The reconstructed Gropius and Moholy-Nagy Master’s Houses in Dessau were re-opened three years ago today. We take a brief look at the originals and their reconstructions.

Dessau, Master's House Klee/Kandinsky, Staircase Klee (Photo: Chrstian Stock/Flickr)
Dessau, Master's House Klee/Kandinsky, Staircase Klee (Photo: Chrstian Stock/Flickr)

The photographs taken by Lucia Moholy of the ensemble of Masters’ Houses in Dessau still influence our image of the Bauhaus and modern architecture to this day. The single director’s house, which was destroyed during the war, and the three double houses for the Bauhaus masters were designed by Walter Gropius and built by his architecture office on an elongated plot with a stock of pine trees.

The outer shape of the buildings, the organisation of their rooms according to their usage and light sources, as well as their interior furnishing with built-in closets and shelves, correspond with the principles of functional building and represent a further development of Gropius’s idea of a “large-scale building set”. 

Masters’ Houses, Double House Northwest Side (Kandinsky-Klee), architecture: Walter Gropius, 1926 / photo: Lucia Moholy. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.
Masters’ Houses, Double House Northwest Side (Kandinsky-Klee), architecture: Walter Gropius, 1926 / photo: Lucia Moholy. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.

The double houses consist of reflections of their respective halves on the same floor plan rotated by 90°, which makes their visual impact highly heterogeneous. To provide structuring for the main buildings, the projecting building elements and/or window embrasures were framed in colour.

The unified overall image of the complex, which was realised according to the requirements of its future inhabitants, contradicts the colourful designs of the interior spaces. These resulted from the individual preferences of the masters and are still seen as evidence of their different characters.

The New Masters’ Houses of Gropius and Moholy-Nagy, architecture: Bruno Fioretti Marquez, 2010-2014 / Photo: Doreen Ritzau, 2015. Bauhaus Dessau Foundation
The New Masters’ Houses of Gropius and Moholy-Nagy, architecture: Bruno Fioretti Marquez, 2010-2014 / Photo: Doreen Ritzau, 2015. Bauhaus Dessau Foundation

The National Socialists’ victory in the local government elections in Dessau in 1932 led to the closure of the Bauhaus. As a result the artists left their homes in the complex of Masters’ Houses. Shortly before the end of the Second World War the houses of Walter Gropius and Lázló Moholy-Nagy were completely destroyed in an air raid.

In 2014 the Berlin-based architects Bruno Fioretti Marquez (BFM) replaced the missing buildings with contemporary interpretations. Based on an “architecture of imprecision” these autonomous buildings allow for clear differentiation between original and new interpretation.

 

TIP

Within the framework of the Bauhaus Residence program of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, the first painter in 84 years was working in the Master's Houses. The Austrian artist Clemens Krauss will finish his two-month residence in Dessau with the presentation "Wash me, but please don’t make me wet".

On the occasion of the International Museum Day the art historian Julia Rosenbaum invites you to a "Studio Visit" with Clemens Krauss.

When?
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 4 pm

Where?
Ensemble of the Master's Houses
House Schlemmer
Ebertallee 67
06846 Dessau, Germany

 

Literature:
Rehm, Robin (2009): The Paradigm of the New Building. The Dessau's Master's Houses, in: Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model, publ. by Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Exhibition Catalogue, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, pg. 199.202.
Wingler, Hans M. (1997): Walter Gropius, Bauhausbauten Dessau, Berlin (Neue Bauhausbücher).