dinsdag, augustus 18, 2015

Meisterhäuser, Dessau #1

Bauhaussiedlung Dessau, Doppelwohnhaus, 1926.

Haus Klee-Kandinsky, 1926.

"The Bauhaus occupies a place of its own in the history of 20th century culture, architecture, design, art and new media. One of the first schools of design, it brought together a number of the most outstanding contemporary architects and artists and was not only an innovative training centre but also a place of production and a focus of international debate. At a time when industrial society was in the grip of a crisis, the Bauhaus stood almost alone in asking how the modernisation process could be mastered by means of design.

Founded in Weimar in 1919, the Bauhaus rallied masters and students who sought to reverse the split between art and production by returning to the crafts as the foundation of all artistic activity and developing exemplary designs for objects and spaces that were to form part of a more human future society. Following intense internal debate, in 1923 the Bauhaus turned its attention to industry under its founder and first director Walter Gropius (1883–1969). The major exhibition which opened in 1923, reflecting the revised principle of art and technology as a new unity, spanned the full spectrum of Bauhaus work. The Haus Am Horn provided a glimpse of a residential building of the future.
In 1924 funding for the Bauhaus was cut so drastically at the instigation of conservative forces that it had to seek a new home. The Bauhaus moved to Dessau at a time of rising economic fortunes, becoming the municipally funded School of Design. Almost all masters moved with it. Former students became junior masters in charge of the workshops. Famous works of art and architecture and influential designs were produced in Dessau in the years from 1926 to 1932.

Walter Gropius resigned as director on 1st April 1928 under the pressure of constant struggles for the Bauhaus survival. He was succeeded by the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer (1889–1954) whose work sought to shape a harmonious society. Cost-cutting industrial mass production was to make products affordable for the masses. Despite his successes, Hannes Meyer’s Marxist convictions became a problem for the city council amidst the political turbulence of Germany in 1929, and the following year he was removed from his post.

Under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) the Bauhaus developed from 1930 into a technical school of architecture with subsidiary art and workshop departments. After the Nazis became the biggest party in Dessau at the elections, the Bauhaus was forced to move in September 1932. It moved to Berlin but only lasted for a short time longer. The Bauhaus dissolved itself under pressure from the Nazis in 1933." (bron: Bauhaus Dessau)

Meisterhäuser, 1926.

"When the Bauhaus school moved from Weimar to Dessau in 1925, Walter Gropius finally had the chance to build. Funded by the Dessau-based aircraft manufacturer Hugo Junkers, the famous Bauhaus building and, a few hundred metres away, the four “Meisterhäuser” (Masters’ Houses) for the Bauhaus’ lecturers and their families, were built within a year. The artistic power which formed the basis for the Bauhaus myth, that persists even today, is underlined when one looks at the names of these lecturers: Gropius himself – who moved into the “Director’s house”, László Moholy-Nagy, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Muche, Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee – each inhabiting one half of the three smaller semi-detached houses.

Both the main building and the Masters’ Houses were built as demonstrations of “modern living”: composed of clear, cubic forms with large windows, their simple, spare aesthetic carried through from their façades to their door handles, shelves, chairs, kitchens and laundry devices. Gropius and his wife Ise, who would actually only live in their house for two years, were continuously demonstrating to visitors and guests the efficiency and hygiene that this new way of living was designed for – even producing a film were Ise shows the audience around their kitchen.

Yet the ensemble of these four houses also demonstrates how hierarchical an institution the Bauhaus still was. While the six masters each had a fairly modest semi-detached house, Bauhaus Director Gropius built himself a much larger house, akin to a villa. It was to include servants’ rooms as well as a garage – for his official car in which he was driven around by a chauffeur. The semi-detached houses by contrast offered their inhabitants basic accommodation. And while they were sited together amongst a small existing forest, the director’s villa had a massive two metre-high wall encircling it, carving out a private garden.

Before the Bauhaus Dessau was closed by the NSDAP in 1932, the political struggles of the time had already resulted in the Gropius House hosting three different directors as inhabitants: for Gropius resigned in 1928, Hannes Meyer took over but just for two years, and he was followed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1930. For reasons largely unknown, Mies added a little kiosk for non-alcoholic drinks into Gropius’ fortress-like wall where it faced onto the city – perhaps to make a slightly more welcoming gesture to locals other than just brute blankness." (bron: uncube)

Haus Gropius, 1926. (foto's: Lucia Moholy, bron: Lempertz, Lempertz, wbw)

Walter and Ise Gropius, demonstratively comfy in their demonstratively “modern” living room. (bron: uncube, foto: Lucia Moholy)

> Bauhaus Dessau
> Bauhaus Online
> Meisterhäuser

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