Bruno Taut's other estate: a little-known Bauhaus classic

Berlin Bauhaus design at its best: the little-known Waldsiedlung Onkel Toms Hütte

It's hardly the best known of Berlin's modernist housing estates, but for us, there's no doubt: this inexplicably overlooked Bauhaus masterpiece is one of the city's great architectural highlights.

Substantially designed by renowned architect Bruno Taut, the Waldsiedlung Onkel Toms Hütte (Uncle Tom's Cabin forest estate) is clustered around the curiously named U-Bahn station from which it derives its title.

A modernist housing estate masterpiece: Waldsiedlung  Onkel Toms Hütte
Waldsiedlung  Zehlendorf / Onkel Toms Hütte

Constructed between 1926 and 1932 in a beautiful woodland setting, the 12-hectare site varies subtly in both appearance and scale, but it's the district's northern section - the aptly named Papageiensiedlung or 'parrot estate' - that's the real show-stopper.

A lesser known work by architect Bruno Taut: the 'Papageiensiedlung' in Berlin's Zehlendorf
A colourful Bauhaus classic: the Onkel Toms Hütte modernist housing estate, Berlin
Bruno Taut's best? Onkel Toms Hütte modernist housing estate, Berlin

Here, rows of near-identical terraced homes are emblazoned with Taut's signature use of colour, from zinging primaries on windows to earthier tones on facades.

It's a look that's already familiar from the architect's far better known developments such as the Tuschkastensiedlung and Hufeisensiedlung, but for us at least, these rigorously angular dwellings with their carefully coordinated hues easily constitute one of Berlin's most impressive ensembles of classic, Bauhaus-influenced design.

Early photograph of a recently completed street in the Onkel Toms Hütte modernist housing estate, Berlin

A street in the Waldsiedlung Onkel Toms Hütte, shortly after completion in 1928

Visiting is easy - simply take the U3 line directly to Onkel Toms Hütte (a station which, with its integrated shopping lanes from 1932, also provides a fascinating example of forward-thinking, early 20th century modernist architecture).

Look out, too, for yet another 'secret' estate bordering the Bauhaus complex - a residential quarter built specifically for the Nazi SS.

Designed to appear as unlike its 'degenerate' neighbour as possible, the woodland enclave of folksy cottages adds yet another layer of history and meaning to a fascinating Berlin district where its homes are the star attraction.

See also:
Cottages for the SS
Door to a lost architectural masterpiece
A forgotten Bauhaus classic

Waldsiedlung Zehlendorf / Waldsiedlung Onkel Toms Hütte: 14169 Berlin
Bruno Taut's Papageiensiedlung (Parrot Estate): Am Wieselbau, Am Fuchspass, Treibjagdweg, Hochwildpfad.

Further works by Taut, and other architects including Hugo Häring and Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, located between Wilskistrasse, Waldhuterpfad, Auerhahnbalz and Am Fischtal.

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