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Vertical City | Ludwig Hilberseimer

Group 3: Agnes Rudehill Olcén, Aistė Bagdonite, Giordana Pacini

plan shema 1:5.000

plan schema 1:1.000

Vertical City | Ludwig Hilberseimer Density:


80,000 Inhabitants pr km2 land 2,80 Floor Area Ratio (build m2 in relation to size of the area) 4,000 Inhabitants pr build km2


0% Water 0% Infrastructure including plazas 25.70% Build area 0% Greenspace

Functions: 0% Cultural 43% Commercial 57% Housing

The Vertical City – or Highrise City – was projected by the german architect Ludwig Karl Hilberseimer in 1924 and published in his book Großstadt Architektur in 1927. He taught at the Bauhaus from 1929 to 1933 and took part in the CIAM’s urbanistic discourse. In 1928 Hilberseimer proposed a plan for Berlin based on the principles of the Highrise City, but it was never built. This project was made within the context of 1920s socialist ideals. As in the Fordist ideal of mass production, the city was based on circulation and decentralization principles, based on the homogeneous collective and governed primarily by rational and functional precepts. Hilberseimer proposed a radical break with the current model, which was represented in the City for Three Million Inhabitants of Le Corbusier, based on a horizontal zoning. In the Highrise City, he aims to eliminate the need for scrolling, which needed to be decreased to a minimum traffic getting in direct contact with the work of housing and commerce. Starting from the existence of a new prefabricated construction industry and the effective use of elevators, he proposed a vertical zoning. Hilberseimer made calculations in which he proved that the same - or even higher – densities could be reached with five story buildings, without skimping on apartment size. This was possible by placing the structures closer together but still leaving 70 to 80 per cent of the surface open. With geometrical rigor, the city’s image is of unity and simplicity. Every building is the same, each unit in the building looks like the unit next to it. The city actually consists of two overlapping cities: below, the commercial city and road traffic, and above, the residential city and pedestrian circulation. In addition, services and intercity transportation runs in the underground.

Hilberseimer’s shemas for the Vertical City.

The Highrise City is a city for a million inhabitants, what is possible due to the concentration, the increased density and overlapping uses. It unfolds from north to south, coinciding with the main direction of the buildings. It consists of blocks of 100 by 600 meters and 60 meter wide roads for vehicles, that are separated from the pedestrians. The commercial buildings are 15 meters deep and arrange themselves in a succession of square yards (seven in each block), while residential buildings are linear 10 meters deep blocks supported on the long sides of the block and arranged at regular intervals of 70 meters, so the blocks, both in the streets and in the interior, keep the same spacing. The two residential blocks of each commercial block are joined at the short sides, on the sixth floor, which contains both access to the shops and workshops as well as housing. In this design Hilberseimer solved all the traffic problems, which was his principal aim. Public transport is under the ground, vehicular transport on ground level and pedestrian movement at the sidewalks on the sixth floor, on huge footpaths connected with bridges. In this way he separated vehicular traffic from pedestrian movement, so they don’t influence each other. This should result in a safer traffic, with crossings on different levels. By ordering the city in this way he kept the movement short, the business is directly under the residential area. This system is based on the old principle of living above your store. As with the proposal of Le Corbusier, this model was theoretical and posed no immediate application to any existing city, with real limitations. For this reason, these modernists models’ application was becoming very difficult, only being possible in those places where the public authorities had the strength to impose the model to citizens, owners and investors. At this time, Hilberseimer’s plan had only taken into account the business and the residential aspects. In his design there was no space for public buildings – factories, industrial plants, museums, assembly halls, churches or schools – neither for any park or plaza. Late in life, Hilberseimer himself admitted: “The repetition of the blocks resulted in too much uniformity. Every natural thing was excluded: no tree or grassy area broke the monotony... the result was more a necropolis than a metropolis, a sterile landscape of asphalt and cement, inhuman in every aspect.”

Reproduction of Hilberseimer’s shema cut and plans

Vertical City | Ludwig Hilberseimer Images

Diagram of the Highrise city - east-west road

Proposal for Berlin - 1928

Diagram of the Highrise city - north-south road

Proposal for Berlin - 1928

Vertical City - Hilberseimer  
Vertical City - Hilberseimer