dancing with architecture: Gropius' Hammerstock Colony, Karlsruhe, Germany

On the way to Stuttgart during our European architectural vacation we stopped in to gawk at Walter Gropius' Dammerstock Colony in Karlsruhe. Commissioned in 1928 and finished (?) in 1929, the colony is an example of Gropius' thoughts on urban development as well as architecture. As far as architecture is concerned, the development is done in the Bauhaus style: rational and radically unadorned. In Gropius' own words: "We want to create the purely organic building, boldly emanating its inner laws, free of untrtuhs or ornamentation."

On the urban planning side, Gropius gradually scaled his buildings from six-story apartment buildings facing the main street and railroad down to two-story garden townhomes away from the street. This scaled development is still prefered today by urban planners (we certainly hear about it in Austin).

Funny story that relates to Gropius' farsightedness in design: When we showed up to Hammerstock and rolled in the front entrance, it was obvious that the entrance buildings were Gropian and from the original colony. We then walked all over the development disappointed that none of his other buildings appeared to be left (bombed out during the war?). For grins, we walked down a footpath along the tracks and happened upon another entrance building. In that building was a map, upon which we turned around and saw that all the buildings we thought were relatively new were in fact 85-year-old originals!

If you go:

Where is this place?

It's still an active neighborhood. We were able to drive in, park (for free), and simply wander. We did not arrive early enough for the retail buildings to still be open to tour.

The main retail space.

Apartments that L off the retail space.

The Gropius Apothocary!

The original main entrance to the living spaces (now closed to auto traffic).

 Historic photos of the Colony:

Historic photos from here and other palces.

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