Dessau Employment Office
The Employment Office in Dessau (1929) by Walter Gropius is an outstanding example of functionalist architecture. It also represented a completely new building type in its day, which was made necessary by modern industrial society, with its need for the efficient management and recruitment of labour. Mass unemployment that began in the 1920s further increased the need. In order to streamline the government agency’s complex procedures, Walter Gropius used its internal organisation as the basis for developing the layout of the office.
During his last days as director of the Dessau Bauhaus, Gropius won a competition for the employment office and was then awarded the commission. Participation in the competition had been limited to three prominent architects: Walter Gropius, Hugo Häring and Max Taut.
Gropius designed the building with two different parts for the administration and the job seekers. A salient feature is the single-storey semicircular building at the front, which enable as many as two thousand people a day to be efficiently channelled through the bureaucratic process. The semicircular building was divided into six sectors with separate entrances, which made it possible to sort the job seekers in advance by gender and profession. The waiting rooms were in the outer ring, surrounding a second ring with the offices of the employment agents. Those who received a job left the building via the inner ring, without needing to go back past those who were still waiting. Adjoining this is a two-storey block with the administrative offices.
Gropius used the latest materials for the building. He designed it with a steel structural frame clad by a non-bearing façade made of yellow clinker brick, and he also installed a modern ventilation system. The building originally had no windows – the window openings visible today were retrofitted in 1936 – but it was nevertheless bright and awash with light inside. Daylight reached the interiors via glass sawtooth roofs and skylight bands that made for a pleasant atmosphere.
The onset of the Second World War thwarted the Nazis’ plans to demolish the building, which was fortunately also spared from war damage. The building was refurbished from 2002 to 2003 and serves today as the Office for Public Safety and Regulations for the City of Dessau-Roßlau. [KS/DK]
Contact and opening hours
AddressAmt für öffentliche Sicherheit und Ordnung