Niesky was the center of the wooden prefabricated house construction. The former Director's House and other prefabricated houses are evidence of this success.
The rapid population growth of the 19th century soon led to the idea of industrializing the production of housing. Founded in 1882, the company Christoph & Unmack in Niesky had already produced portable huts for the Prussian military and others using panel construction, in which individual wall panels are prefabricated in the factory and assembled on site. In 1900, the company began to transfer the principles of hut construction on permanently occupied buildings. The rigorous and innovative implementation of the prefab concept made Niesky the centre of European timber construction. From 1926 to 1929 Konrad Wachsmann was chief architect at Christoph & Unmack and soon acquired great fame. Two outstanding examples of his work have been preserved: the summer house for Albert Einstein in Caputh near Potsdam and the Director's House in Niesky, which was built in 1927. In 1941 Wachsmann, who was Jewish, was forced to emigrate to the United States, helped by Einstein. There with the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius he built more prefab projects. In 2005 the director's residence was bought by the town of Niesky, renovated and re-opened as an information, exhibition and research centre for modern timber construction. In Niesky alone nearly 100 other prefabricated wooden houses are still standing. Built as homes for employees of the factory and public buildings, they served at the same time as model homes. A tour through Niesky is very worthwhile.
Icon of the modern age
The building was erected in 1927 according to the design by chief architect Konrad Wachsmann (1901 – 1980) to serve as »director’s house« for the Christoph & Unmack AG enterprise, located in Niesky. This remarkable reminder of classical modernist architecture is the only known Wachsmann building in log construction. Together with other modernist wooden buildings, the director’s house shapes crucial areas of the Niesky cityskape. It was uninhabited from 1990 until 2005. After being restored in accordance with conservation guidelines and the original colour concept, it serves as exhibition, cultural and information centre on »wooden buildings of Modernism« today.