Rosenthal Porcelain Factory

Alexander Feig Fotodesign.

The small town of Selb in Bavaria’s Fichtel Mountains is home to the Rosenthal Porcelain Factory, one of the most important late works of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. He designed the modern industrial building together with his American architectural firm, The Architects Collaborative (TAC). The impressive building, which opened in 1967, is seen as having paved the way for the industrial architecture of the post-war era and is a rare example of Bauhaus architecture in Bavaria.

The single-storey reinforced concrete frame building clearly speaks the modern architectural language typical of Gropius and the Bauhaus, with its clear forms, light-filled spaces, high windows and flat roofs. The factory building is functional and straightforward yet also comes across as open and inviting. The design of the entrance portal to the site is particularly striking, with its distinctive wing-shaped roof. Within the site, Gropius emphasised the organic. Thus a central point on the site is taken up by an octagonally shaped tropical pavilion, which once even sported flamingos prancing around beneath its glass greenhouse roof.

The complex, which fits within the landscape like a sculpture, also has a two-storey building devoted to after-work relaxation, with a canteen, table-tennis tables and a library. So this worker-friendly, progressively designed production site is, on the one hand, a practical manifestation of the idea of a holistically and humanely designed living and working environment that Gropius propagated in his later work. And on the other hand, it is the result of close collaboration with the client, Philip Rosenthal. A social democrat and entrepreneur, Rosenthal also worked in porcelain manufacturing with other architects, artists and product designers. Like Gropius, he stressed and promoted the social function of architecture and design.

The friendship between Gropius and Rosenthal also resulted in the creation of the TAC porcelain series, which has been regarded as a design classic ever since 1969. In addition, Gropius designed a glass factory for the Rosenthal corporation in the nearby town of Amberg. Since 2018, a special exhibition in Amberg’s municipal museum provides information about the two buildings Gropius built for Rosenthal. The factory in Selb, which is a listed historic building, is still in operation and can only be viewed from outside. [KM/DK]


Contact and opening hours


Rosenthal am Rothbühl
Geheimrat-Rosenthal-Straße 71
95100 Selb

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Rosenthal am Rothbühl
Alexander Feig Fotodesign.
Alexander Feig Fotodesign.

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