Learn about the Bauhaus Building and the Masters' Houses in Dessau.
- [Instructor] In 1924, when support from the school was withdrawn in Weimar, Gropius offered the Bauhaus to other towns in Germany. Dessau, and inspiring industrial city in central Germany, was chosen, and offered the Bauhaus a new school building. Walter Gropius designed the building with other architects and students in his private architectural practice. This provided Gropius with a canvas to apply his theories and ideas. Walter Gropius refined the concepts and ideas he used before World War I in the construction of the Fagus-Werk in Alfeld on the Leine.
In Dessau, he designed the main Bauhaus building with a glass curtain wall suspended in front of the load bearing framework. This defines the exterior of the workshop wing, and reveals the functional elements such as steel supports and window framing. Gropius allowed the glass curtain to run around the corners of the building, reinforcing the idea of transparency and lightness. He separated the Bauhaus building based on the functions of each workshop.
This was contrary to traditional architecture that would incorporate all areas inside of the structure with identical rooms. He arranged the different wings asymmetrically, following modernist tenants. The genius of this, is that it increased the functional opportunities. In order to appreciate the overall design of the complex, the visitor must move around the whole building. There is no central viewpoint, no symmetrical front entrance.
In addition to the multiple wings of the school building, Gropius designed a dorm building. This featured 28 identical studio apartments for students and junior masters. This encouraged students to live on campus, and it enforced a stronger sense of community and equality. The facade of the students dorm has individual balconies on one side, and long balconies that continue around the corner of the building on the other. The campus is painted with light monochromatic white, black, and gray tones, creating contrast to the window frames, and accentuating individual planes of the structure.
Primary colors are used on the interior to also highlight the structure, and accentuate the construction elements of the building. A sight within walking distance of the Bauhaus, was chosen for the directors house, and three houses for the masters. Large windows and simple forms are hallmark design elements. Like the campus buildings, these houses were to demonstrate how new architecture would enrich the life of the individual and family. Gropius' house included a walk-in wardrobe, hot water pressure spray in the kitchen, and a double sofa that could be opened out.
The school closed in 1932, after suffering heavy bomb damage during the war, the building was provisionally repaired. Following the war, Dessau was apart of East Germany. The buildings were restored for the first time in 1976. Further extension restoration was completed in 2006. Today, the campus and master's houses are open for tours, guests may even book a room in the dorms, with furniture matching the original. The student canteen functions as the cafe once again, serving beer and schnitzel.
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