In 1925 the Bauhaus School moved to Dessau (near Berlin) where the new building was designed by Walter Gropius and completed in 1926.
The Bauhaus School Dessau, 1925-6
Marylouise Blog on Bauhaus Dessau has shown how Gropius' extensive facilities beautifully combined teaching, student housing, staff housing, an auditorium, offices, eating and other social facilities. These sections were all integrated: the school and work shops were connected via a bridge, over the Dessau Road. The administration was located on the lower level of the bridge, and on the upper level was the practice of architects, Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. The flats and the school building were connected via a wing to the communal facilities: assembly hall, theatre and dining room/canteen.
This radically modern building complex was built of starkly rectangular glass and concrete. The construction used the latest technological developments: a skeleton of reinforced concrete with brick workoom-shaped ceilings on the lower level, and roofs covered with asphalt tiles for walking. It was considered a fine piece of architectural design at the time, and is on the World Heritage List now. iainclaridge.net has a link to the most beautiful photographs of the building interiors I have ever seen.
One detached Director's House became home to Gropius for a number of years. Three semi-detached Masters' houses housed the masters. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Lyonel Feininger initially occupied the first semi-detached house; Georg Muche and Oskar Schlemmer lived in the centre one; Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee shared the third. Again nothing was accidental. The masters’ homes were specifically planned to be models for students. Although the building costs were not cheap, students learnt how to create functional, modern, sleek homes. The three homes were all fitted out with a veranda and roof terrace, and all had working space for the artist and his family. Only the inside could be personalised with the artists' favourite colours and fittings. All fittings were of course Bauhaus designed and made.
Bringing the building in on budget was possible only due to the hearty assistance of Bauhaus teachers and students. But it wasn’t their charity. Cooperation in design was explicitly viewed as an ideal means of education.
Many thanks to Bola Sociology Design who indicated that the building has become a youth hostel in Design: Bauhaus Dessau. I don’t suppose the accommodation is grand or the bathrooms private, but visitors do get to see the pared back architecture and minimalistic furniture that Bauhaus students lived in from 1925-1933. The chairs in the hostel’s bedrooms and canteen were of designed by another famous Bauhaus master from the 1920s, Marcel Breuer.
Modern hostel bedroom, using an old student room from Bauhaus days
The Bauhaus’s next very important architectural commission in 1926-7 was an experimental housing project in Dessau’s Torten estate, not far from the School. Following the master architect Le Corbusier, the Bauhaus School felt that architecture should not be tied to any one culture. Architecture should be international in its style, intentionally designed to be mass produced with simplicity and adaptable to all cultures. The rectangle had been regarded as an ideal form by the De Stijl artists, and was fully adopted by the Bauhaus at Torten.
Torten Estate, Dessau
Torten was built with standardised concrete parts, made on site. Gropius was the architect, assisted by Hannes Meyer’s students. The initial construction of each house took only three days. They weren’t the most beautiful homes ever built; the mass produced interiors in particular were very austere! But 314 ordinary families suddenly found that they afford to buy a house and garden for the first time. The estate also contained a block of flats with shops beneath, the Konsum building.
PRESERVE THE MODERN and SBeige blogs visited Torten Estate and found several units were open to visitors. I wish these blogs had provided some internal and external photos. It would be amazing to visit Torten now, some 83 years after Gropius and the students completed their project.
Holier than thou
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