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Hilde Weström Architectural Collection, 1952-2000 (Ms1987-061)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1987-061


  • 1952 - 2000


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Hilde Westrom Architectural Collection must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Biographical/Historical Information

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."

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The Hilde Westrom Architectural Collection were donated to the Special Collections in 1987 by their creator. Additions to the collection were given in 1988, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006.

Alternative Form Available

The Special Collections Imagebase contains photographs of Hilde Westrom from 2000.

Related Material

Additional information about Westrom and her architectural projects is held by the Berlinische Galerie - Landesmuseum fur moderne Kunst, Photografie, und Architektur in Berlin, Germany.

Physical Characteristics

Some materials in the collection were matted for inclusion in "Glass Ceilings: Highlights from the IAWA Center" an exhibit held at the Virginia Center for Architecture, Richmond, VA, 2010.


Born 1912 in Neisse, Upper Silesia, Germany. Architect of Berlin, Germany. Materials include biographical information, articles, photographs of Westrom and her designs, and architectural drawings for nine projects (1954-1970).


The Hilde Westrom Architectural Collection consist of biographical information about Westrom's career and personal life, original watercolors she painted after her retirement, articles written by her and about her, photographs of Westrom and her buildings, architectural drawings for nine of her projects, and some professional conference papers presented by other women at the 1984 UIFA meeting in Berlin.

The biographical information about Westrom includes vitae information and a portfolio scrapbook that lists her major works with accompanying articles and images. The "Interbau" model apartment is featured. In addition to the material about what she created in her professional career, this collection contains six landscape watercolors that Westrom painted during her retirement.

Articles written by Westrom review the situation of housewives and possible house plans for family living. There is also an autobiographical account of her life and philosophy. The articles about her include newspaper articles about her projects in the 1960s and 70s and articles about the exhibition of her work in 2000. Photographs in the collection show Westrom at professional gatherings, as well as a 1957 cornerstone ceremony, interior views of her 1957 "Interbau" model home, and exterior views of buildings, many of which are not identified.

Drawings for nine of Westrom's projects are included in this collection, representing schools, a university dormitory, housing projects, a parsonage, an apartment with an atelier and a home for the elderly. Drawings for each project may include site layouts, elevations, cross-sections and floor plans.

Westrom also retained copies of the papers that speakers presented at the 1984 UIFA Congress held in Berlin. These papers and brief biographical sketches of four Czech women architects are also available in this collection.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Hilde Westrom Architectural Collection was completed in March 2001. Reprocessing for EAD took place in September 2004.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US