Werkbundsiedlung Brno (Brünn)

Friday, 11.09.2015

Damian Brenninkmeyer at the Werbundsiedlung, Brno

Me at a villa designed by the architect Josef Stepanek (1889-1964)

I made the trip last August 2015. Here I am standing in front of a semi-detached house designed by Czech architect Josef Stepanek (1889-1964). 

It was the first ‘Werkbundsiedlung’ outside Germany and the Czechoslovakian ‘Werkbund’ referred to it by the name ‘Novy Dum’ meaning ‘New House’. Sixteen one family homes were built by nine architects in 1928 and presented to the public as an exhibition of modern living.

The ‘Werkbund’ architects were Bohuslav Fuchs (1895-1972), Josef Stepanek (1889-1964), Jiri Kroha (1893-1974), Hugo Foltyn (1906-1944), Miroslav Putna (1904-1994), Jan Visek (1890-1966), Jaroslav Syriste (1878-1950), Arnost Wiesner (1890-1971) and Jaroslav Grunt (1893-1988).

Jaroslav Grunt

A row of terraced houses designed by the architect Jaroslav Grunt (1893-1988)

The actual site today gives no indication that it was conceived as an exhibition. The buildings appear in a neglected state and their original appearance considerably altered over the years.

Nevertheless, the visit and the resulting photographs were well worth the trip.

The architecture is heavily indebted to the ‘Weißenhofsiedlung’ and like the Stuttgart project the Brünn exhibition showcased the latest in domestic architecture as dicated by the ‘Neues Bauen’ movement. ‘Neues Bauen’ was first coined by the architect Erwin Anton Gutkind (Berlin 1886-1968 Philadelphia) in his book ‘Neues Bauen. Grundlagen zur praktischen Siedlungstätigkeit’ of 1919.

The aim of ‘Neues Bauen’ was to develop a whole new way of building by using the latest materials combined with rational design to produce clean and simple interiors. This rational design was to be sociably responsible by allowing the maximum light and air to penetrate the building. This was in opposition to dark courtyards and narrow spaces of earlier domestic architecture. One can see from the exterior of the buildings in Brünn the use of flat roofs that enabled the architects to develop open spaces that were part of the living space.

Please see the section ‘Werkbundsiedlung’ for additional photographs.