Piesteritz housing estate
This housing estate is a real stroke of luck. It was built between 1916 and 1919 by a young Swiss architect called Otto Rudolf Salvisberg, and throughout its existence it has been spared the fate of individual privatisation, demolition and new buildings. In this way it provides visitors with an authentic picture of urban construction in the early 20th century.
The company housing estate owes its existence in part to the English sea blockade during the First World War. This forced the German Kaiserreich to replace hitherto imported wares with domestically manufactured products. These even included artificial manure. In 1915 construction began on an imperial nitrogen works in Piesteritz. Just one year later the management decided to build a housing estate to accommodate the growing number of workers. It was supposed to offer room for all the workers, from the shop floor to the management. To reflect the social hierarchy, Salvisberg designed seven different types of houses, with individual units ranging between 50 and 160 square metres in size. That said, there was no difference in the quality of the facilities offered by the houses. They all contained a bathroom, an inside toilet and a garden in which they could grow their own food and vegetables.
The company gave great priority to public spaces and the interaction between the residents. A network of public streets, squares and green areas gives the housing estate a friendly and, simultaneously, a representative face, and a system of garden paths ensures relaxed and neighbourly communications between the residents. One of the main buildings is the old "Feierabend" department store and social centre which catered for shopping, leisure and cooperative activities under a single roof.
In 1994 the Bayernwerke AG München (now Eon) purchased the housing estate. It was subsequently completely modernised in accordance with monument preservation standards – partly for the world exhibition in Hanover in 2000 - and traffic-calming measures were introduced. Nowadays Piesteritz is one of the finest company housing estates in Germany. In spite of the regional housing surplus all housing units are completely rented out.