Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts tagged ‘Bauhaus’

Before Bauhaus: Alfeld Fagus Factory, UNESCO WHS

Before Germany’s Bauhaus found its first footing in Weimar, there was the Fagus-Werk in Alfeld.

The Fagus factory building is looked upon as the first building in the world for the modern architectural age, and is the predecessor to the elegant 1926 Bauhaus headquarters building in Dessau. Fagus company founder Karl Benscheidt commissioned architect and future Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to create and build a shoe-making factory as an artistic project. Gropius and his collaborator Adolf Meyer stuck with working floor-plans by architect Eduard Werner, and set their sights on new exterior and interior designs. Completed in 1911, the factory’s office building set a new standard for 20th-century industrial architecture with steel and glass construction and tall unsupported windows at the corners of the building.

“Fagus” is Latin for “beech tree”, and shoemaking began with shoe lasts or moulds constructed from beech wood, which were sold and distributed around the world to other companies for the productions of shoes. In the 1920s, Benscheidt developed the turning precision-lathe speeding up production, prompting growth and expansion and elevating the company to world’s top producer of shoe lasts. Today, the building is still a working factory: Fagus creates plastic lasts milled by automated machinery to precise specifications for specific designs by shoe companies. Also on-site is GreCon which produces systems for fire-detection and fire-extinguishing in industrial settings. The Fagus factory building was recognized as “unique living monument” and inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site (Welterbe) in 2011.

With a population of over 20-thousand people, Alfeld is located in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The town’s reach by train is 30-minutes from Hannover or 40-minutes from Göttingen, after which is a short 5- to 10-minute walk from Alfeld(Leine)1 train station to the entrance of the Fagus/GreCon complex. Visitors can walk around the working factory site, stop at the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, sit in the neighbouring café for coffee or tea, and visit the museum dedicated to the building’s origins, the building’s century-long history of shoe-making, and a general history of footwear.

Walter Gropius and others would move to Weimar to establish a centre of art, design, thought, and attitude for Bauhaus in 1919, eight years after inauguration of the Fagus-Werk.

Die Baukunst soll ein Spiegel des Lebens und der Zeit sein. (Architecture should be a mirror to life and its time.) – Walter Gropius.

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Dessau UNESCO WHS: The Bauhaus Building

21st-century Modernity, from 1919 on

The chair or couch on which you sit.
The table on which you’re resting your mobile or pad.
The desk on which your laptop or desktop resides.
The light fixture on your desk or above your head.
The windows in your room, your house, or in the café where you’re reading this.

The “universal” idea of living in a house or apartment with the furnishings we all take for granted from bathroom to bedroom and kitchen to living room is a relatively young idea by historical standards. It’s easy to imagine a time where only the rich upper-class could afford and were allowed to have and live in heated furnished residences, and the poor lower-class lived in unheated homes under damp dirty squalid conditions. Past designs with its heavy stone, porcelain, and ornate decorative components gave way to steel, glass, lightness of space, to favouring function over form. Simpler designs were meant to provide universal access: to the home, and to the essentials which furnished the home.

Bauhaus Dessau

Architect Walter Gropius founded Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919 and became the first Bauhaus director. In 1925, political reasons and oppression forced Bauhaus to move from Weimar to Dessau. Gropius designed the building which when completed in 1926 became the Bauhaus headquarters in Dessau. The building is known as an original work of modernist industrial architecture and an example from the “New Objectivity” (“Neue Sächlichkeit”) movement from the 1920s in Germany. The glass and steel multi-storeyed framework and facade, unsupported fully-windowed corners, and abundant ambient light and open spaces gave the building a distinction as a new kind of architecture, described also as “a new kind of weightless elegance. The building itself was used to illuminate Bauhaus’ key principles including architecture as the product of collaboration between art and technology (following examples provided by industry at the time), active collaboration among all teachers and students, blurring hierarchical lines of “teacher” and “student”, and a seamless merging of work-time inside the studio and personal-time outside.

In 1932, Bauhaus was forced to move again, establishing themselves in Berlin for one year before they were forced to close for good in 1933. The movement didn’t end there, as its practitioners departed for other countries, especially the United States.

Bauhaus served as the “Hochschule für Gestaltung” (School for Design), opening its doors to architects, builders, dancers, designers, painters, photographers, and sculptors. In their unique way, they sought to break staid modes of thinking and from the realms of arts and sciences found new ideas and methods regarding static- and dynamic-forms to living. The new “modernity” established in the early 20th-century persists to this very day.

The Bauhaus Dessau was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

“Man muss um den Bau herum gehen, um seine Körperlichkeit und die Funktion seiner Glieder zu erfassen.”
(“You have to walk around the entire building to appreciate its physicality and functional elements.”)

-Walter Gropius.

“… als eine ‘hohe Schule der Gestaltung’ ist das Bauhaus Dessau kein künstlerisches wohl aber ein soziales Phänomen.”
(“… as a university of design, the Dessau Bauhaus is not an artistic but a social phenomenon.”)

-Hannes Meyer, from “Bauhaus und Gesellschaft”, 1929.

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, SachsenAnhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Marianne Brandt room in the Studio (Preller) Building: 20 square metre student-apartment with hot and cold running water, modern furniture, and portable lighting, all new amenities of the time. The room is a reconstruction based on historical photos which includes Brandt’s gramophone record player.

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, SachsenAnhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Walter Gropius’ office (Bauhaus directorate), 1926. Access with guided tour (in German only).

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Stairwell with two chairs.

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, SachsenAnhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Of glass and steel.

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, SachsenAnhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

A wall of glass, which at the time was a bold concept in architectural design.

Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Facing northwest from the grounds, left to right: workshop wing, studio building (Preller building).

Bauhausgebäude, Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, SachsenAnhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Studio building (Preller building).

Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Balconies, studio building (Preller building).

Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

2019 marks the 100th anniversary year of Bauhaus. “Die Welt sieht Bauhaus”: the world sees Bauhaus, or does Bauhaus see the world?

Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

“Wohin schauen, ruhig sehen.”

Bauhaus, Bauhaus Dessau, Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, UNESCO, World Heritage,

Facing northeast, left to right: north wing, workshop wing, studio building (Preller building).

More Bauhaus

Locations: Weimar 1919-1925, Dessau 1925-1932, Berlin 1932-1933.
Directors: Walter Gropius 1919-1928, Hannes Meyer 1928-1932, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe 1932-1933.

•   Weimar UNESCO WHS: Bauhaus Old and New
•   Weimar, Bauhaus, and UNESCO (Fotoeins Friday)

Thanks to IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus and the city of Dessau-Rosslau for their patronage and access to facilities, and the City-Pension Dessau-Rosslau for their hospitality. IMG- and Sachsen-Anhalt-Tourismus supported my visit to the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt from 25 October to 3 November 2016 inclusive. I also received assistance from the cities of Eisleben, Mansfeld, Dessau, Wittenberg, and Halle (Saale). I made the photos above on 28 October 2016. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at as

Wittenberger Marktplatz, Rathaus, Lutherdenkmal, Stadtkirche Sankt Marien, Marktplatz, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Wittenberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany,

Inside Saxony-Anhalt for Luther 2017 and Bauhaus 2019

I continued a consecutive annual streak going back to 2001.

I’ve set foot inside Germany at least once every year since 2001. I’d already claimed another consecutive year with a short stint in the spring, but autumn “at home” in Germany* solidly confirmed a 16th consecutive year in the country.

As motivation to trace Martin Luther’s footsteps for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 and to learn more about the impact of the Bauhaus art and design movement for the centenary in 2019, I embarked on a press-trip in autumn 2016 to the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt to visit these five cities:

•   Dessau – Bauhaus headquarters from 1925-1932;
•   Eisleben – where Luther was born and where he died;
•   Halle an der Saale – Luther’s death mask and hands;
•   Mansfeld (Südharz) – Luther’s formative years in his parents’ house; and
•   Wittenberg – where Luther spent a large part of his career.

The following glimpses offer a preview of my upcoming coverage for each of the five towns.

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Uni-Hauptgebäude, Bauhaus Universität, Weimar, Thüringen, Germany, UNESCO World Heritage, Weltkulturerbe,

Weimar UNESCO WHS: Bauhaus Old and New

There’s a clear transition in time where architecture and design took a step from behind closed doors for the sole purview of the rich and royal and out into the open for public and general consumption. It’s no surprise the years from the end of the 19th-century into the 20th-century marked big changes, with Art Nouveau at the time as part of the Secession movement. Throughout Europe, rebellion and revolution were in the air, economically, politically, and culturally.

The Bauhaus movement also helped initiate a conversation, creating and fostering a relationship between industry’s machinery and artistic or cultural creativity. Bauhaus opened in Weimar in 1919, before moving to Dessau and Berlin. The rise of the National Socialists deemed Bauhaus “degenerate” and did all they could to eliminate a movement and her people deemed counter to National Socialist policy. With Bauhaus’ forced closure in 1933 by the Nazis, a number of practitioners escaped Germany to other parts of the world, including the United States and Argentina.

For their deep and wide-ranging influence on 20th-century art, architecture, and design, an incomplete list of names includes Martin Gropius, Lyonel Feininger, Gerhard Marcks, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Oskar Schlemmer, Herbert Bayer, Irene Bayer (née Hecht), Karla Grosch, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, etc. In particular, László Moholy-Nagy would move to Chicago in the United States and established in 1937 the New Bauhaus which became the Institute of Design in 1944.

Tucked away on a university campus a few minutes south of the Weimar city centre, two important building lie across from each other: the Saxony Academy of Art1 building and the Grand Ducal Saxony School of Arts and Crafts (College of Applied Arts)2. The former is now the main building for the present-day Bauhaus University, and the latter now houses Bauhaus University’s Faculty of Design. In 1996, these two buildings formed a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) listing and designation for Bauhaus sites in Weimar and Dessau.

1 Grossherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstschule Weimar.
2 Grossherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule Weimar, “Winkelbau”.

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Central staircase, main building, Bauhaus Universität, Weimar, Germany, UNESCO World Heritage Site, UNESCO Weltkulturerbe,

Fotoeins Friday: Weimar, Bauhaus, and UNESCO

Built in 1911 by Dutch architect Henry van de Velde as the School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar, the present-day main building of the Bauhaus University represents the beginning of the Bauhaus movement here in 1919. The photo above highlights the simple elegance of the central spiraling staircase in what is also known as the van-de-Velde building. One key highlight about the “Bauhaus movement” was a shift from decorative elements to functional forms “inside and outside.” For their important contributions to modern architecture and design, UNESCO awarded World Heritage Site status to the Bauhaus sites in Weimar and Dessau in 1996.

Thanks to Weimar Tourism, Thüringen Tourismus, Germany National Tourism Board for access to places and activities in the city; and to Dorint Hotel am Goethepark for a comfortable and welcoming stay. I made this photo above on 30 April 2015 with the Canon 6D, EF 24-105 L IS zoom-lens, and the following settings: 1/250s, f/4, ISO500, and 32mm focal length. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at as

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