Restoration of the "architect garden" designed by Paul Schmitthenner, Am Fischtal 4, Berlin

Excerpts of the historic garden survey, Bureau Zimmermann, Berlin, 1998

A first inventory of the garden "Am Fischtal 4" in Berlin Zehlendorf was taken by the department Landesdenkmalamt Berlin - Gartendenkmalpflege in August 1989.
House and garden of this property were built in 1928/29 by plans of Paul Schmitthenner in the context of the Gagfah "attempt and research settlement", in Berlin Zehlendorf. Beside Schmitthenners architectural and his structural achievement as an architect his idea stands for a functional and spatially arranged garden, which merges with the house into a synthesis of arts, in the tradition of the so-called architect´s gardens. The garden experienced numerous transformations in the course over the years and was in its original shape strongly changed.
In June 1996 the property went into the ownership of Jutta Hildebrandt and Dipl. Ing. Volker Theissen. For reasons of the care of monuments all intended structural changes had to be coordinated with the office for national monument department of Berlin, the Landesdenkmalamt. Among other things the task of the office for garden monuments is, to consult the owners, to develop plans for the reconstruction of the gardens and/or to examine submitted reconstruction plans and to supervise the works in the garden. As a basis for the reconstruction the bureau Zimmermann was assigned to work out a historic garden documentation. A content of the documentation was, to give apart from the collection and detailed evaluation of possible sources, an exact statement on detailed measures. To this work belongs a record of the existing garden elements (walls, ways, terraces...), a mapping of the existing shrubs and a topographically accurate survey of the garden. The concept for the future development follows this historic garden survey. The gradual restoration should be made possible for the garden.

schema 1

Fig.1: schematic scheme, the garden plan of 1928

History of the garden
The garden Schmitthenner´s belongs to the so-called architect´s gardens, developed in the beginning of 20th century. It is not a fact that an architect designed the garden. Rather important are the new ideas at the beginning of the century, how to arrange a modern garden and what a garden could perform. The unit of house and garden is the basic idea. The conformance of the garden with the house does not exist in the continuation of recognizable lines of the house in the garden, but are usable in the transmission of the interiors "the habitable of the house" on the garden with its ideal plan view (see Gothein, 1926) the garden areas are just like the dwellings of the house and stand in clear connection to each other. By the integration of the concerning town construction the orientation of the garden leads away itself to southeast, so that coherently, a more sunny and well usable garden area is intended. The garden is to a large extent symmetrically developed and is arranged into clearly outlined single "rooms". The most important elements are two wooden summerhouses, small garden walls and flanking tree rows. Paths connect the different ranges of the garden .
The secondary and successively of the space arrangement is its clear character for the garden and opens multiple possibilities to use, whereby the lower garden with the water basin, seized by small walls, forms the focus of the garden.

Paul Schmitthenner wrote about the garden Am Fischtal 4:
"the property is almost twenty meters widthways and the house is handsomely eleven meters long, and so two narrow courts of approximately four meters width lay between house and boundary line. The court in the north will serve the economy and that to the south is opened for the children. So that these courts are getting spaces, summerhouses are added on the left and on the right of the house, which bring the conclusion and at the garden side of the house enclosing a seat from neighbour views unimpaired. By the summerhouses the pathway from the house leads to the courts and into the garden. Large problems are not to be solved with the garden sketch, the largest restraint will be the best. No reason is present to leave the axis which are naturally given here. A modest water basin in front of the house for the children and the plants, surrounded by flower patches. Four birches on the left and on the right of the pathes, a rear playground and bleaching lawn with four fruit trees and at the end in conclusion a small vegetable or berry country and a herb garden and in the corner, not to be forgotten: the compost heap , where we plant elder. We will close the view to the fences possibly by plants. The terrace in front of the house and the soil of the two summerhouses are covered with brick pavement and, due to the money, also the garden paths."

The condition before its restoration (1998)
In the course of time the garden experienced numerous transformations. However it was still to large extents symmetrically developed. The basis idea was still to be recognized, although individual areas were changed or were partly completely destroyed.
Intending for the feature of the garden is its essential orthogonale structure. The centerline, restricted by two borders, ends in a lawn in the rear part of the garden. The slightly lowered range following the terrace was no more clearly limited in the lower garden, since the rear retaining wall was missing an space edge and the lawn leads continuously with a slight downward gradient to the border of the property. Parts of a Pergola and a pavilion remained in that part at the end. The grown-up shrubs closely lent to an enchanted charm, the figuration and color variety of the garden did not longer exist. The clear separation into different garden compartments was no more supported by the existing plants.

Fig. 2.: The garden in the condition of 1998

In the context of the survey the individual garden components ("garden rooms") were mesured in detail and represented in sketches for its preservation and/or reconstruction. The entire operations are recorded in a plan. For the reconstruction a concept for the development in three steps was drawn up:

development concept
The restoration of the garden should take place in three steps. A goal of the suggested gradual restoration is the possible design in three one after the other following temporary sections, whereby each section meant a restoration of a subrange of the garden.

