Skip to main content

Weström, Hilde, b.1912


Biographical Note

Hilde Westrom (alternate spelling Westroem, nee Eberle) was born in 1912 in Neisse, Upper Silesia, Germany (now part of Poland). She was one of the few women to enroll in the architectural program in 1932 at the Berlin-Charlottenburg Polytechnic Institute, where she studied under Heinrich Tessenow and Walter Andrea. Westrom transferred to the Dresden Technical University in 1936. While still a student, she worked on the preservation and restoration of several churches.

After completing her studies in Dresden in 1938, Westrom returned to Berlin. She established her own professional practice and married Jurgen Westrom. In 1939, the first of her four children was born. Westrom and her family moved to Breslau (now Wroclaw) in 1942, and returned to West Berlin at the end of World War II. She established an office and worked on designing toys and furniture. She also became involved in the evaluation and reconstruction or demolition of damaged buildings. Her interest in social housing projects was fueled by Berlin's need to rebuild after the war. Her public housing buildings were noted for their consideration for families and working mothers.

In 1952, Westrom won a competition for her design of a housing project for the elderly in Berlin. In 1957, she designed a much-admired display apartment for the "City of Tomorrow" (die Stadt von Morgen) section of the international architectural exhibition "Interbau" that Berlin hosted. Over the next 30 years, Westrom designed over 800 condominiums, apartment buildings, and subsidized housing units. She also entered and won numerous design competitions.

Though best known for designing functional and comfortable modern housing, Westrom was interested in many facets of social building design, and in education and child development. She designed some schools, including an adaptive reuse project converting a bomb shelter into an elementary school (1950). She incorporated kindergarten and ballet spaces into social housing projects (1953). And she designed the Berlin- Zehlendorf kindergarten and music school and the Linthal school in Switzerland. She also designed housing for the elderly, student dormitories, and churches. Westrom was interested in renovation and reuse of buildings as well as designing completely new structures.

Westrom focused on the use of colors and forms to articulate space in all her projects. Her designs were at their most expressive when designing houses for poets and artists that incorporated their artistic goals, such as the home of Ursula Hanke-Forster, a Berlin sculptress (1964).

Westrom retired in the mid 1980s, but continued to lead an active life, taking up painting and organizing a commemorative exhibition of works by her friend, artist Gerda Rotermund. Westrom was a member of the BDA (Association of German Architects), GEDOK (Federation of Women Artists and Patrons of the Arts), UIFA (International Union of Women Architects), and IAWA (International Archive of Women in Architecture). In 2000, the Verborgene Museum at the Berlin-Pavilion held a retrospective exhibition of her work entitled "Hilde Westrom - Structures 1947-1981."

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

A Settlement Map of Franklin County, Virginia, giving the Names and Locations of Many of the Early Settlers from 1786 to 1886

 Collection — Object 1
Identifier: Map-0229

Historical map of Franklin County, Virginia, is surrounded by historical notes and bordered by names of significant historical figures.

Dates: 1976

Elevation Drawing, South View of "Altenwohnheim" [Retirement Home], March 5, 1964 (Ms1987-061)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1987-061_WestromHilde_ArchitecturalDrawing_1964_0405_145-7

"Glass Ceilings: Highlights from the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center," selected exhibit panels

Identifier: Ms-2011-075

"Glass Ceilings: Highlights from the International Archive of Women in Architecture Center" was an exhibition held at the Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond, Virginia, as part of their Dominion Exhibition Series and was on display from March 4-June 6, 2010. It featured the work of pioneering women in architecture and design from the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) collection at Virginia Tech.

Dates: 2010

Hilde Weström Architectural Collection,

Identifier: Ms-1987-061

This collection contains the paper of Hilde Westrom who was born 1912 in Neisse, Upper Silesia, Germany. She was an architect of Berlin, Germany. The materials in the collection include biographical information, articles, photographs of Westrom and her designs, and architectural drawings for nine projects (1954-1970).

Dates: 1952 - 2000