What's going on in ... ? - German for beginners in 11 episodes

The House

The half-timbered house "Hauptstraße 117" was built in 1885 in Velbert-Langenberg, a typical German small town in the Rhineland on the outskirts of the Ruhrarea.

Half-timbered houses are typical for this region. They are built using a wooden frame, which is then filled in with either clay and straw or bricks. The predominantly black-and-white facades are what strikes one at first glance.The more expensive version of this kind of house hides the fabric:  a panelling with grey slate is characteristic for town houses. Sometimes you can find decorative facades consisting of neoclassical wooden facade panelling, like that of "Hauptstraße 117".
The old houses have often lost their former splendour.What used to be representative buildings were converted into tenement blocks. The flats in these old buildings offer little comfort with their provisional converted bathrooms, draughty windows and lack of private space. As such they serve as cheap housing in heavily populated urban areas, in which apartments are scarce and expensive.

Nevertheless, more and more older buildings are being renovated since a law which generally prohibits demolishing historic landmarks was enacted. The modernized older buildings are often highly sought after, expensive apartments, however. Since old buildings are occassionally renovated one floor at a time, socially very diverse households live side by side, representing the many facets of German life. "Hauptstraße 117"  is just such a house, being found for this reason worthy of being featured in a TV series.
The renovation process can be clearly seen in the series. At the beginning the windows on the ground floor have not yet been rebuilt in the historic style of the house at the beginning. In the final episode a house painter is seen working, the windows have been replaced and a concerned tenant worried about a rent increase is shown.

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