A Visit to Dessau

The town of Dessau and the Bauhaus are inseparably linked to great names like Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. A lodestone for international talent, the Bauhaus also attracted famous artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger, who made their marks on modernist painting from there.

On the 14th of June, 2016, the "Architectural Walks" and "Design" groups set off on our long-planned day trip to Dessau. Our common interest was the Bauhaus, which, despite differing individual focus points, brought the two groups together in perfect symbiosis. We were accompanied by architect Ulf Meyer, whose fascinating narrative during the ride prepared us for our tour of the Bauhaus School, the "Masters' Houses", and other points of interest. He elaborated, for example, on how the Bauhaus was to be understood not only as an architectural, but as a socio-political movement, too, and explained that there was not only ONE Bauhaus architectural type. At the Bauhaus, there were no "subjects" as such - studies and life were woven into one. His explanation about the role of women in the Bauhaus, who primarily taught and worked in the area of handicrafts, was interesting.

Our first port of call was the Bauhausschule Dessau, where we briefly visited the extremely attractive design shop, then went on a tour of the building, including the director's room, once occupied by Walter Gropius. Designer Marianne Brandt's room, the auditorium and the cafeteria followed. Following a group photo in front of the school's entrance, we continued to the Masters' Houses, where lecturers Walter Gropius, Muche/Schlemmer, Kandinsky and Klee lived. After a subsequent lunch in Carl Flieger's Elbe-side Kornhaus (bulit in 1929), we went on to the Städtischen Arbeitsamt (Municipal Employment Office) by Walter Gropius. A sudden cloudburst thwarted a planned walk through Gropius' Törten Estate, and we had to content ourselves with listening to our architect's commentary from the dry shelter of our bus.

Our day trip concluded with a visit to the Federal Environmental Agency by Sauerbruch Hutton, a curved, meandering building with vibrant colouring. A massive glass roof spans a light-flooded atrium, and large plants create the impression of a botanical garden rather than that of a ministry. It was something of an explosion of light and colour after the rather restrained architecture of the Bauhaus.
A conciliatory sun reappeared to end a much-lauded excursion by both groups to Dessau.