Step 1
Step 1 contains the measure most meaningful for the re-establishment of the garden in the sense of Schmitthenner, to return to the original garden as soon as possible in its characteristic shape. Further short term measures should prevent the progressive purge of the garden.
The first step means the restoration of the lower garden and the symmetry of the central garden rangein the first place.

Fig. 3

Step 2
The 2nd step represents the next urgent step for the restoration of the garden. The second section contains particulary the re-establishment of the origin net of paths, which considers the situation given by the the new music room. On the other hand the new planting of the path-flanking trees by the model of Schmitthenner will be prosecuted.
Further long-term measures serve to repair the garden to gain a the original condition. They should be accomplished in the context of the second section in the following years.

Fig. 4


Step 3
It represents a stage if necessary. Parts of the today's substance are the buildings which were added over the years. (Pergola, pavilion, equipment shed), for which as last step a place justifiable in the sense of the total conception is suggested and a draft in the stylistic idiom of the garden is to be maintained.

The Bureau Zimmermann was assigned in 1999 to re-establish the central lower garden area3. The work was assigned in accordance with the landscape gardening company Buchholzer Landschaftsbau.

This "rollover" picture shows the central lower garden before and after the implementation of first restorations in the sense of step 1.

Fig. 5/6


Literature used in the context of the survey

Bauwelt 19. 1928, Heft 34, S. 766 ff
Boniver, D.: Paul Schmitthenner - Arbeiten aus drei Jahrzehnten. In: Der Baumeister 42. 1944, S. 1ff
Die Baugilde 10. 1928, S. 1442 ff
Gothein, M.L.: Geschichte der Gartenkunst, 2.Bd., Jena, 1926
Hüter, K.-H.: Architektur in Berlin 1900-1933, VEB Verlag der Kunst, Dresden, 1987
Joedicke, J.: Zum Werk von Paul Schmitthenner. In: Paul Schmitthenner - Kolloquium zum 100. Geburtstag an der Universität Stuttgart, 1985
Krosigk v., K.: Inventarisation und Bewertungskriterien bei historischen Gärten. In: Historische Parks und Gärten. Dokumentation der Tagung des Deutschen Nationalkomitees für Denkmalschutz, Leipzig, 1996
MBF (Moderne Bauformen) 28. 1929, S. 31
Müller-Menckens (Hrsg.): Schönheit ruht in der Ordnung. Paul Schmitthenner zum 100. Geburtstag, 1984
Muthesius, H.: Landhaus und Garten, 1907
Pniower, G.B.: Die neue Gartenform. In: Die Baugilde 10. 1928, S. 694 ff
Schmitthenner, P.: Baugestaltung - Das Deutsche Wohnhaus. 1. Auflage, Stuttgart, 1932
Schmitthenner, P.: Das Deutsche Wohnhaus - Baugestaltung: Erste Folge. 4. Auflage, Stuttgart, 1984
Schmitthenner, P.: Paul Schmitthenner - Gebaute Form - Variationen über ein Thema, Hrsg. E. Schmitthenner, Stuttgart, 1984
Voigt, J.H.: Paul Schmitthenner im Sog des Nationalsozialismus. In: Paul Schmitthenner - Kolloquium zum 100. Geburtstag an der Universität Stuttgart, 1985
Walter, R. :Nutzung des Rüdersdorfer Kalksteins als Werkstein. In: Führer zur Geologie von Berlin und Brandenburg, Nr.1: Die Struktur Rüdersdorf, Hrsg. J.H. Schroeder, Geowissenschaftler in Berlin und Brandenburg e.V. Selbsverlag
Wendland, F.: Zur Geschichte des Bergbaues und der geologischen Erforschung. In: Führer zur Geologie von Berlin und Brandenburg, Nr.1: Die Struktur Rüdersdorf, Hrsg. J.H. Schroeder, Geowissenschaftler in Berlin und Brandenburg e.V. Selbsverlag
Wiegand, H. & Krosigk v. K.: Verpflichtung zur komplexen Gartendenkmalpflege. In: Gartendenkmalpflege Berlin 1978-1985, Senator für Stadtentwicklung und Umweltschutz, Abt. III: Natur - Landschaft - Grün, 2. Auflage, 1985
WMB (Wasmuths Monatshefte für Baukunst) 12. 1928, S. 211, 237, 554-556
ZDB (Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung ) 48. 1928, S. 753 ff

Beside the litrature resolving from the regular ltibrary stocks several other archivs were scanned:

Owners of the property: The todays owners have no designs of the garden.
Frau Peus (Nachbarin): pictures
Herr Schimmel (RWK Rüdersdorf): Verarbeitungshinweise zum Rüdersdorfer Kalkstein
Gagfah-Archiv, Rüdesheimers Str. 50, 14197 Berlin: Es enthält keine Dokumente/Pläne oder Hinweise zur Gartenplanung des Grundstücks Am Fischtal 4
Bezirksamt Zehlendorf: Bauakten
Tiefbauamt Zehlendorf: Tiefbauakten
Gartenamt Zehlendorf: Keine Unterlagen vorhanden
Landesmuseum Zehlendorf: Kein Archivmaterial bezgl. Hausgärten im Bezirk vorhanden
Landesarchiv Berlin: Kein Archivmaterial bezgl. Hausgärten in Berlin.


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