Cultural Transfers #8

Chen Kuen Lee (1915–2003)

Housescapes. Organic Architecture in Stuttgart, Berlin and Taiwan

Apartment house in Berlin-Schlachtensee, 1963-64; © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie
Apartment house in Berlin-Schlachtensee, 1963-64; © A. Körner, bildhübsche Fotografie

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lee took an interest in living in small communities. The aim of this way of living is to be flexible as families grow or become smaller, and to create generous flowing spaces with open views between the living spaces and to the exterior.

A house with an extra annex apartment is one way of enabling generations to live together. In addition, for the house for Dr. Wolf (Stuttgart), Lee emphasised light and transparency in the living room by using a strip window, while in the house for Prof. Wiemers he integrated strip windows into the gently sloping mono-pitched roofs.

Terraced housing and rows enable open floor plans with diverse relations between the living spaces for parents, children and others, as in the terrace row for Adolf Haag. In the row of houses at Oberaichen and also the Stetten terraced houses, this is achieved by using the staircase as a connecting element in the living and dining space.

In an apartment block with six to eight flats, connections are created via arcades, staircases, the garden or other exterior spaces. The Bense apartment building makes use of the surrounding garden, while the Ong building (Stuttgart) has an open level at the back, and Schlachtensee (Berlin) has an open exterior area and an arcade.

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