Thursday, March 19, 2015

Weissenhofsiedlung Stuttgart

For years now I've been saying that the next time I would visit my parents, I would finally go and see the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. But then I took the train and didn't fly into Stuttgart, or, during Christmas, it was too cold - excuses, excuses. So this Christmas, I said come what may, next time I would visit, we would go there!

The Weissenhofsiedlung was built in 1927 to showcase housing solutions in the near future - at a time, when pre-war Stuttgart still looked like any medieval town with timber-framed houses! It doesn't get more avant-garde than that I guess and many of the 500 000 (!!!!!!) paying visitors who went through the houses during the 3 month long exhibition were shocked with the industrial character of the houses. As a matter of fact the Le Corbusier building which today houses the museum sat unoccupied for one year until finally someone decided to rent the place!

The details - lamps, how the curtain rails are hidden within the walls, functional built-in cabinets really caught my attention (unfortunately, you may not publish photos from inside the house). The houses were renovated in 1985 and back then, people were not so keen on details, so instead of gently renovating everything, they ripped out most of the things and replaced them with exact replicas...

Many of the originally 21 buildings survived WWII. Today, the houses belong to the German State and state employees can live their with quite affordable rents. Unfortunately, judging by the decorations in the gardens and windows, most do not really pay tribute to the landmark they get to live in! Almost makes you want to reconsider your career and take up some government-job just to get a chance to live there...
Some houses were apartment buildings (fabulously designed by Mies van der Rohe), single family homes, or town houses, as the ones pictured below by J. J. P. Oud. 

The house designed by Scharoun with a martitime ship-like-touch would definitely be one I would not say no to. So airy, and those curved windows?!? *writing my application for a government job*

More info on the Weissenhofsiedlung:

If you want to read more about the international style and Siedlungsbau, here's what I wrote years ago about my all time favorite Schütte-Lihotzky!

copyright of all photos: j. / copyright of all designs: Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, J.J.P. Oud, Hans Scharoun, Mart Stam

Monday, March 9, 2015


It's March and technically speaking, I am closer to this year's summer vacation than to last year's. But I still have one post left unpublished from last year's summer vacation and when I was enjoying the sun in Berlin today and reading through my (private) written and drawn diary I made in France, I thought I might as well go ahead and publish this last, summer-bursting post. Visiting Giverny was actually the reason for me to stay a couple of nights in Paris after having hiked along the coast in Bretagne. I had been in Monet's garden 20 years ago as a little girl and when I visited the water lillies at the MOMA in New York on several occasions while living there in 2013 and 2014, I really wanted to go back to Giverny.

As a child, I couldn't think of anything worse than having to go to different parks with my parents on vacations, with one exception: Monet's garden. I remember being thoroughly impressed by it and the children's book about Linnéa in the artist's garden was one of my favorite!

Getting there is easy: you take the train from Paris Saint-Lazare to Vernon from where there are shuttle buses. Go early though as many many many many people have the same agenda. As a matter of fact, even when you arrive at Giverny as early as when the garden opens, you will still have to wait in line for at least 20 minutes. By the time I left around 1 pm, the line at the entrance had even grown! The train ride is beautiful, following the Seine, and you should by no means play candy crush and just stare into your mobile phone as the American tourist sitting opposite of me did the entire ride. I mean why spent an awefully huge amount of money to fly all the way to Europe when you could play braindead computer games at home?

The crowd is also the problem of the garden: So. many. people. There are people everywhere. You can only walk in one direction or you would clog up the entire flow. I don't recall this place to be this crowded from when I was there as a child. It was almost impossible to enjoy the beauty of the place because it feels so overrun. And yes, it was a true challenge to make the garden appear void of human life on these photos. Nevertheless I would always come back to visit because if you can somehow manage to ignore the masses it is just so, so beautiful!

copyright of all photos j.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Meals on wheels: Budapest, Hungary

Ok, ok, fine, fair enough, I won't make the hungry-Hungary pun on words... Fine then. Our annual Nutracker trip took us to Budapest in 2014. Apart from the absolutely stunning performance (definitely one of the best waltz of the snowflakes I have ever seen!!), we of course also enjoyed sight seeing, flea markets, hot springs and food!

I had a bad start though since I was too sick to eat anything but Tuc-trackers the first day. I guess it's fair to say that I did some catching up for that on Saturday when I, amongst other things, had two Strudel for breakfast...
In Budapest, make sure to have a look at the central market hall. Paprika is what will catch your eye wherever you look. 

Whatever you do, make sure to have a slice of this Zserbó at the Lipóti Pékség bakery in the market hall. It's one of the most delicious sweets I've ever had. And now that I just googled it, I found a recipe which I will definitely have to make in the near future.

Budapest is famous for its coffee house culture and we made sure to squeeze in visits to the two most famous coffee houses.

On Saturday, we went to Gerbeaud, Budapest's most prestigious coffee house. I had a Gerbeaud slice, which tasted out of this world. It features amongst others chocolate ganache and walnut-almond marzipan! (and might be the same as Zserbó?)

The place was packed, but the waitresses were extremely patient and friendly. The café looks marvelous, especially shortly before Christmas and it definitely has a k. und k. feel to it and almost immediately, you feel the compulsion to say Sissssssi and Frrrrranz! The prices are however also quite royal....

On Sunday, right before relaxing at the Széchenyi thermal baths, we went to New York Café, again an architecurally very impressive building and a coffee house with a lot of history - amongst others, Thomas Mann used to be a regular when he visited Budapest. 

I had one of their cake variations, while my sister had foie gras.

If you only have time to visit one coffee house, I would definitely recommend Gerbeaud over the New York Café except what I really liked about the New York Café was the fact that they had a piano player sit and play in the café.

 copyright of all photos j.