Ernst May

Ernst May (* 27. July 1886 in Frankfurt/Main; † 11. September 1970 in Hamburg) was a well-known German architect and town planner. Between 1925 and 1930 he was responsible as a settlement departmental head of the city Frankfurt for the creation of trailblazing settlements with affordable dwelling.

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May came 1886 as a son of a leather goods manufacturer to the world, which already early his artistic interest promoted. On recommending its father it began 1908 at the University college in London with the study of architecture, came however still in the same year again back to Germany over into Darmstadt its military service to complete. In the connection it remained there and set to DOES to Darmstadt its architecture study away. it went to 1910 for a practical course with Raymond Unwin again to Great Britain and became acquainted with there during the work on the settlement Hampstead the principles of the garden city movement and translated Unwins work bases of the town construction into German. it turned and terminated 1912 again back to Germany its study at the technical university in Munich with Friedrich of Thiersch and Theodor Fischer, a joint founder of the German work federation.

the first years

starting from 1913 he worked as a free architect in Frankfurt, could develop itself no secured existence however, since he became to call up 1914. After the First World War he worked as technical managers of the schlesischen national company in Breslau and concerned themselves there with the promotion of rural housing estate developments. 1921 it participated in a competition concerning town construction for a general development plan for Breslau, which brought in an order for the draft of a development plan for the district Breslau for it.

Due to the innovative concept of the decentralized settlements suggested there by him it was appointed 1925 as an advice of building of cities into its hometown Frankfurt/Main, where it led the above ground construction and office for settlement under mayor Ludwig land man. There was responsible for the entire building industry of the city of the city and regional planning over high and foundation engineering up to the garden and cemetery nature.



it initiated Frankfurt homeland settlement around the housing shortage in Frankfurt under utilization of its new authority a large-scale housing development program, which was put on on ten years. Together with Martin Native of Alsace and a large staff at progressive architects sought May after living and settlement concepts, which do not only create affordable dwelling, but also the social and hygenic problems of the old building of rented apartments to avoid should. And its thereby functionally optimized sketches set May for coworkers and high free space purchase with a loosened up construction of rows of buildings way and roof terraces on a simple and industrialized building method by prefabricated construction units. It linked thereby the beginnings of the garden city movement with the goals of new building.

“The architects of new building eint beyond all borders of the countries a warmly felt heart for all humans in emergency, her are without social feeling inconceivablily, one can almost say that this crowd places the social moments consciously into the foreground of new building. ”
Ernst May into new Frankfurt 1928

in the context of the optimization of sequences of functions develops also the Frankfurt kitchen sketched by Margarete container Lihotzky, a Vorläuferin of the today's installation kitchens, which accommodates all kitchen-relevant functions space-saving on smallest surface.

Roman city Frankfurt

principal item of the large town development project was the Niddatal project, which covered the most well-known and largest settlements Roman city , Praunheim , west living , elevator view , Raimundstrasse and Miquelallee. Although the Frankfurt architect and engineer association expressed themselves clearly against a land development of the inundation-endangered Niddatals, May interspersed his concept, since this place offered a favorable development land price and to it made possible to plan in a larger yardstick several settlements and to fit these in landschaftlich into the existing green course.

End of the Rundling, Roman city

particularly in the arrangement of the solidiums succeeded to set it for May despite simple basic elements individual accents - in such a way in Praunheim the lines were still right-angled arranged, adapted in the settlement Roman city swung to the process of the Nidda and in the settlement break field route saw tooth-like, why them are called in the vernacular also zigzag living.

Accompanying May published the building projects starting from 1926 with others together the magazine new Frankfurt , which as language pipe and to to spread and easily understandable information should serve the population. Therein it represented a break with the traditional living and shape conceptions.

Altogether developed under Ernst May within five years approximately 15,000 new dwellings, although the large housebuilding project is not yet final, comes it end of the 20's by the world economic crisis to succumb.

Soviet Union and Africa

1930 were invited Ernst May by the government of the Soviet Union to work in Russia and together with a row coworker followed it the invitation. Until 1933 it sketched several general development plans of new industrial cities in Siberia, among other things for Magnitogorsk, Leninsk and Kusnezk. Its unpretentious drafts lead to diversities of opinion and with the expiration of its work contract 1933 left it the Soviet Union. Into Germany meanwhile the national socialists had come to the power, which it rejected the modernity of new building and publicised a homeland style why May did not return to Germany, but to Kenya emigrierte, where he acquired a piece country and coffee, grain and Pyrethrum cultivated. Starting from 1937 it made the occasional architectural projects again its principal occupation and opened an office in Nairobi, where it worked up to its internment by the British 1939.

After the Second World War he began to work again as architect and town planners, in the large war destruction in Germany sees he however a chance for an activity in the reconstruction. From 1954 on until 1956 it led the planning department of the new homeland in Hamburg. In the subsequent years it was involved in the emergence of several large housing developments in Hamburg, Bremen and Braunschweig.

Ernst May died 1970 at the age of 84 years in Hamburg.

1995 were designated in Frankfurt fount home in the center of one of its settlements a place and a streetcar final stop after Ernst May.



  • Ernst May: Our goal, the city from tomorrow, seven contributions from social obligation in city No. 2/1986, pages 10-26
  • Ernst May: from Frankfurt to new Russia in building world No. 48/1987, pages 1807-1809

to seriousness May price

since 1988 the Nassaui homesteads the seriousness May price for particularly socially oriented housing and town construction assign at students of architecture DO Darmstadt. It is endowed with 2.500 euro.


  • hitting a corner hard Herrel: Ernst May - architect and town planner in Africa 1934-1953, exhibition catalog, Wasmuth publishing house 2001, (= series of publications for the flat and model collection of the German museum of architecture in Frankfurt/Main; 5) ISBN 3803012031
  • Ernst May and new Frankfurt 1925-1930, exhibition catalog, Hrsg. of Heinrich block. Ernst and Sohn Berlin 1986, ISBN 3433022542
  • Christoph Mohr and Michael Mueller: Functionality and modern trend. New Frankfurt and its buildings 1925-1933, R. Mueller publishing house, Cologne 1984, ISBN 3481501714
  • K. C. Young, D. Worbs, M. Container Lihotzky, F. C. F. Shopkeeper, L. Shopkeeper, C. Mohr, P. Sulzer, J. More completely, H. Field of flowers, R. Hillebrecht, C. Farenholtz: Lifelong for the “large thing”: Ernst May 27. July 1886 - 11. September 1970 in building world No. 28/1986, pages 1050-1075
  • K. C. Young, D. Worbs: Ernst Mays “new homeland” in building world No. 33/1991, pages 1688-1689
  • Justus Buekschmitt: Ernst May. Buildings and planning, (= buildings and planning; 1) Stuttgart 1963

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| | * Literature of and over Ernst May in the catalog of the DDB



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