Soon, the Grand Tour of Modernism will have its own website that lists all the Sites of Modernism, assembled by a jury of experts. The top 100 sites culled from this list will be promoted as tourist attractions. In the centenary year, those with an interest in architecture can visit the sites on individually compiled itineraries.

Haus Schminke, Architektur: Hans Scharoun, 1932–33, Foto: Ralf Ganter. Stiftung Haus Schminke.
Haus Schminke, Architektur: Hans Scharoun, 1932–33, Foto: Ralf Ganter. Stiftung Haus Schminke.

The handpicked jury from the fields of building culture, historic preservation, architecture, journalism, cultural education and tourism was in agreement that smaller, unknown “Sites of Modernism” belong on the shortlist for the Grand Tour. To mark the centenary year of the Bauhaus in 2019, the idea was to have one or more grand tours that guide those interested to places throughout Germany where outstanding modernist buildings – built between 1900 and 2000 – are found. The Grand Tour of Modernism – as the project is called – is one of the showcase efforts of the major centenary campaign launched by the Bauhaus Association 2019, an alliance of the three state-owned Bauhaus sites in Germany.

The jury had defined in advance the criteria for this visionary project: a reform to social aspects of the living environment should have occurred in these places, the special achievements of an important architect should be recognizable, and new building tasks should have been mastered, especially as part of the concept of life reform. Furthermore, urban design impact and the educational aspect play a role – and ultimately, reachability and accessibility are decisive criteria.

Zeche Zollverein, Essen / Photo: © TILLMANN FRANZEN, TILLMANFRANZEN.COM
Zeche Zollverein, Essen / Photo: © TILLMANN FRANZEN, TILLMANFRANZEN.COM

The jury did not make things easy for itself, reports Antje Horn, project manager of the Grand Tour. The group convened several times and, in the end – not to everyone’s satisfaction, a compromise was found: out of 460 submissions and proposals from all 16 German states, a list was assembled with more than 150 sites; it is an architectural and scientific compendium of places that German experts deem “Sites of Modernism”. Included from the outset were all the relevant UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, the Völklingen Ironworks in Saarland and the Zollverein Coal Mine Complex in Essen. Antje Horn describes the selection as “a healthy mix of known places and new discoveries”.

In the form of a project website, the selected sites will now be made as easily accessible as possible, providing materials and information about the individual works, enabling one to draw cross-connections between individual architects and making it possible to comprehend various periods of time. A means to filter the list – by state, name or architectural style, for example – is also envisaged.

Further pursuit of this vision is only possible through close cooperation with regional, supra-regional and even international tourism experts, and thanks to a well-developed network that has taken form in recent years, that is already fully in effect. With reference to the motto of “100 Years – 100 Sites”, Antje Horn explains the next steps: cull 100 locations from the jury’s list and then promote them – via the German National Tourist Board, for example. It is planned to give visitors to the website multiple opportunities to approach the narrative of the Grand Tour in varied ways. Thus partial routes are planned for weekend tourists, educational trips to the so-called core states – that is, the German states in which there are a particularly large number of sites, especially in clusters.

“Some places now only want to participate under certain conditions”, says Horn. Guided tours need to be organised, signage systems funded and infrastructure established. Each site tells a different story – and the mammoth task of the project in the run-up to the 2019 centenary will be to provide an individual solution for each of those needs. 

[CG 2018, Translation: DK]