Germany’s first Garden City.


Hellerau is a Stadtteil of Dresden. Designed in 1911 by Herman Muthesius, Richard Riemerschmid, and Heinrich Tessenow, it drew upon the concepts of English urban planner Ebenezer Howard, who authored “Garden Cities of To-Morrow” and designed Letchworth, the first Garden City in Britain. In their design of Hellerau, the architects expanded on Howard’s ideas, creating a city that would go on to inspire urban planners around the world. More than the bricks and mortar, it was an experiment, a blueprint of how one could weave social concepts into the building of a city.

A vibrant community of creatives flocked to Hellerau, which was regarded as a beacon of progress. Modern theatrical companies flourished, and pioneering educators established innovative schools. One of the enduring international achievements from that period was the founding of Summerhill School, which relocated to England after the Nazis came to power in 1933.

Its impressive theatre, designed by Swiss architect Adolphe Appia was recognised as ‘the first theatre of modern times to be built without a proscenium arch and with a completely open stage’. It suffered greatly in the Nazi and then Soviet era and was a wreck in a state of collapse.

In its heyday, more than 5,000 international visitors descended on the city to experience the Festspielhaus Hellerau, including the likes of George Bernard Shaw and Konstantin Stanislavski of the famed acting system. Hellerau’s Festspielhaus site gained an entirely different notoriety after 1933, it was used both as a nazi police school and later a Red Army base.

Only in the decades after unification have meaningful projects been undertaken to restore the theatre and other important buildings. The theatre is now today’s European Centre for the Arts.

In 2022, Dresden’s Mayor of Culture noted ;

“Hellerau is an expression of a reform movement at the beginning of the 20th century and stands as an antipode to the former residential city. But also as a nucleus for an artistic avant-garde as well as for new forms of engagement with society and its lifestyles in a big city.”

In 2022 Hellerau sought World Heritage Site recognition.

Image of the theatre by Stephen C Dickson CC BY SA 4.0



Related Products

Related Posts

A Modernist’s Vision, Ernst May

Friday April 2019
By Greyscape

Aylesbury Estate In Three Pieces

Saturday June 2024
By Greyscape
Hans Poelzig at his desk

The huge contribution of Hans Poelzig

Saturday September 2021
By Greyscape