The Bauhaus Notes

The Bauhaus Notes Architecturearchitecture When Walter Gropius resigned as the head of the Bauhaus in 1930, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969) became its director, moving it to Berlin before political pressures forced it to close in 1933. In his architecture and furniture he made a clear and elegant statement of the International Style, so much so that his work had enormous influence on modern architecture. Taking his motto less is more and calling his architecture skin and bones, his aesthetic was already fully formed in the model for a glass skyscraper office building he concieved in 1921. Working with glass provided him with new freedom and many new possiblities. In the glass model, three irreguarly shaped towers flow outward from a central court.

The perimeter walls are wholly transparent, the regular horizontal patterning of the cantilevered floor panes and their thin vertical supporting elements. The weblike delicacy of the lines of the glass model, its radiance, and the illusion of movement created by reflection and by light changes seen through it prefigure many of the glass skyscrapers of major cities throughout the world. ]previous[ ]next[ Architecture architecture Georg Muche’s Haus am Horn, the model house for the Bauhaus exibition in 1923, was the first house he had ever designed. It is an extraordinary little Modernist Villa, classical in its own way. As the floor plan shows, it was designed for a single family with young children and no servants.

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The living room stands at the centre of the house, surrounded by all the other, much smaller rooms and lit by clerestory windows above. The surrounding rooms are linked in a logical way for middle-class households (the man’s and the woman’s rooms both lead into the bathroom, the womans room connects with the nursery and so on). Muche became as fascinated by the idea of low cost, quick assembly prefabricated buildings as Gropius and Meyer. In 1925 they designed a house that could be assembled simply from steel panels. ]previous[ ]next[ Architecturearchitecture When Walter Gropius resigned as the head of the Bauhaus in 1930, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969) became its director, moving it to Berlin before political pressures forced it to close in 1933.

In his architecture and furniture he made a clear and elegant statement of the International Style, so much so that his work had enormous influence on modern architecture. Taking his motto less is more and calling his architecture skin and bones, his aesthetic was already fully formed in the model for a glass skyscraper office building he concieved in 1921. Working with glass provided him with new freedom and many new possiblities. In the glass model, three irreguarly shaped towers flow outward from a central court. The perimeter walls are wholly transparent, the regular horizontal patterning of the cantilevered floor panes and their thin vertical supporting elements.

The weblike delicacy of the lines of the glass model, its radiance, and the illusion of movement created by reflection and by light changes seen through it prefigure many of the glass skyscrapers of major cities throughout the world. ]previous[ ]next[ Architecturearchitecture ]g a l l e r y[ It was clear from Gropius’s Manifesto that the ultimate aim of the Bauhaus was architecture; the very name Bauhaus suggests it most strongly. Each of the school’s three directors, Gropius, Meyer and Van Der Rohe, were above all an architect and, rightly or wrongly, the Bauhaus has become strongly identified with the architectural approach that has variously been called Modernism, The Modern Movement or the International Style. The debate surrounding Modernism or the new architecture was carried on in terms heavy with moral conotations: truth, purity and honesty. Democracy even entered into it with the attempt to suppress the predominance of one face of the building in favor of buildings that would only be appreciated by walking around or through them.

The structure of the building had to be expressed clearly by its outward appearance. In formal terms, the horizontal was emphasised rather than the imposing verticals of 19th Century public buildings; flat planes were interlocked at right angles and surfaces were rendered white to symbolize purity and clarity. One of the most controversial elements in the german context was the use of the flat roof; the pitched roof was seen in conservative circles as inalienably Germanic. ]next[ Bauhausbauhaus The Bauhaus is not a style; it is a collection of attitudes. The Bauhaus was founded in Weimar Germany in 1919 by the architect [Walter Gropius]. The Bauhaus Manifesto was to unite the teaching of fine art, applied art and architecture in order to educate creative people capable of large sacale collaborative projects or total works of art.

The word Bauhaus is derived from the hausbau meaning construction. Bauhaus implies not only building and construction but also reconstruction. Above all, the Bauhaus is identified with functionalism, which is now seen as the eradication of ornament in favour of the austere beauty of the industrial Aesthetic. The students of the Bauhaus took part in the designing of buildings and fittings. They were encouraged to use their imagination and to experiment boldly yet never to lose sight of the purpose which their designs should serve.

It was at this school that tubular steel chairs and similar furnishings of our daily use were invented. The theories for which the Bauhaus stood for are sometimes condensed in the slogan of functionalism the belief that if something is only designed to fit its purpose we can let beauty look after itself. There is certainly much truth in this belief. But like all slogans it really rests on an oversimplification. The best works of this style are beautiful not only because they happen to fit the function for which they are built but because they were designed by men of tact and taste who knew how to make an object or building fit for its purpose and yet right for the eye. ]next[ Bauhausfurniture ]g a l l e r y[ Bauhaus furniture design was based on the premise that it was necessary to develop new and radically different forms for the pieces of furniture that were to be accepted as the basis of the modern home. Traditional furniture types -the heavy armchair, the mahogany armoire and the bourgeois love of ornamentation were rejected.

The functionalist approach was enthusiastically embraced by the carpentry workshop, as was Gropius’s belief that peoples needs were largely identical. It was therefore the workshops task to provide for those needs in the most definitive and economic way. Given the shortage of housing space in and the mid 1920s fashion for health and hygiene, the goal was to create lightweight, adaptable, multi-purpose furniture in clean, hard materials, soft upholstery was thought to harbour dust and mites. ]next[ Bauhausfurniture Peter Bucking used wood for this lightweight collapsable armchair in 1928. This chair epitomises the Bauhaus aesthetic lightweight, low cost adaptable furniture for the workers housing for which it was premium. The advantage of this chair was that it could be stored and not seen, avoiding the whole aspect of clutter and maximising the use of household space. ]previous[ ]next[ Bauhausfurniture When Hannes Meyer became director in 1928, and Breuer was succeeded as leader of the furniture workshop first by Josef Albers and then by Alfred Arndt, the workshops priorities were realigned. The aim was now to create low-cost multi-purpose, standard furniture. A number of ingenious folding or adjustable work chairs were designed, often using tubular steel and plywood in conjunction.

Alfred Arndts chair 1929-30 which is sometimes attributed to Breuer, folds completely flat so that it can fold up against a wall. ]previous[ ]next[ Bibliography The Bauhaus School Arts and Painting.