Bauhaus
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Architect Walter Gropius
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Location Dessau, Germany   map
Date 1919 to 1925   timeline
Building Type Art and architecture school
 Construction System and glass
Climate temperate
Context urban
Style Modern exemplar
Notes Transparent walls, asymmetrical massing
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Discussion Bauhaus Commentary

Gropius' extensive facilities for the Bauhaus at Dessau combine teaching, student and faculty members' housing, an auditorium, and office spaces. The pinwheel configuration when viewed from the air represents in form the propellers of the airplanes manufactured in the Dessau area. This complex embodies various technological and design oriented advancements including a petchance for glazing, the creation of an architecture of transparency with the supporting structure rising behind the facing skin. It was a radical structure populated by progressive minds touting a unique group-oriented approach to learning.

— Darlene Levy. drawn from S. Giedion. Walter Gropius: Work and Teamwork. p54-56.

"The Bauhaus building provides an important landmark of architectural history, even though it was dependent on earlier projects of the architect...as well as on the basic outlines and concepts of Frank Lloyd Wright.

"It consists of three connected wings or bridges...School and workshop are connected through a two-story bridge, which spans the approach road from Dessau. The administration was located on the lower level of the bridge, and on the upper level was the private office of the two architects, Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, which could be compared to the ship captain's 'command bridge' due to its location. The dormitories and the school building are connected through a wing where the assembly hall and the dining room are located, with a stage between.

"The basic structure of the Bauhaus consists of a clear and carefully thought-out system of connecting wings, which correspond to the internal operating system of the school. The technical construction of the building... is demonstrated by the latest technological development of the time: a skeleton of reinforced concrete with brickwork, mushroom-shaped ceilings on the lower level, and roofs covered with asphalt tile that can be walked upon. The construction area consisted of 42,445 [cubic yards] (32,450 [cubic meters]) and the total cost amounted to 902,500 marks. Such an economical achievement was possible only due to the assistance of the Bauhaus teachers and students, which at the same time, of course, could be viewed as an ideal means of education."

— from Udo Kultermann. Architecture in the 20th Century. p37-38.

The Creator's Words

"One of the outstanding achievements of the new constructional technique has been the abolition of the separating function of the wall. Instead of making the walls the element of support, as in a brick-built house, our new space-saving construction transfers the whole load of the structure to a steel or concrete framework. Thus the role of the walls becomes restricted to that of mere screens stretched between the upright columns of this framework to keep out rain, cold, and noise. ...Systematic technical improvement in steel and concrete, and nicer and nicer calculation of their tensile and compressive strength, are steadily reducing the area occupied by supporting members. This, in turn, naturally leads to a progressively bolder (i.e.wider) opening up of the wall surfaces, which allows rooms to be much better lit. It is, therefore, only logical that the old type of window—a hole that had to be hollowed out of the full thickness of a supporting wall—should be giving place more and more to the continuous horizontal casement, subdivided by thin steel mullions, characteristic of the New Architecture. And as a direct result of the growing preponderance of voids over solids, glass is assuming an ever greater structural importance....In the same way the flat roof is superseding the old penthouse roof with its tiled or slated gables. For its advantages are obvious: (1) light normally shaped top-floor rooms instead of poky attics, darkened by dormers and sloping ceilings, with their almost unutilizable corners; (2) the avoidance of timber rafters, so often the cause of fires; (3) the possibility of turning the top of the house to practical account as a sun loggia, open-air gymnasium, or children's playground; (4) simpler structural provision for subsequent additions, whether as extra stories or new wings; (5) elimination of unnecessary surfaces presented to the action of wind and weather, and therefore less need for repairs; (6) suppression of hanging gutters, external rain-pipes, etc., that often erode rapidly. With the development of air transport the architect will have to pay as much attention to the bird's-eye perspective of his houses as to their elevations. The utilization of flat roofs as 'grounds' offers us a means of re-acclimatizing nature amidst the stony deserts of our great towns;...Seen from the skies, the leafy house-tops of the cities of the future will look like endless chains of hanging gardens."

— Walter Gropius. from Walter Gropius. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. p25-30.

Resources
Sources on Bauhaus

"Two Bauhaus Buildings: A Paradigm Shift", by Darlene Brady, ArchitectureWeek No. 16, 2000.0830, pC1.1.

Sigfried Giedion. Walter Gropius Work and Teamwork. New York: Reinhold Publishing Corp., 1954. NA1088.G85G52. exterior photo of corner of building, p127. exterior photo of workshop wing, p124. p54-56.

Walter Gropius. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Boston, Massachusettes: Charles T. Branford Company, 1955. NA680.G7 1955. p25-30.

Udo Kultermann. Architecture in the 20th Century. New York: Van Nostand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-00942-9. LC 92-26734. NA680.K7913 1993. discussion p37-38.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. exterior photo, massing axonometric drawing, p237. — An inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at Amazon.com

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