Eight questions for...

Katrin Lesser, landscape gardener

When I visit the World Heritage Site Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, what should I definitely not miss?

The garden town Falkenberg was designed by architect Bruno Taut and my great-grandfather, the landscape gardener Ludwig Lesser. As it is a little remote it is probably the least visited of the six Modernism estates. But I think it is really worth a visit. As the biggest of the six estates, Britz, affectionately known as the horseshoe estate, is also worth a visit. In the 1920s it was one of the first large scale construction sites in Berlin.

What do you particularly like here?

Falkenberg is the first garden town in Berlin - it was built before the First World War. It is attractively colorful, so much so that it is also known as the "paint box estate." By the way, when it was built many Berliners got upset about the colorful houses, of which there is only one black one. The horseshoe estate also consists of red, yellow, blue and white houses. Bruno Taut was very clever in creating interesting urban housing environments and he accentuated these with the use of colors.

Do you have an insider tip?

My insider tip would be the Taut home. This house in the sixth block of the horseshoe estate has been restored, so it features Bruno Taut's original interior wall colors and includes furniture from the 1920s and 30s. The entire house, including the restored garden - all historically correct - can be rented, so people can get an insight into what life was like back in those days.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

For over 75 years the horseshoe estate belonged to the same owner, which meant a lot of the original features were preserved. That is why, for example, the double casement windows or the front doors were never replaced. They are still there in their original forms and colors. It all creates a beautiful, homogenous and tranquil image.

Which time of the year is the most attractive here?

In the horseshoe estate spring is prettiest. In two streets, the Parchimer Allee and the Onkel-Bräsig-Strasse, the front gardens have flowering cherry trees. And when they are in blossom in April, going down the street feels like you are walking under pink clouds. Added to that there are several fruit trees that also have white and pink blossoms.

What else should I see here?

Within walking distance of the horseshoe estate there is the protected grand house Britz, with its two museums, two restaurants and a beautiful 17th century garden. Here you can admire the heart of the old village with its church, village pond, parish house and the old school building. The grand house also keeps old breeds of livestock.

Visiting World Heritage Sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

In spring you have to try the Beelitzer asparagus. This asparagus is grown to the south of Berlin and is a real treat with ham and potatoes.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

I would like to the city wall and the old town center of Shibam in Yemen, because I find mud-brick tower houses fascinating.

Katrin Lesser

has been living in the horseshoe-shaped grand estate Britz for over 15 years.

This estate in the south of Berlin has been part of the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates World Heritage Site since 2008. The landscape gardener grew up in Karlsruhe, and today she works, among other things, as memorial consultant for the horseshoe shaped estate and the garden town Falkenberg, both part of the Modernism Housing Estates World Heritage Site.