Arena of the new architecture

photo: Reinhard Wegmann
Frankfurt Kitchen in Ernst-May-Haus, Frankfurt am Main.


Then as now, ‘New Frankfurt’ (1925–1930) is the term most people use when talking about Hessen and modernism. As a comprehensive social reform programme, its objective was to establish a new housing culture and way of living. Under Ernst May, the head of the municipal planning and building control office, 12,000 apartments were built in Frankfurt, setting new construction and living standards. That the scheme genuinely took everyone into account is demonstrated by the realisation of the Henry- und Emma-Budge-Heim, a retirement home in Frankfurt for single Christian and Jewish senior citizens. This was designed with the involvement of Bauhauslers Mart Stamm and Ferdinand Kramer and met the latest standards with large windows, practical layouts and functional fittings. With the shift towards New Architecture, the standards for interiors also changed: The Frankfurt Kitchen, a ground-breaking innovation designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for the Frankfurt housing estates, is the prototype for the fitted kitchen of today.

Courtesy of Sünke Michel.
Scene from the movie "Wo wohnen alte Leute" by Ella Bergmann-Michel. Residents on their balconies of the Henry- und Emma-Budgeheims for single Christian and Jewish senior citizens, Frankfurt / Main.


Hessen has also played a significant role in the dissemination of the Bauhaus idea and the current relevance of the Bauhaus. In 1960, art historian Hans Maria Wingler founded the Bauhaus-Archiv in Darmstadt and gained active support from Walter Gropius and many former Bauhauslers, who helped get things underway with bequests and donations. The Bauhaus-Archiv was first located in the Mathildenhöhe area of Darmstadt. Mathildenhöhe was soon recognised as an artists’ colony, its members seeking a union of art and crafts – the very same aim that the Bauhaus set out to achieve on its founding in 1919. The Bauhaus-Archiv eventually relocated from Darmstadt to Berlin in 1979.


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