Preserving what’s old and valuable in all its glory

With its approximately 30,000 listed residential units, Deutsche Wohnen is one of the largest private owners of such residential properties in Germany. Preserving what is old and taking on responsibility for the things that are worthy of protection while nevertheless making modern living possible – these are the requirements when refurbishing listed residential properties. Deutsche Wohnen successfully applied its extensive and comprehensive experience in this area in Dresden-Kaditz and in Berlin-Zehlendorf too.

Kaditz is a peaceful and green district located in the north-west of Dresden, to the right of the River Elbe. It is a very special open perimeter block development located between Dungerstraße, Bobestraße and Geibelstraße. Now comprising four floors following conversion of the attics, the buildings were designed in the German reform architecture style with neoclassical elements. They are believed to have been built in the first 20 years of the last century – the building records that could corroborate this no longer exist as the building archives were destroyed by fire in the war.

Dresden-Kaditz
Dresden-Kaditz

Deutsche Wohnen acquired the building in 2018 and developed the plans for its refurbishment in line with heritage requirements together with the local architecture and consultancy company Falk in close coordination with the Dresden’s Board for Culture and Heritage Protection. The look of the residential estate with its harmoniously arranged facade and imposing mansard roofs was seriously impaired following German reunification by numerous instances of work for which no permission was granted. Since then, the disproportionately large balconies have been reduced in size or, in some cases, removed altogether and new stacked balconies with wood flooring and rainwater drainage have been attached to the walls. Oversized incursions into the eaves and dormers were rectified. At the same time, apartments in the attics with floor plans not in keeping with the times and with rooms which were too small were redesigned and converted. Damage in the basements caused by the historic flooding in August 2002 from the Elbe was also remedied.

Dresden-Kaditz

Year completed: 1920s
Houses: 7
Residential units: 215
Investment volume: EUR 3.5 million
Refurbishment period: August 2019 – August 2020

“After a short building time of just one year, the listed ensemble now has its original character reinstated and has been restored to its former glory,” says Project Manager Alexander Teuchert of Deutsche Wohnen Construction and Facilities GmbH. The tenants were very accepting of the restoration of the old aesthetic. “The planning and building work was performed with all the apartments let – carefully and with prudent use of resources,” explains Teuchert, emphasising the important contribution made to the sustainable and responsible handling of the holdings.

Likewise in Berlin-Zehlendorf, refurbishment work was carried out which took the historic fabric of the buildings into account. While the 1930s buildings are not listed themselves, they are directly adjacent to the Waldsiedlung (Forest Estate) on Argentinische Allee, which was developed among others by Bruno Taut. Following the refurbishment, they create a harmonious ensemble with the neighbouring buildings, their shared identity being underscored by the colour concept, the facade and the building entrances.

Berlin-Zehlendorf
Berlin-Zehlendorf

“The aim was careful, conscientious refurbishment,” summarises Technical Project Manager Jendrik Kruse of Deutsche Wohnen Construction and Facilities GmbH. A large proportion of the overall investment sum of approximately EUR 12 million is being spent on maintenance and is therefore borne by the owner. The average modernisation cost allocation is just 50 cents per square metre. Deutsche Wohnen concluded a framework agreement with the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough last year that governs communication and the schedule for the refurbishment measures. Thanks to a meeting with a tenants’ initiative, two tenant meetings and a tenants’ tour, the tenants were able to learn all about the project and also get involved. But that’s not all, as Anne Grützmacher, Commercial Project Manager at Deutsche Wohnen Management GmbH, explains: “We also identified tailored solutions for specific situations together with our on-site tenant support team. Temporary alternative accommodation for hardship cases and comprehensive support with achieving site clearance are just two examples.”

Berlin-Zehlendorf

Year completed: Early 1930s
Houses: 63
Residential units: 383
Investment volume: EUR 12 million
CO2 reduction: 46 tonnes per annum (12%)
Refurbishment period: 2018–2020

Environmental aspects were also very much a priority: rather than being completely replaced, the roof was maintained with an additional sealing membrane, resulting in considerable waste volumes being avoided. Mineral wool was used for heat insulation instead of expanded polystyrene. The windows and the basement ceilings were insulated to achieve an energy saving of more than 10%. In addition, the historic double casement windows were preserved and also brought up to today’s standards: “This involved an initial very work-intensive step of removing the paintwork, which contained lead. With milling work, we then saw to it that thicker insulating glass could be installed as inner glazing,” says Kruse. “This allowed us to achieve an energy upgrade without changing the look of the windows.”

Deutsche Wohnen’s focus with regard to the outdoor areas, which are scheduled for completion in 2020, is sustainability and it is therefore working closely with the lower nature conservation authority. There are plans for forest meadows for native insects, for example. Consideration is also being given to the habitats of other animals living on the estate: when a resident notified us during the refurbishment measures that there was a squirrel living in a tree which was due to be felled, the plans were changed. The tree was debranched only half the way up to prevent it from damaging the facade, allowing the winsome expert climber, who was christened Willi, to continue to live in the treetop.

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