Heinrich Tessenow was born on 7 April 1876 as the son of a carpenter.

Heinrich Tessenow was one of the leading and most interesting architects in Germany during the lively intellectual debates of the first decades of our century. His work can be classified as part of the European movement, which originated in England and was perceived as a spiritual reflection and renewal. It was a reflection on values that had been lost in the confusion of historicism and the hectic search for "styles". With his idea of new forms of human life, he turned to housing, especially small housing, in his writings, in his planning and with his buildings.

Through his writings "Wohnungsbau" (1909), "Hausbau und dergleichen" (1916) and "Handwerk und Kleinstadt" (1919) he became known and gained access to important projects, such as working on the first German garden city Hellerau near Dresden. There he was also entrusted with the construction of the Educational Institute for Rhythmic Gymnastics (Dalcroze Institute), in which new educational ideas and revolutionary forms of the performing arts found their own structural expression. Today's Festspielhaus is regarded as a testimony to a new architecture. His residences are characterised by a provocative simplicity.

After Tessenow had already worked as a teacher at the Baugewerkschule in Lüchow and at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Trier and as an assistant to Martin Dülfer at the TH Dresden, he was appointed professor at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna in 1913 and at the Akademie der Künste in Dresden in 1920, where he became head of the architecture department. In 1926 he followed a call to Berlin, where the students of the Technical College had demanded future-oriented teaching by progressive teachers.

In 1925-27 a new school building was built in Klotzsche for the state boarding school, the Saxon Landesschule in Dresden. Tessenow was commissioned with the design and construction in cooperation with the structural engineering department. Among his competition successes and executed buildings, the redesign of Schinkel's "Neue Wache" in Berlin is Tessenow's best-known masterpiece. After his retirement in 1941, he retired to Mecklenburg, where he lived through the end of the war. After the collapse, Tessenow initially worked on reconstruction plans for Mecklenburg towns and Lübeck. In 1947, he was called back to his former chair in Berlin. He died there on 1 November 1950.