Walter Schwagenscheid and Tassilo Sittmann, in cooperation with garden designer Erich Hanke and traf
Town related links
- Henrich, Paula, Nordweststadt. Junge Stadt auf altem Boden, Frankfurt am Main 1971.
- Irion, Ilse and Thomas Sieverts, Neue Städte. Experimentierfelder der Moderne, Stuttgart 1991.
- Kluyver, P., Nieuwe steden. Een verkenning van verstedelijkingsprocessen, Paris/Amsterdam 1970.
- Walter Schwagenschneidt, Die Nordweststadt. Idee und Gestaltung, Stuttgart 1964.
type of New Town:
> scale of autonomy
Nordweststadt was planned in the fifties as a Satellite Town at a distance of eight kilometres northwest of Frankfurt am Main. In that period most of the war damage in Frankfurt was repaired and the municipality started looking for a new location for housing development. In 1959 a competition was held for the design of Nordweststadt for 25,000 inhabitants on a surface of 170 ha. The architects Walter Schwagenscheid (1886-1968) and Tassilo Sittmann, in cooperation with garden designer Erich Hanke and traffic planner Paul Leuner, got the assignment although they did not win.
Urban plan and design
The plan consisted of four districts around a main centre. The houses formed groups, and these groups formed on their turn districts. The repetition of the same housing groups was the basis of the city structure. The residential streets were connected to the main streets that were on their turn linked to the major roads of the city. This functionalist ordering of the city structure was typical of the pre-war Russian New Towns like Novosibirsk and Magnitogorsk that were designed by the planning group of the German architect Ernst May. Walter Schwagenscheid was part of this planning group and his Raumstadt-model, which was later published in the book Die Raumstadt (1949), played an important role in the socialist cities in Russia as well as in Nordweststadt. The Raumstadt was a planning model based on the idea that architecture was a reflection of society. The groups of houses would hopefully stimulate the people to form a unity as well. In Russia the people did not understand the idea of repetition and they were not used to the rational design of the houses and the houses were badly constructed because of low quality of building materials. Schwagenschneidt hoped that his ideas would have more resonance in Germany.
The housing districts were experiments to realize a better living quality than in the big cities. The presence of nature, the absence of sound pollution by traffic, a nice setting for the houses surrounded by gardens and a variety of architecture were the ingredients to reach this goal. The groups of houses were oriented towards green courtyards. In the middle of the town a recreational park with an artificial lake and hills were planned. There was enough space for greenery because of underground parking facilities and high-rise buildings. The planning team of Schwagenscheid and Sittmann designed different housing types for different social classes and they organized design competitions to stimulate a variety of building forms. Most of the buildings were constructed with cubical forms with which different building volumes could be realized. Schwagenscheid also wanted to paint the façades in vivid colours, as a reflection of the diverse future population.
The main centre, designed by Appel, Bechert and Becker, functioned as a centre for the whole region. Besides public facilities it also consisted of a museum on the history of the region to show the cultural connections of the population. Every quarter also had its own small centre and schools in the neighbourhood. In order to avoid parked cars in the streets, cars were parked in the underground parking lots with grass roofs nearby the residential districts. Nordweststadt was connected with a metro line to Frankfurt (1968).
The various planning parties worked together in barracks at the border of the residential area. This did however not result in good cooperation. The housing associations did not take the designs of Schwagenscheid and Sittmann into account. The houses were mass-produced and dictated by the construction methods and the crane gantry instead of the needs of the people. The architects were disappointed, because of their limited influence. Most of the construction of Nordweststadt was completed in 1968. The town was criticised because of the uniform design that made it hard find your way.
Nordweststadt never became an independent town. Nowadays it is united with the districts of Heddernheim, Niederursel and Praunheim. The first inhabitants were young families. But after the first people had moved in, Nordweststadt got negative publicity. Because of the unattractive environment the second generation moved out. The elderly class (since the 1980s the 65+ population has grown with 77%) and immigrants dominate the population. The population shrank to less than 11,000 inhabitants. But programs will be developed to improve the image of this town.