Yesterday kicked off the start of the class proper with a train journey to Weimar, one of the oldest cities in Germany and the original home of the Bauhaus. Students were treated to a thorough and enlightening tour of the buildings of the school, which is still a working art and design college. We learned of the long history of the location as it housed many art schools, with the Bauhaus really being only a part of that history. We also saw some historic sites of the city and the lovely country environment. One of the highlights of the tour was being able to stand in the office of Walter Gropius and experience first-hand the realization of his theories in this design based on the cube.
This morning, we caught an early morning train to Dessau, the second home of the Bauhaus. Unlike Weimar, where the school moved into existing buildings, in Dessau, the Bauhaus was able to build its own buildings and used the opportunity to showcase the design principles and techniques of the movement. While much of the existing structure has been recreated (the buildings have suffered neglect, bombing, and misuse since the Dessau Bauhaus closed in 1932 ), there is still an almost indescribable feeling to be standing in the same spot where so much design history was made. In addition to the main buildings, we were also able to see the master houses built for faculty. These living spaces also acted as a showcase of the application of Bauhaus thinking to everyday life.
I’m going to steal a line from one of the students who went to the trip last year (sorry, not sure which one) and say that I learned so much more about the Bauhaus in the past two days that i have in the past twenty odd years of off and on study of the school. Before yesterday, Weimar and Dessau were simply names and I had to work to recall which came first and which (very different) city was which. Now, haven been there, the distinction and sequence of events is clear and makes perfect sense. It’s easy to see why the people of Weimar were disturbed by the strange behavior of the students and faculty. It’s also much clearer to see why the Bauhaus and Dessau had such a symbiotic relationship and the architecture program grew in that environment. These are the types of experiences that make this trip so worthwhile.
The Gropius office in Weimar.
Bauhaus building, Dessau.