Sometimes we discover things quite randomly here at The Urban Rowhouse. One of our new-found favorite places for inspiration is Pinterest. If you haven’t seen our RowHouse Magazine board, please check it out. Our pins represent both what we’ve written about on this blog as well as row houses we’ve seen on other boards.
Recently, I came across photos from the garden city of Hellerau, now part of Dresden, in Germany. In general, garden cities are a unique type of planned, semi-urban residential development that were conceived by urban planners who thought if you combined the best of what the city had to offer, with the benefits of living in the country, it would pretty much be a nirvana of living. As a result, garden cities are highly conceptually planned districts, that are typically very beautiful and very well thought out.
In the best plans, there is typically a variety of homes represented to cater to several income levels so that laborers could live along with the managers and owners, conveniently within close distance to the workshops and factories. As a result, many garden cities, including Hellerau and Forest Hills Gardens in Queens, New York, have row houses.
The concept of garden cities was conceived by English social theorist Ebenezer Howard who, after seeing cities ravaged by the Industrial Revolution, thought there was a better way for people to live; more in harmony with each other, their environment, and their livelihood. In his book, “Garden Cities of To-morrow” (1902 – read it here), he presented an idea for planned communities in balance with enterprise, the environment, and society.
Howard’s work inspired German master carpenter and entrepreneur Karl Schmidt-Hellerau, who happened to need a place to house his growing workforce. Row houses were part of the original four-part concept for Schmidt-Hellerau’s garden city, which also included detached homes, workshops, and community buildings. To design the homes and layout of the community, he enlisted the assistance of several well-known architects of the day, Richard Riemerschmid, Heinrich Tessenow, Hermann Muthesius. (Source: http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_image.cfm?image_id=2154)
Most of the row homes in the area are intact. They are predominantly light-colored stucco with cheerful red roofs and often shutters surrounding the windows. The overall design is clean and works well with the established domestic architecture of the time as well as still looking relevant today. I tried to find an approximate idea of what a row house in Hellerau would cost but there doesn’t seem to be any currently on the market.
To learn more about the garden city of Hellerau, please visit the following websites: