Artists Work

Bauhaus in Russia

Haunted Houses

The following material was produced during the photographic workshop Bauhaus in Russia: Haunted houses, which took place in the framework of the exhibition bauhaus imaginista. Moving Away: The Internationalist Architect at the museum of contemporary art “Garage” in Moscow. The exhibition focuses on the life and work of the Bauhaus architects who moved to the Soviet Union in the 1930s to work on the large-scale construction projects that were part of the first-five-year plans and the problematics this story raises today. Hannes Meyer, the second director of the Baushaus, and the former students who accompanied him—including Konrad Püschel, Philipp Tolziner, Tibor Weiner, Antonín Urban and Béla Scheffler—became employees of Soviet design and planning institutes and studios. They designed standard and individual projects for furniture, housing, college buildings, universities, kindergartens, houses of culture, and produced plans for districts, settlements and regions throughout the USSSR.

Through an open-call we invited participants from several Russian cities to take part in the visual research on both the visible and invisible legacies of the “bauhauslers”: the realized buildings that do not necessarily fit within our expectations of what constitutes a signature “Bauhaus style” and often recede into the fabric of the post-Soviet city, as well as the unrealized projects and the after-lives they attained within local mythology. Every participant received historic and geographic information to assist in deducing the object of documentation (see extracts below), and then chose her or his own approach to how these should be treated.

Tatiana Efrussi
Yuri Palmin


Photo: Kirill Stepanov, 2018.

City master plan (Hannes Meyer)

In 1933–1934 Hannes Meyer headed a brigade of the Moscow city-planning institute Giprogor, where he was employed at that time, to design a new capital for the Jewish Autonomous Region—the city of Birobidzhan. The majority of the project was never completed. The brigade first suggested to move the city center from a swampy low bank of the river Bira to a hilly area on the opposite bank, but for various reasons this never happened. However, one can observe that certain planning proposals did become realized in the city structure: by the end of the 1930s the station had been moved from its initial position and a park of culture and leisure on the semi-island had been developed.

Photo: Kirill Stepanov, 2018.

Kirill Stepanov (Architect, architecture historian):

The term “Bauhaus” has long been used by Birobidzhan’s local historians, guides and representatives of the city’s small intellectual milieu, while Hannes Meyer has become an almost legendary figure. Love for the “beautiful word” and admiration for this exceptionally talented architect in part derives from our nostalgia for the unrealized project of building the first Jewish socialist city in modern history, and for the time when Birobidzhan was not only the geographic center of the Soviet Union, but was also central to world events. Today, however, there are very few material monuments documenting that era left in the city.

The Bauhaus architects involved in the design of the “Far East Zion” (Дальневосточного Сиона), in the 1930s worked on issues distant from the global agenda, such as building a new society or creating a new aesthetic paradigm. The paramount task was to provide workers with a means of subsistence and to bring water to their barracks. This is why half-ruined barracks and their inhabitants take center stage in my series of photographs depicting the ghosts of the Bauhaus in Birobidzhan.

Photos: Kirill Stepanov, 2018.


Sotsgorod Uralmash (with contributions from Béla Scheffler)

From 1932 Béla Scheffler worked in the design department of the Uralmashstroi (a trust that oversaw construction at the Ural machine-building factory, Uralmash). He was employed in the “sotsgorod” (“socialist city,” a district by the factory) construction section of this department, headed by the architect Petr Oranskii. According to later witnesses, Scheffler participated in the design of at least three objects: the main building of the factory administration, the factory club and pavilions of the municipal stadium. He might have also collaborated on designing other projects undertaken by the sotsgorod, including the largescale hotel “Madrid” built for foreign specialists.

Photo: Dmitry Protasevich, 2018.

Dmitry Protasevich (Architect):

Uralmash is a world in itself: it is a district separated from Ekaterinburg by an industrial area originally constructed as part of the building of the new socialist society. At the time when the country embarked on a capitalist path, it became an anchorage for an infamous organized crime group. Even today, compared to the rest of Ekaterinburg districts Uralmash leads in crime statistics. Perhaps, it could be called the “ghost” of an unrealized dream.

By “Bauhaus ghosts” I mean building-shadows: buildings that don’t themselves cast shadows.

Functional architecture as such appears unclaimed by Russia’s “dysfunctional” (disjointed) society. The notion of a simple, laconic architecture remains in the air but such buildings are no longer reproduced and aren’t part of the tradition.

On the contrary, elegant buildings are hidden under signage, ads and other types of “Euro-style renovation.” The straightforward concept of socially significant architecture is overlapped by a bunch of separate eclectic (and often tasteless) statements.

Photo: Dmitry Protasevich, 2018.


Palace of the Soviets project design (Giprovtuz brigade)

Moscow master plan, central part (Hannes Meyer and brigade)

In 1931 the Giprovtuz (Design Institute for Design of Technical Schools) brigade participated in the competition for the Palace of the Soviets building. The brigade consisted of former Bauhaus students Philipp Tolziner, Antonín Urban and Tibor Weiner (with Hannes Meyer serving as consultant). The designs for two auditoria-transformers—for five and fifteen-thousand people respectively—were solved in the functionalist spirit. On the other hand, efforts were made to make the building more “monumental”: the design team included sculpture groups working on propaganda subjects, a giant Lenin statue. There was also a suggestion to decorate the building with precious materials. A focal point of the brigade’s palace design was a spectacular thoroughfare broad enough to accommodate columns of marching demonstrators.

