The rentable museum apartment ‘Tautes Heim’ is a project started by landscaping architect Katrin Lesser and graphic designer Ben Buschfeld. Planned by Bruno Taut it is located in the Unesco World Heritage ‘Hufeisensiedlung’ and won the EU-Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa-Nostra-Award in 2013. Katrin Lesser and Ben Buschfeld bought the 65 sqm house in 2010 and renovated it with monument conservation guidelines over a period of only two years. Visitors and architecture fans can rent ‘Tautes Heim’ for an authentic living experience.
Miriam has met the two for an interview:
MB: How does your day start?
BB: We are both freelancers and early birds, therefore – fortunately – we need no alarm clock. Our day starts with a relaxed breakfast, shower and a fruit salad but shortly after we start working.
MB: Where is the ‘Tautes Heim’ located and how did the idea of it come up?
KL: For almost 20 years we have lived in the Hufeisen settlement, just 100 meters away from ‘Tautes Heim’. We feel very comfortable here and are both committed to historic preservation, have repeatedly published on the settlement and also offer guided tours ourselves. From my point of view, a guided tour includes visiting the interior. The reason is simple: the high quality of living behind colorful facades can only be experienced from within the building. Back then „light, air and sunshine“ was the slogan of the planners. The new housing should become a contrast to the dark tenement blocks of that time.
MB: How did you manage to let a house with world heritage status privately on a daily basis?
KL: It has a lot to do with the transformation to individual property in this area, in contrast to other settlements of the “Berliner Moderne”. It makes it more difficult ensuring a homogeniously monument preservation. From this situation we have initiated several projects that pursue a knowledge transfer relating to monuments and at the same time address neighbors, politics and externals. Thankfully we are well connected locally and know many houses of the settlement from the inside. One day we accompanied friends of neighbors during the inspection of an end-terrace house up for sale. The house – formerly inhabited by an old lady – was quite run down and in extreme need of renovation. The friends quickly rejected but we were immediately excited and have been looking for a possibility to make it accessible to third parties since.
After having tried to achieve funds unvailingly we came up with the idea of a temporary furnished living space according to museums standard. We took the risk jumping into work and now hope to refinance our private investment through renting. It is fun but also a long idealistic process which was only possible by the experience we bring along.
MB: Your are a couple, do you split the responsibilities for this project? I know for example that you Katrin, are a landscaping architect and have caused the Hufeinsen settlement to become a garden monument. And Ben, what role do you play?
BB: I am a communication designer with focus on architecture and contemporary history, and so far consider myself to some degree a professional. The whole planning and restoration work is a real ‘couples-project’. Over a period of two years we’ve been working together almost every weekend designing and making choices. Only later we split the work. Katrin has much more competence in garden issues and is also a great site manager. I myself on the other hand was able to demonstrate my PR-skills and took care of the photos, website, networking, etc.
MB: Temporary residents and architecture fans can stay overnight and also work at ‘Tautes Heim’. There is a desk and a wifi connection. What about cooking, can I rent the house and invite guests for dinner?
KL: Theoretically, yes. Even though the house is full with originals of the Bauhaus era, simultaneously the kitchen is functionally fully equipped. Modern comfort in the form of a fridge and a dish washer has been achieved by hiding the devices conveniently behind the kitchen front. Also the charming „backofix“ stove does its duty. However, it is no high-end equipment and the 65 sqm house is relatively small. Insofar it is not a place for extensive culinary events. Up to four people can be comfortably catered though. Besides, in spring and summer you can enjoy sitting outside on the terrace in front of the house.
MB: How does your day end, do you enjoy cooking?
BB: Yes, I love cooking – more than Katrin actually. But we eat and cook regularly, consciously and healthy – not only for us, but also for our friends and guests. This however takes time of which we lack a bit of these days.
MB: Recipe idea?
BB: This weekend, we are invited to a birthday of a friend and are supposed to contribute something to the buffet. I think we will prepare a mousse auch chocolat and an exotic asian salat – both not typical meals of the 1920ies though.