The Berlin Room

Isabel Rousset

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


This article traces the history of the Berlin Room—a characteristic feature of Berlin's nineteenth-century layouts of flats. The Berlin Room was a space that connected the street-facing salon rooms to the back bedrooms, utility areas and servants’ quarters in the side wing. It functioned as a spacious thoroughfare, rather than the vestibule it would originally have been, and became the room where the family gathered for meals. This room became common in the early nineteenth-century bourgeois flat, where it embodied the new domestic ideals of the bourgeoisie: namely, informal social interaction and tight-knit family bonds. As a wave of immigrants came to Berlin in the mid-nineteenth century, the city's urban fabric was transformed by the construction of tenement housing. A municipal building officer, Gustav Assmann, developed a series of plans to serve as guides for tenement design and, rather than developing a distinct dwelling type to suit Berlin's lower-middle and working classes, Assmann developed a pared-down version of the bourgeois flat. Within this new typology, the Berlin Room remained the nucleus but was recast as a vehicle for conservative social reform. This article considers the changing values of the Berlin Room as it moved from one dwelling typology to another. Believed to have been unaffected by the corruptive Parisian property development industry, conservatives viewed the Berlin Room, as it reappeared in the tenement, as the last vestige of pre-modern German family life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1202-1229
Number of pages28
JournalThe Journal of Architecture
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2017


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