Houses with Balcony Access

Tillmann Franzen, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018


  • 1928 — 1930
  • Hannes Meyer


  • 1998

building typology

Housing Estate/settlement


The social reformist credo of Swiss architect and second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer was simple: “Put the needs of the people before the needs of luxury”. In his Houses with Balcony Access (1929/30), he succeeded admirably in fulfilling his ambition to place social issues at the centre of the architecture and work at the Bauhaus. The ensemble is the first joint project undertaken by the Bauhaus building department, which had been created with Hannes Meyer as its first director. The Houses with Balcony Access have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2017.

In 1928, the City of Dessau commissioned the Bauhaus to expand the Dessau-Törten Estate. Five 3-storey apartment blocks were built, designed explicitly for workers and people with very low incomes. They have a total of 90 flats, which are accessed via the outdoor corridors in the form of extended balconies that give the buildings their name. These access galleries not only fulfilled Meyer’s principle of economic efficiency but also had an important social function: as communal balconies, they were intended to promote neighbourly communication and solidarity.

“Community” is also an important keyword in the history of the buildings’ development: they were designed and implemented collectively. In addition to Hannes Meyer, twelve Bauhaus students were involved, including Konrad Püschel and Philipp Tolziner.

The design clearly stands out from the neighbouring cubic white forms of Walter Gropius’s standardised houses. Unplastered brick was used for the façades of the Houses with Balcony Access. Light-coloured reinforced concrete bands above the rows of windows on the rear façade contrast with the red colour of the brick walls. The differentiated palette of materials and the colours of the window frames, which are partly made of wood and partly of steel, contribute to a varied appearance.

With a size of 47 square metres each, the three-room flats are small but are laid out to be highly efficient. The goal of saving space and costs was also factored in when fitting out the so-called Volkswohnungen, or “people’s flats”, with what was then very modern equipment, including central heating, a fitted kitchen and a bathroom with indoor toilet. To this day the houses remain fully inhabited. The buildings were refurbished in 1998 and it is now possible to visit a reconstructed model flat as part of a guided tour. [KM/DK]


Map legend

  • UNESCO world heritage site

Contact and opening hours


Peterholzstraße 40
06849 Dessau-Roßlau

The Houses with Balcony Access are located at Peterholzstrasse 40, 48, 56 and at Mittelbreite 6, 14 and just freely accessible from the outside.
The Dessau-Törten settlement with the model apartment in the Houses with Balcony Access and the steel house can be visited as part of a guided tour.

Opening hours

Please inform yourself about the current opening times and applicable access and hygiene regulations on site on the website of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation.

conveying formula

Directions by local public transport:

Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Bahnhof Dessau-Süd
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): Straßenbahn - Haltestelle Peterholzstraße ; Bus - Bauhauslinie 10, Haltestelle Laubenganghäuser

Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism

Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.

conveying formula

The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is a non-profit foundation under public law. It is funded by the State of Saxony-Anhalt, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM) and the City of Dessau-Roßlau.

Tillmann Franzen,
Houses with Balcony Access, Dessau-Roßlau
Stadtarchiv Dessau-Roßlau
Houses with Balcony Access, Dessau-Roßlau

This place is part of the tour:

Tour 1

Discover Bauhaus

Weimar, Erfurt, Jena, Gera, Dessau-Roßlau, Magdeburg, Elbingerode, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Berlin, Potsdam, Caputh und Bernau

Experience the beginnings of the Bauhaus in Weimar and admire its outstanding legacy, which spreads from Dessau-Roßlau to the striking residential buildings in Berlin.

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Tillmann Franzen, © Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau