Falkenberg Garden City (1913–16)
Tour through heritage estate no. 1
Arranged around a tree-filled green, the houses on the acacia courtyard were built during the estate’s first construction phase. The layout resembles a village square. Instead of casting the homes in a symmetrical reflection of the opposite side, architect Bruno Taut opted to offset the residential fronts and mix different types of single and terraced dwellings. The simple, mostly two-storey buildings, as on Gartenstadtweg, are decorated in muted colours. Climbing plants, espalier fruit, hedges and rows of trees highlight the spatial design. The uniformly sloping and covered roofs underline the character of a closed square and allude to village models.
The small, self-contained acacia courtyard is an oasis of tranquility on the estate. The street was designed to be traffic-calmed and thus offers a place for neighbourly chats and for the children to romp and play. A visitor guidance and information system can be found at the northern corner of the central green space, plus there is a 3D model of the estate on lower Gartenstadtweg, similar to the one at the Schillerpark Estate.
Located at Am Falkenberg 119, Tessenow House is the estate’s only building that was not designed by Bruno Taut. Already known for his designs in the garden city of Hellerau near Dresden, Heinrich Tessenow planned the house for Adolf Otto and his family. It is larger than the other dwellings on the estate and, together with the semi-detached house opposite, forms an entrance to the acacia courtyard. For many years it served both a family home and the office of the German Garden City Society, of which Adolf Otto was general secretary. In 2019, the building, by that time hosting a dental practice, was converted back into a single-family home. In a press release from 1892, the housing society said it hoped that future occupants would be able to look back on memories as pleasant as those of Ulrike Otto: "Our Grünau house was the only one in the garden city that was completely surrounded by garden, an opportunity to play ball with a bunch of neighbourhood kids without the parents around, great fun, but to the detriment of the espalier trees and strictly forbidden.”
The upper part of Gartenstadtweg is characterized by red and black on its west side. The top of the street features houses in red and orange-and-black surfaces, set back somewhat behind the gardens strung along the street. On the east side, there is a mixture of detached and terraced houses with brighter hues and other design elements. Several dwellings have wooden trellises and pergolas, and exhibit playful colours and decorations in the windows, outer walls and shutters. Here you can see how the architect used simple means to differentiate the buildings. Particularly impressive are numbers 84 and 86 further up on the west side, which are set in deep black and make for challenging viewing. However, this is a bonus on sunny winter days, when the dark paint helps to store the heat. The red and white patterns and white shutters shine bright against the black house wall.
From here, some homes follow with rear gardens that are part of the World Heritage Site. That section ends where the road surface changes from cobblestone to ordinary asphalt. At the top of the hill, the buildings of the Falkenberg New Garden City project that were developed in the 2000s begin on the left.
On lower Gartenstadtweg stands a small 3D model to aid orientation, similar to the information pillars in the acacia courtyard and at the Tessenow House. If you turn left (west) from here, the facades of the two-storey terraced homes stand out, some of them in red and some in yellow. The colours enliven the appearance despite the recurring architectural patterns. The clearly structured, symmetrical row along the front was built cheaply and quickly. Nevertheless, each of the homes exhibits a little quirk – perhaps a special pattern on the front door, or a red painted strip under the roof overhang. In their designs, Bruno Taut and Ludwig Lesser took into account the rolling landscape of the area and its natural flora. Due to extreme differences in the height of the plots, some houses have step-terraced front gardens that drop off steeply towards the street, looking much like oversized planted stairs. House number 50, painted in a bright ultramarine blue, rounds off the view on the right (western) side of the street. Uphill to the left, visitors should look out for the entrance to number 29, painted with bright geometric patterns.