Art and culture

In the tradition of modernism

Art has a long history with us. Its roots can be found already in the 1920s: at that time, the Berlin GEHAG worked together with Bruno Taut. As a successful architect, he designed tenements; however, he originally came from painting and was a member of the artist union "Gläserne Kette (glass chain)". In Taut's honour, the first exhibition of the GEHAG Forum, established in 1988, was about a residential home in Dahlewitz which he designed and configured in terms of colour. Since then, more than 140 artists have presented their works. Then as now, it has been our goal to give the manifold positions of modern art a platform and to give employees, customers, and visitors a better understanding of it. In addition to architectural works, we have exhibited paintings, etchings, and drawings, but also sculptures as well as video art. With topical variety and the integration of works away from the main stream, the GEHAG Forum has turned into a recognised place of contemporary art in the last 22 years.

A heritage with a future

Living in distinguished architecture – historical, modern and sustainable, this is what our location Berlin offers: The UNESCO world heritage estates Hufeisensiedlung Britz, Weiße Stadt, and Siemensstadt have in part been in our property already since 1920. They are part of the most important construction and sociological reform contributions in Berlin of the 1920s and 1930s. Especially today, the large landscaped housing estates are sought-after places to live. With their high quality in design and efficient floor plans, they offer what a place needs to live and feel great. In addition, the current tendency to urban infrastructure and away from rural withdrawal make their location attractive to many people looking for a place to live. With their comfortable flats and family-friendly row houses, the estates have something to offer to everyone. The legacy of the architects Bruno Taut, Walter Gropius, Hans Scharoun and many others is a challenge for us: The preservation of the estates and their rehabilitation according to standards of the protection and preservation of historic monuments take place according to strict stipulations. Ms. Eike Petersen, architect of our company, talks about this unique architectural heritage and its challenges for Deutsche Wohnen.

Protection and preservation of historic monuments with zeitgeist

What makes the "Estates of the Berlin Modernism" that are part of the holdings of Deutsche Wohnen a Unesco world heritage?

The style of the "modern architecture" at the beginning of the 20th century finds its most beautiful expression in these estates: light and air for metropolitans, human dimensions and urban vicinity – today, these are inestimable factors for living quality, which at that time determined construction in the estates of the Berliner Modernism for the first time – and sent impulses for modern architecture from Berlin out into the entire world.

What is the condition of the built volumes 80 years after construction?

On principle, the estates are well preserved. However, over the decades, changes were made that were not always according to the standards of the protection and preservation of historic monuments, for example the colouration of the windows and façades, the plaster structure, or installations by tenants like balcony enclosures made of glass.

How does Deutsche Wohnen deal with this?

Our task is the reconstruction and preservation of the valuable built volumes. Through careful building-back to the original appearance, we acknowledge our company history and the visions of social housing construction of those times. The housing estate Hufeisensiedlung is a good example for this.

Which measures were implemented there?

After detailed inventory taking and investigations from a conservation standpoint, we carried out energetic improvements in the context of the protection and preservation of historic monuments: In 2009, during the first building phase, the ceilings of the basements and the top storeys received thermal insulation, single-pane windows in the attic storey were exchanged for wood / insulating glazing, and the glass balcony enclosures were removed. In addition, we repaired the first façades and re-plastered them.

What does Deutsche Wohnen plan for 2010?

On the one hand, we will continue the work already started. On the other hand, we will redesign the front gardens at Lowise-Reuter-Ring according to the historic example. Further goals are the improvement of the living environment as a whole and the development of the tourist appeal of the estate. Longer-term we plan to reconstruct one of the row houses with original furnishings, in order to show visitors and inhabitants of the estate the living and housing conditions of that time.

Where do you personally see the greatest challenge?

The UNESCO estates are a unique cultural heritage. Their architects fulfilled the high standard to create places where people like to live. We want to sensitise the public to the value of the estates and give them an understanding of the special characteristics of these buildings.


My Annual Report

Foundation of the GEHAG Forum through Heinz-Viktor Simon, Chief Executive Officer GEHAG

Annually up to 6 exhibitions of contemporary works

July 2007:
Foundation of the "Initiative world heritage" for the sensitisation of the public to the cultural heritage of social housing construction

July 2008:
Inclusion of the "Estates of the Berlin Modernism" in the UNESCO world heritage list

June 2009:
Presentation of the UNESCO certificate for the estates of the Berliner Modernism

August 2009:
Sponsorship grant of the Senate Department for Urban Development Berlin for the energetic restructuring