Photo: Mikhail Ekadomov, 2018.

In 1932 Hannes Meyer and his brigade (Izrail’ Geimanson and Peer Bücking) designed a master plan of Moscow for a competition. It envisioned turning the capital into a system of satellite cities while also seriously transforming the city center. They proposed, among other things, constructing two skyscrapers on Red Square that would serve as headquarters of the Party Central committee and the Komintern, a new vast square for demonstrations in the Kitay-gorod area of the Tverskoy District, and enlarging the Moscow river by partially destroying the Bolotny island in order to underline the grandeur of the view from the Kremlin.

Neither of these projects were ever realized: they were both criticized as mechanistic and purely functionalist.

Photo: Mikhail Ekadomov, 2018.

Mikhail Ekadomov (Photographer):

The most challenging thing was shooting that which never existed. The most obvious and promising way was to fix geographical references in compliance with the mapped-out plans and film what is located there today. Early into the shooting process, however, I thought this “game” could be developed further. For instance, we were not entirely sure that the Lenin monument was to be located exactly at a certain point [in contemporary Moscow], but nevertheless, why not make a shot here, where several trees are growing? Or over there, where there is empty space and excursion buses—a passage for demonstrations, cranes sticking out in the air near GUM department store—that’s where the Komintern tower construction site would have been, of course.

Overall, at least for myself, this project has been the pursuit of a phantom, but a fairly controlled phantom who succumbs to my fantasies. Probably, because the whole of Moscow is just like that, not ruled by the dictate of the eternal, but ever-changing and impermanent instead.

Photo: Mikhail Ekadomov, 2018.


Former Industrial Academy on Novoslobodskaya (with contributions from Philipp Tolziner); Motor Teaching Block of Moscow Aviation Institute (Konrad Püschel); Aeroport metro station (with contributions from Tibor Weiner), International Red Aid (MOPR) Pavilion (with contributions from Max Kraevsky)

In the mid-1930s Moscow was turned into a large-scale construction site, the most prestigious in the country. In 1933–34 Philipp Tolziner, who was employed at the Giprovtuz (called Vuzstroyproekt since 1932) worked on a commission in the Soviet capital to build an Industrial academy on Bor’by Square. As he wrote, the project was not accepted until he added pilasters on the façade. With only forty per cent of the building completed, it was turned into a hospital. Konrad Püschel, another employee of the Giprovtuz, also managed to receive a commission in Moscow: Motor Teaching Block of Moscow Aviation Institute.

Photo: Anna Pronina, VDHN, 2018.

As the 1930s progressed, foreign architects were increasingly excluded from city planning processes, and were forced to take other sorts of design work. For example: in 1936 Tibor Weiner returned to Moscow from the city of Orsk in the far south of the Urals, and took a job with the design department of the Moscow underground stations before departing in 1937. One of his assignments was the Aeroport station, where he was worked in a collective of architects.

Max Kraevsky received Soviet citizenship and remained in the Soviet Union (as a Jew, neither he nor Tolziner could return to Germany). In 1939–1940, together with his wife Faina Belostotskaya, he designed a pavilion of the International Aid (MOPR) at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV), which had started in 1935.

Photo: Aeroport, Anna Pronina, 2018.

Anna Pronina (Architectural historian):

Obviously, the view of a beautiful, thoroughly restored building beloved by everyone, for instance the Bauhaus in Dessau, is enjoyable. But more often, the story is different: covered by sidings, the building has mured windows, sheds and throughways attached to it, with grim guards stationed at the entrance. A lot of work needs to be done in order to get to the original layer, and this is the most interesting process. Moreover, oftentimes these strata tell a lot about the monument itself. It reminds me of the debate around Roman ruins: during restoration is it worth it to destroy ground floor benches constructed in the early Middle Ages? I believe the answer is no. Moscow itself comprises such a multitude of architectural layers.

Photo: Industrial Akademie, Anna Pronina, 2018.

I love this archaeology of architecture most of all. I adore it. It is like a field research one shouldn’t be afraid of, because the experiment is conducted only once and the same material would be impossible to gather another time. The researcher should act immediately. These were the problems I had to solve, albeit on a smaller scale, throughout the workshop, with the help of photography.

The pleasant thing was learning to pay no attention to people and what they thought about me and my camera.

Nizhny Novgorod

Sormovsky Mechanical Technical School (allegedly, with contributions from Antonín Urban)

Antonín Urban was a Bauhaus student of Czech origin. He followed Hannes Meyer to the USSR and and some of his comrades was employed at the Giprovtuz design institute. In 1932 he worked there on a project for the technical school in Sormovo (Sormovsky disctrict of Nizhny Novgorod). As witnessed by Philipp Tolziner, Urban was arrested as a spy and murdered in 1938. In the 1970s Tolziner conducted research on his colleagues’ work. Through an acquaintance in Nizhny Novgorod he received a photograph of the Sormovo Mechanical Technical School, which underwent reconstruction (seemingly, a neoclassical treatment of the façade) in the 1940s. He noted, however, that authorship of the original building had yet to be confirmed.

