-western Germany. Created by Walter Gropius, Otto Haesler and a host of other architects, the residential development was built in 1929 in just seven months as a model social housing estate.
The City of Karlsruhe had set clear priorities in its housing programme and the 1928 competition linked to it: the Dammerstock Estate was envisaged not as a playing field for the artistic avant-garde but as a means to explore viable responses to issues of social housing. Walter Gropius emerged as the winner of the competition and, together with runner-up Otto Haesler and others, ultimately built 228 of 750 planned dwellings.
The city presented the model housing estate to the public in 1929 with the exhibition “Die Gebrauchswohnung” (The functional dwelling). The target group for the small apartments with standardised furniture and state-of-the-art sanitary facilities were people in middle and lower income brackets. Instead of traditional perimeter blocks with courtyards, the city planners had envisaged linear housing blocks, which Gropius and his colleagues implemented as parallel rows oriented north–south, allowing optimal use of daylight: in the mornings the sun shone into the bedrooms and in the evenings it shone into the living rooms.
Gropius himself designed three buildings in Dammerstock. His house with balcony access is now listed as a historic monument. It unites the aesthetic principles of air, light and hygiene that also found application in the other buildings: in the spirit of the New Architecture, radiant-white plaster, grey plinths, flat roofs and uniform window sizes are recognisable features of the façade design. Another of the estate’s striking buildings was designed by Otto Haesler. It housed communal laundry facilities for the community and a central heating plant, along with a restaurant and a butcher shop. A tall rectangular element decorated with a stylised map of the estate marks the entrance to the development.
Because of the Great Depression, the estate initially remained incomplete. In the 1930s, it was expanded with conventional buildings. Not until 1949 did the city resume construction according to Gropius’s original design ideas. The Dammerstock Estate, which has meanwhile been refurbished in compliance with historic preservation standards, remains fully inhabited to this day. [KM/DK]
Contact and opening hours
Nürnberger Straße 5
Some of the buildings were funded by the KfW "Efficiency House Monument" program and have the specified energy standard. In 2016 these buildings were awarded the title "Klimahaus Baden-Württemberg".