The Bauhaus building in Dessau is the built manifesto of a revolution in design and education. Today, the minimalist building complex (1925/26) designed by Walter Gropius is regarded worldwide as the symbol of “white modernism” par excellence. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996.
In 1925, the Bauhaus left its birthplace in Weimar, where the school could not continue to operate due to drastic budget cuts by the right-wing conservative government. The school moved to Dessau, where the city gave it the opportunity, among other things, to erect a new school building of its own. “We want to create buildings as clear, organic bodies, naked and radiant by virtue of their own inherent laws, free of falsehood and extravagancies,” wrote Bauhaus director Walter Gropius in 1923. With the school building in Dessau, he now implemented these ideas rigorously. As early as December 1926, the building opened to great public attention.
Bright white façades, reinforced concrete and glass, and clear geometrical shapes – the exterior of the new school building was a novelty. The glass exterior provides offers an unimpeded view of the structure and the interior.
A clear functional separation between working, studying and living organises the asymmetrically arranged building complex. The complex, which consists of five distinct components, can best be seen in its entirety from a bird’s eye view or on a tour of the building ensemble. The workshop wing – with its famous glass curtain wall and load-bearing reinforced concrete skeleton – and the vocational school rise up 3 storeys. The white, 5-storey studio building housed students and junior masters in 28 studio flats. The building, with its cantilevered balconies, is unmistakable. Many Bauhauslers lived there, including Josef and Anni Albers, Joost Schmidt, Marcel Breuer, Marianne Brandt and Gunta Stölzl.
The workshop wing and the studio building are connected by a single-storey building with a so-called festive area consisting of the auditorium (with the legendary Bauhaus stage) and the canteen, which is still used as such. Finally, a 2-storey bridge that accommodates the administration – including Walter Gropius’s director’s office, which can be visited on guided tours – connects the workshop wing to the vocational school to the north.
In 1932 the National Socialists closed the Bauhaus Dessau. In the following decades, the school complex served various functions. Its international importance as an architectural icon of modernism, however, only slowly gained attention in the GDR from the 1960s onwards. In 1972 the Bauhaus building received protected status as a historic monument and in 1976, on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, the first restoration took place. Its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List was followed by further comprehensive measures between 1996 and 2006. Today, the Bauhaus building is the seat of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and can be visited daily. The studio building offers accommodation in faithfully restored rooms. [KL/DK]
- UNESCO world heritage site
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AddressBauhausgebäude (Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau)
The Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is a non-profit foundation under public law. It is funded by the State of Saxony-Anhalt, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM) and the City of Dessau-Roßlau.