They are considered prototypes of “white modernism” and have influenced the image of modern architecture worldwide. Three pairs of semi-detached houses plus a director’s house make up the ensemble of Masters’ Houses from 1925–26. Here, only a few minutes’ walk from the Bauhaus building, the small artists’ colony gave Walter Gropius an early opportunity to implement his architectural ideas. In addition to faithfully restored buildings, the site of the Masters’ Houses now also offers contemporary interpretations of Gropius’s “modular architecture”.
The white houses, set amid pines and deciduous trees, were designed for the Bauhaus masters and their families. In addition to the three Bauhaus directors, their residents included Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, Georg Muche, Anni and Josef Albers, and Lucia and László Moholy-Nagy. Not only the buildings’ prominent inhabitants, but especially their radically modern and oft-published architecture established the ensemble’s legendary reputation. It quickly became the epitome of the New Architecture and the “New Living”.
Above all, the buildings should be functional – which is reflected in the design and placement of the buildings and in the spatial composition, based on functional units and exposure to natural light. In order to orient all the studios to the north, the architect mirrored and rotated the identical halves of the paired houses. Gropius’s design also adopted the idea of a set of “oversized toy building blocks”: By combining standardised building elements and standardised spatial forms, it was possible to create dynamic variation from uniform elements.
Gropius was not only interested in saving time and money by using standardised construction, but also in reshaping everyday life. With functional elements such as built-in cabinets and with new technology and optimised workflows, the buildings became showcases of modern housekeeping.
The houses have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996. In 2014, the ensemble was completed by rebuilding the director’s house and the Moholy-Nagy House, both of which had been destroyed in the Second World War. The architectural firm responsible for the work, Bruno Fioretti Marquez, opted for an “architecture of imprecision” that clearly differentiates between the original buildings and their new interpretations. Mies van der Rohe’s 1932 kiosk, which had subsequently been demolished, was also restored as part of the reconstruction. [FE/DK]
- UNESCO world heritage site
Contact and opening hours
AddressMeisterhäuser (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.