Edmund Collein completed his architecture studies between 1925 and 1927 at the Technical University Darmstadt. Afterwards, he was a Bauhaus student in Dessau until 1930. In the winter semester of 1927/28, he attended the preliminary course taught by László Moholy-Nagy, studied in the carpentry workshop under Marcel Breuer and attended classes with Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Joost Schmidt. In the summer semester of 1928, he studied in the carpentry workshop with Marcel Breuer and Josef Albers. From the winter semester of 1928/29 to the summer semester of 1930, he was in the architecture and interior design department with Hannes Meyer and received the Bauhaus diploma in 1930. On 23rd February 1931, he married the Bauhaus student Lotte Gerson.
Only his photographic work, including photos of the Dessau-Törten housing estate, the Bauhaus Building and Gropius’s architecture studio, has survived from his time at the Bauhaus. In the following years, Collein worked in various architecture offices such as those of K. Kotas, W. Sobotka and G. Schwerthelm until 1940. After military service and a period as a prisoner of war, Collein returned to Berlin in 1945 and worked for the municipal authorities in Berlin. In 1950, he was the co-author of 16 Grundsätze des Städtebaus (16 principles of urban planning) for the GDR. In the 1950s and 1960s, Collein was significantly involved in the implementation of the construction policy guidelines of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) for the cities of Berlin and Magdeburg. He held many official posts, including the vice-presidency of newly founded Deutsche Bauakademie (German building academy) and as chairman of the advisory board for building of the Council of Ministers of the GDR. With his projects, including the second building phase of Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, he set standards for industrial construction in the cities of the GDR.
Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin (Hg.): Bauhaus in Berlin. Bauten und Projekte, Berlin 1995.