weissenhof is a housing estate in stuttgart, germany, that was designed in the early 20th century by a host of well known european architects, including the likes of mies van der rohe, le corbusier, walter gropius and hans scharoun. built for the deutscher werkbund exhibition in 1927, the residential development showcased the then-radical international style with a focus on functional living, clean geometry and repetitive modular forms.



weissenhof estate comprises a total of 33 designs. mies van der rohe led the project and each architect was assigned a series of houses: mies van der rohe (1-4), J.J.P oud (5-9), victor bourgeois (10), adolf gustav schneck (11-12), le corbusier (13-15), walter gropius (16-17), ludwig hilberseimer (18), bruno taut (19), hans poelzig (20), richard döcker (21-22), max taut (23-24), adolf rading (25), josef frank (26-27), mart stam (28-30), peter behrens (31-32), hans scharoun (33).

weissenhof mies van der rohe le corbusier

image courtesy of pedro rodríguez



to give more insight into the weissenhof project , pedro rodríguez of archXDe has dissected the different construction techniques that were used by the architects. he’s split them up into three construction systems: the skeleton (made of metal or wood), the solid wall (made of brick or blocks), and the point structure (made of concrete or metal).



timber structural skeletons used three different construction techniques: fonitram sheets, the feifel zick-zack system and tekton blocks. fonitram sheets were used in house 20 by hans poelzig. essentially sheets of cement and wood fibers, they were placed on the wooden structure and offered excellent performance against humidity. the interior of the house was solved with thinner sheets and sheets of plaster were superimposed on them.



richard döcker’s house 21 utilized a feifel zick-zack system, which is a framework of boards around 20cm wide that made up walls and ceilings. it was 18mm thick and the joints were sealed with a rope impregnated in asphalt. the material could be left exposed or applied a finish over it. the main advantage of this system was the simplicity of its assembly and the lightness of its panels (around 85% lighter than concrete). for house 22, döcker instead used tekton blocks created from cement and wood fibers, which afforded a light and fast assembly system. its main strength was the quality of the thermal and acoustic insulation, as well as the rapid assembly on site.

weissenhof mies van der rohe le corbusier

map of weissenhof estate with the contributing architects



rodriguez categorizes the steel structural skeletons into three different techniques: cork blocks, pohlmann-type thermal panels and the klein system. used by walter gropius in house 17, cork blocks were a useful system against humidity problems. it was efficient for mass housing construction and easily standardized. 



pohlamnn type thermal panels were cardboard sheets with thermal properties thanks to a series of cavities. it was a dry construction that had to be protected from moisture at the time of assembly. it was used by max taut in houses 23 and 24, by brunoo taut in house 19, by adof radin in house 25, and by hans scharoun in house 33. for dwelling 1-4, mies van der rohe applied the klein system, which was forged of solid concrete with a layer of sand and finished in vinyl25.

weissenhof mies van der rohe le corbusier

view of weissenhof estate

image courtesy of claire zimmerman, mies van der rohe, 1886-1969: the structure of space



now to the load-bearing walls. as for the brick walls, those of the liasit type, the feifel type and the lightened blocks stand out. lightened blocks are cement blocks lightened with pumice stone and perforations. it was used by peter beherens in houses 31-32, adolf schneck for house 11, and by walter gropius in house 18.



large liasit-type blocks saved labor and reduced the number of bricks required. they were fire resistant and required less mortar than ordinary brick. this system was used by le corbusier in house 13 and by adolf scheneck for house 12. for homes 26 and 27, josef frank specified feifel type bricks. they were lightened bricks that allowed good acoustic and thermal insulation while saving mortar ensured faster construction. 



in dwelling 5-9, oud selected reinforced concrete load-bearing walls. consisting of a formwork with metal reinforcements into which concrete was poured, the insulating capacity was improved with additives. 

weissenhof mies van der rohe le corbusier

map of the construction techniques used on weissenhof estate

image by pedro rodriguez



finally, rodríguez identifies two types of point structures: metal structures and concrete structures. the metal structures were forged from metal frameworks and were used by mart stam in houses 28-30. the concrete structures were reinforced concrete slabs with 5m supports between pillars. it was used by le corbusier and pierrere jeanneret in houses 13, 14 and 15. on the main façade they chose to use metal pillars. the three houses designed by le corbusier were inscribed onto the UNESCO world heritage list in 2016 along with other buildings by the famous architect.



project info:


name: weissenhof estate (weissenhofsiedlung)

location: stuttgart, germany

architects: mies van der rohe, J.J.P oud, victor bourgeois, adolf gustav schneck, le corbusier, walter gropius, ludwig hilberseimer, bruno taut, hans poelzig, richard döcker, max taut, adolf rading, josef frank, mart stam, peter behrens, hans scharoun

year: 1927


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edited by: lynne myers | designboom