Cultural Transfers #8

Chen Kuen Lee (1915–2003)

Housescapes. Organic Architecture in Stuttgart, Berlin and Taiwan

Housing complex, Märkisches Viertel, Berlin, 1965-70, staggered roof (detail); © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie
Housing complex, Märkisches Viertel, Berlin, 1965-70, staggered roof (detail); © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie

Living in large communities requires a wide range of floor plans. In the Märkisches Viertel in Berlin, Lee used 49 different floor plans for 1,250 flats. He heightened this sense of diversity by designing five different blocks arranged around a common interior area with openings on several sides. Due to the varying heights of these five buildings and their sloping roofs, the ensemble has the sense of a mountain landscape. One special feature is the "duck’s feet" in the ground floor of Blocks I, II and III, which were designed with a garden area for families with several children. Here the concept of a one-family dwelling and terraced house is combined with a high-rise. In this way Lee here creates a great variety of apartment types.

In the Mok and Lisa Sung building for several generations in Taiwan, Lee explores the interior decoration of show apartments in high-rises and the interior design of a gallery. He also designed two dwellings in which he adapted the principles of New Building that he had developed in Germany to Taiwanese conditions and requirements. For Lee, these buildings for several generations are ways to find the right way for families to live together.

Inspired by Hans Schaourn’s school buildings: Chen Kuen Lees design for a detached house; © AdK
House of Dr. Gilliar, Nabburg, 1966, winter garden with operable roof; Photo: A. Körner, © bildhübsche Fotografie
Hongkong Bar, Berlin, 1957; © Privat Archive Yu-Dembski
Chen Kuen Lee, House of Lin family, 1997, Taiwan; © AdK
House of Dr. Gärtner with garden design by Hannes Haag, Bretten-Sprantal, 1979-81; © H. Haag
Apartment house in Berlin-Schlachtensee, 1963-64; © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie
Housing complex, Märkisches Viertel, Berlin, 1965-70, staggered roof (detail); © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie