The heart of the Bauhaus-Movement

Let us together create the new building of the future,
which will be everything in one form: architecture and sculpture and painting.

Walter Gropius


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As you arrive with the regional train from Berlin and walk out of the east exit and towards the Bauhaus building - the building rises triumphal as a landmark in the city of Dessau. In 1924, the building was built in the middle of  farmland where only potatoes were the harvest. Today, the building is surrounded by residential buildings, schools, shops, and a few restaurants. As you approach the tall glass building, you quickly realize that this is an iconic building and it is no surprise that the school - built to teach the students to be creative – became a masterpiece itself.

Architectural masterpieces usually do not have huge letters on the façade that proclaim who they are. That belongs to a burger chain or a construction center. But the letters 'BAUHAUS', which are in black letters over the red front door, highlights the brand ethos! Gropius was excellent to brand the school's own typeface to the Bauhaus Movement – although it was never his intention to create a 'trademark of modernism.' When Gropius flew out of Germany, he forgot to protect the 'Bauhaus' brand as the trademark, that’s why you can buy everything from bulbs to screws in the DIY construction center Bauhaus today.

Dessau Bauhaus Facade Littlemycph.JPG

From the outside, the building looks like a streamlined concrete machine with massive glass façade from floor to ceiling. When you enter through the red door and walk into the former workshop studios, you are greeted by daylight shining into each room even on a gray day when I visited the building. Inside, each room is dominated by free-standing white beams and pillars, and you get the feeling of a recent vibrant workshop filled with active students. One of the famous students, Marianne Brandt, who started in 1923 at the age of 31 was the first female student at the metal school (Metallwerkstatt). Under the leadership of the Hungarian teacher Moholy-Nagy, Brandt was introduced to the functionalist design concepts that were the epitome of the Bauhaus movement. She embraced the principles with great enthusiasm. And one of her iconic objects from her study time at the Bauhaus School is a geometric brass tea-pot with ebony. I have dreamt of owning it for years. However, the price tag keeps me away from investing in the tea-pot, as I rarely drink tea.

Architecture begins where engineering ends

Walter Gropius

The Bauhaus movement was founded by Walter Gropius as an art school in Weimar in 1919 with a vision to reconcile arts and crafts and combine various design disciplines such as theater, architecture, design, print, ceramics, metal, painting, weaving, textile and stone wooden sculpture. In 1926, Gropius decided to move the school from Weimar to Dessau as he was passionate about functionalism and industrialism and wanted to unite art and industry under the slogan 'art and technology, a new unity.'

Gropius had met Hugo Junkers, who owned Junkers Flugzeugwerk, located within a short distance to the school. They became friends, and their friendship was of great significance for the shift in the program that happened during the years in Dessau and until its sudden shutdown in 1933 by the Nazis as they believed the school published socialist propaganda material. Many of the prominent teachers emigrated to other European countries, but Gropius and Mies van der Rohe traveled across the Atlantic to the United States. They both created an international architectural and design career until their death. Junkers Flugzeugwerk is closed today. However, the former factory serves as a small Technik Museum, which is a witness of the heydays of Dessau's industrialism.

My favorite color is colorful.

     Walter Gropius

Besides a visit to the main building, it is a must to visit the four 'Meisterhäuser' when in Dessau. The houses were built for the founder of the school, Walter Gropius, and the teachers Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Lászlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Oskar Schlemmer. They are located side by side at Ebertallee about 10 minutes’ walk from the main building. You can visit the houses to see an architectural gem. Or get inspired for your next wall painting project, as the Bauhaus School was excellent in using the color scale from red to green to blue tones as a means to emphasize the shape of an object.  Or you can walk around and imagine what a party the gentlemen have had back in the 1920s.

People’s needs instead of luxury needs

Walter Gropius

If you are not fed up with architecture yet, you should get on the Bauhaus bus that will bring you to the Siedlung Törten buildings; it’s worth a visit. The apartments were built in 1926-28 with the aim of creating 'light, air and sun' for the residents. After World War II, there was a demand for cheap housing due to housing shortages, as a lot of homes had been destroyed during the war. With the construction of Siedlung Törten, Gropius realized his dream of building the modern housing for the people. There is a unique atmosphere in the area. However, the green plastic containers located outside each house testifies that we are writing the year 2018, and have to sort out our plastic and paper. In the 1920s, each home had its own little garden so that they could grow chickens and vegetables and thus be self-sufficient. The day I visited Törten we did not hear any noisy hens.

The mind is like an umbrella. It’s most useful when open

Walter Gropius

The 100th anniversary will be celebrated next year in Germany with many special events in Dessau, as well as three new Bauhaus museums. In Dessau, the Bauhaus Museum will be located in the city's Stadtpark, situated on the other side of the railroad tracks in the town. The 22 Euro million expensive museum was designed by the small Spanish architectural firm González Hinz Zabala, who won the architectural competition with their light glass and concrete construction with reliable references to the main building. In the black box floating underneath the ceiling, the museum will showcase Bauhaus objects and photographs that have previously been stored away from the public due to the lack of display options. The museum opens in September 2019. In addition to the new museum in Dessau, there is also a Bauhaus Museum in Weimar (March 2019), and Berlin (2020) built next to the existing Bauhaus Archive. In Denmark, the 100th anniversary will be marked with several exhibitions at Designmuseum Denmark and the National Gallery.

Dessau Master House Littlemycph.JPG


when in Dessau

  • Fly to Schönefeld Airport; From there, catch a direct regional train to Dessau (it takes about 2 hours)

  •  In short distance from Dessau station, you can book yourself into the Radisson Blu Hotel Fürst Leopold.

  • When hungry dine in the best Bauhaus style restaurant at Tobi ornot ToBe

  •  But don’t forget to take the Bauhaus bus to Kornhaus and have lunch in the historic premises.

  • Before your journey remember to book a guided tour for the Bauhaus School. My guide Vincent was terrific. 

  • Keep an eye on what's happening

I was invited by the German Tourist Office to visit Dessau.

Mette Willert