Bauhaus: Dessau

Welcome to my second blog post celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus! In this post, we will be travelling to the city of Dessau – about a 2 hour drive/train journey from Berlin. If you remember from my post about Weimar, Dessau was the second location for the Bauhaus School operating there between 1925 to 1932.

It is also where you will find this building:

Bauhaus Museum 6

I divided my post about Weimar into the various things you could do in the city including, of course, anything Bauhaus. For this post, however, I’m just going to focus on the two main Bauhaus sites. This is primarily because I only spent one day in the city and spent the entire time seeing everything Bauhaus. At the end of the post, I’ll include some further information on why both sites have been World Heritage listed.

Bauhaus Stairs

Bauhaus Building

I highly recommend starting any trip to Dessau with a visit to this museum/heritage place. Not only does it offer everything Bauhaus you could possibly need, but, tours run from here to the Masters’ Houses. It is such an impressive building really juxtaposed against the quaint city. It was designed by Walter Gropius and commissioned by the city of Dessau. What makes this building particularly impressive is its large glass walls and windows. The idea behind this design was to provide a sense of transparency. It also has rooms for 28 boarding lecturers and students with protruding balconies, as you can see in the photograph below. When I visited, back in 2012, you could spend the night in one of these rooms. It would have been an amazing experience.

Student Balcony

Inside, you can learn all about the Bauhaus School and view an impressive number of Bauhaus-related objects including, my personal favourite, furniture. After taking copious amounts of photographs of me on the stairs, I joined a guided tour to visit some of the other locations in the building including the cafeteria and the stage. There is a guided tour offered in English on Fridays between March and October at 12 pm. If you are unable to attend this very specific time, I highly recommend going on a guided tour in German. They run daily at 11 am and 2 pm (also at 12 pm and 4 pm on weekends) and cost € 5. Even if you don’t speak German, it is a great opportunity to see these locations and chances are you’ll pick up on a few phrases before the tour is over.

Famous Stairs

Gropius Desk Weimar
The desk of Walter Gropius

Entry tickets to the museum are € 8.50 for adults and € 4.50 for concessions. Entrance is free for those under 18. I opted for a combination ticket that also included a tour of the Masters’ Houses and entrance to their exhibitions. This is well worth purchasing if you plan on spending the day in Dessau and is only an extra € 4.50.

Masters’ Houses

On the tour of the Masters’ Houses, you are able to admire both the exterior and interior of the houses that once belonged to individuals such as Walter Gropious and Paul Klee/Wassily Kandinsky. They are all built in a complex that is based on the modular principle using prefabricated components. In other words, they all look like interlocking cubic structures.

Kadinsky's House 2

When I visited, there was some reconstruction taking place on the houses that belonged to Klee and Kadinsky. Whilst researching for this piece, I discovered that this reconstruction has been completed and the houses have re-opened. The houses that we were able to enter, Gropius’ house being one of them, were fascinating. The large glass encased studios are stunning and the re-introduction of Bauhaus furniture allows visitors the opportunity to view them as the might have looked during their occupancy.

Kadinsky's House 6
Kadinsky’s House
Klee’s House

Heritage Listing

Along with sites in Weimar, the Dessau Bauhaus locations were inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1996. According to UNESCO, the sites tick three criterion.

Criterion ii – they exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world

There is no doubt that these buildings represent, and are themselves, works of art that reflect the renewal of architecture and design championed by the Bauhaus School. As Modernism is said to go hand-in-hand with Bauhaus, the buildings are also central in understanding this art movement and its influence on the world.

Criterion iv – they are an outstanding example of a type of building which illustrates a significant stage in human history

UNESCO specifically highlights the houses with balcony access in Dessau as a perfect illustration of how Bauhaus hoped to achieve unity between practice and teaching. Also, all buildings in Dessau are clear representatives of the movement and have all the essential Bauhaus components.

Criterion vi – they are directly associated with artistic works of outstanding universal significance

There is obviously a clear link between these buildings and the Bauhaus School which revolutionised design concepts and permeated almost every facet of art and architecture.

Final Thoughts

Similar to Weimar, Dessau will be celebrating 100 years by opening a new museum in September this year. I would love to return to Dessau and spend more time exploring the city and stay in the Bauhaus School overnight. Also, of course, seeing the new museum will be a must.

If you would like to read my post on Weimar, please follow the link here. I only have one more Bauhaus-themed blog post to write. The next post, which I hope to release in September/October, will be focusing on the Bauhaus School in Berlin.

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