Bauhaus in the making

Three new Bauhaus buildings

Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau / chezweitz 2019
Bauhaus Museum Dessau, Versuchsstätte Bauhaus. The Collection, Interior visualization Südraum

Weimar: What value does architecture have to a new generation?

A new cultural quarter has developed around the Bauhaus Museum Weimar, spanning a period from the late 19th century, through the ambivalent history of Modernity and on to the present day.

The Bauhaus Museum was presented to the general public in early April of this year, almost exactly 100 years after the State of Thuringia founded the Bauhaus. It is a core element of the new cultural quarter, as the building spans a period from the late 19th century, through the ambivalent history of Modernity and on to the present day: the museum is situated at the edge of Weimar’s 

Weimarhallenpark and opposite the authoritarian architecture of the former National Socialist “Gauforum”. It is a special location that exists in a field of tension between politics, history and cultures.

The location and its new building by the architect Heike Hanada had a polarising effect: Die WELT found the building and “its architecture all too plain.” By contrast, the architectural magazine DETAIL described a “radical, timeless framework for the exhibits”.

The architect of the new museum, Heike Hanada, drew her inspiration for the accomplished and beautiful design from the principles of the Bauhaus. A museum building could hardly be any more functional. The architect assumes responsibility, since her architecture is calm, naturally focusing on the exhibit as the museum’s centre of attention. It quickly became apparent how little the general public agreed with the criticism from conservative media: by July, more than 100,000 visitors had come to see the museum. The success is pleasing since the museum is nothing without its visitors.

In Weimar, architecture and design enthusiasts can discover the beginnings of the Bauhaus. Visitors to the new Bauhaus Museum are invited to ask: what can architecture and design achieve? What value do architecture and design have to our generation? How have Bauhaus ideas changed our society? The cultural city of Weimar is a wonderful place to find answers to those questions.

Andrea Alberts, © heike hanada laboratory of art and architecture 2019
The Bauhaus Museum at night

Dessau: How to tell stories in stone and glass

The Bauhaus experienced its heyday after moving to Dessau in 1925. The period saw the production of furniture out of simple tubular steel, creating a lightness that had never been seen before. Today, every child knows the “Freischwinger”, a chair that only stands on two legs. The furniture designed in Dessau is an important detail for the sustainable, outstanding success of the Bauhaus. The artists, craftsmen and craftswomen not only designed a new architecture, but also conceived buildings and their uses in a completely new way. Every cubic metre was critically analysed and redesigned. Everything was questioned. The city provided support in further developing the idea of the Bauhaus: the new Bauhaus building, which was funded by the city and erected according to plans by Walter Gropius, was opened as early as 1926.

The Bauhaus Museum Dessau will present the second largest Bauhaus collection when it opens in early September 2019. The new building was conceived by addenda architects (González Hinz Zabala), a Barcelona-based architectural office. The design was chosen from among 831 submissions during an open, international competition.

The architectural office’s location is another indication of the continued relevance of the Bauhaus today. What we experience today with the integrative idea of European collaboration was already conceived and tested a hundred years ago.

addenda architects use the formal language of Modernity for the new buildings, which can be found everywhere in contemporary architecture. However, the Spanish planners avoided the mistake of copying the Bauhaus, instead demonstrating through their architecture the influence that Gropius and his collaborators still enjoy today.

From September 2019, the museum will present the story of how the ideas of the Bauhaus still influence our everyday lives today and how modern the design, art and architectural approach still is after spreading throughout the world for 100 years.

Gonzalez Hinz Zabala, 2016
Draft Bauhaus Museum Dessau, detail

Berlin: How a transparent tower can sharpen one’s broader view

Since 1979, the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin has been documenting the history of the institution founded by Walter Gropius. Gropius himself designed the Berlin building, which is currently being renovated and extended according to plans by the Berlin architect Volker Staab.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2019, thereby marking the Bauhaus anniversary.

Staab’s task is clearly defined: the aim is to extend the building to include a museum with twice the existing space, to anchor the building more strongly in Berlin’s urban space and to strengthen its presence. Staab and his office have designed a glass tower that is visible from afar and pools all public functions of the new building. It self-confidence and self-perception are a homage to the modern Bauhaus. The tower also serves as an entrance to the lower-lying foyer, which acts as a central area for the museum and event building.

The transparent tower designed by Staab is due to open in 2022. Its planning is impressive. Announcing the decision in favour of Staab’s design, the Cultural Secretary Monika Grütters praised its compelling design, while Berlin’s Senate Building Director Regula Lüscher spoke of a happy day

Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin
Erweiterungsbau Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung: Gläserner Turm als Eingang, Entwurf: Volker Staab Architekten, Berlin.

    [HM 2019; Translation TRB]

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