Photo: Ira Maslova, 2018.

Ira Maslova (Architect, architectural historian):

In the Sormovsky district architecture is not believed to be part of everyday life, because life means people and their work. Architecture is absent from this view. It exists perhaps only as an accessorial membrane enveloping the working people. Several research meetings with the staff of Sormovo’s museums and libraries have revealed one thing: “We only have data in relation to production, not architecture.” This situation seems typical to me, with the minor exception being industrial architecture from the turn of the last century, which is appreciated and perceived as historically important, even though only one person has conducted research on this topic thus far. That person wrote a book providing a formal evaluation of building in the Russian brick style and art nouveau as “warmhearted” and “beautiful.” Soviet avant-garde architecture, “Culture One” as Vladimir Paperny called it, is excluded from perception; the architecture of the “Culture Two” era is recognized as valuable, as, god forgive me, “nice petty-bourgeois houses.” Is this all typical? Anyhow, can we judge this perception?

Photo: Ira Maslova, 2018.


Kuznetsky Metallurgical Technical School (Antonín Urban)

The scenario is similar to the situation in Nizhny Novgorod. During his 1970s research, Philipp Tolziner reported that a building for a technical school in Novokuzntesk had been designed in 1932 by Antonín Urban, who could not confirm his authorship as he became a victim of the Great Terror. Photographs from the 1970s in the Tolziner archive shows Kuznetsky Metallurgical Technical School.

Photo: Arseny Toskin, 2018.

Arseny Toskin (Architect):

The building of the technical school is located on the border with the industrial zone. It doesn’t stand out from the rest of the housing, and only knowing the project’s history allows its paradigmatic qualities to be seen—the arrangement of the windows, the stained-glass elements. People who use this building today do not appreciate it much, but they perceive a threat in taking photographs, that’s why the interiors have remained undocumented.

Photo: Arseny Toskin, 2018.

It was the first time that I had seen this building but I haven’t developed any special attitude to it, it still seems alien and somewhat random in this city. I completed the series with photographs of similar looking random buildings I encountered during the documentation process: each of them is a separate story, even though they have no connection to each other.

Photo: Arseny Toskin, 2018.


Master plan of the Vtoraia Rechka district (with contributions from Philipp Tolziner)

In the 1960s Philipp Tolziner was employed at the Central Scientific-Research Institute for Experimental and Typical Design of Housing (TsNIIP Zhilisha), which also produced city and district plans. While in this position he collaborated on the design of the Vtoraia Rechka district in Vladivostok, where, according to his writings, he participated in positioning of standard housing in the relief and design of social and trade center of mikroraion 2.

Photo: Evgeny Pankratyev, 2018.

Evgeny Pankratyev (Artist, journalist):

In this shot we see Vladivostok, the Vtoraia Rechka (The Second River) district, Stoletiia Avenue, a district built on the slope of a hill along the main entrance road to the city. At first glance, the housing system is reminiscent of the majority of other Vladivostok buildings—standard housing of the Khrushchev and Brezhnev era, whose unusual arrangement is explained largely by the contours of the landscape. However, there are a number of crucial differences: the houses form an ensemble with, in most cases, open views and substantial courtyards. The definitive architectural element is the canopy, curved into almost equal flat surfaces above the entrances to high-rise buildings. This “Tolziner’s district” comprises three main building types: separate nine-story apartment blocks erected along the edge of the slope (Prospekt Stoletiia, 109, 113, 117, 129, 131, 139); a continuous chain of one-story shops and other amenities at the base of the apartment houses standing between the bottom and the middle of the slope, with walkways into the courtyard; and deep within the district, interconnected five-story panel apartment houses separated by arched aisles (Prospekt Stoletiia 121, 123, 125, 133, 135, 137).

Photo: Evgeny Pankratyev, 2018.

●Latest Articles
The Spread of the Bauhaus in China

As early as the end of the 19th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, which is to say before the founding of the Bauhaus and after China’s forced opening through war to the outside world, China had already been witness to various experiments in modernization. Such experiments contributed to the laying down of a foundational mindset necessary for the acceptance of the Bauhaus in China’s traditional culture. → more

Richard Paulick and the Remaking of a Greater Shanghai 1933–1949

The article focusses on Richard Paulick’s sixteen-year exile in Shanghai. It is an examination of the interaction between a Bauhaus socialist and a Far East port city in its rush to modernize at the midpoint of the twentieth century. → more

Modern Vernacular — Walter Gropius and Chinese Architecture

This essay explores the connection between Walter Gropius and I. M. Pei, as well as the influence of the one on the other. After completing his studies, I. M. Pei worked with Gropius on plans for a university in Shanghai, which he subsequently realized in Taiwan, than in association with Chang Chao-Kang and Chen Chi-Kuan. → more

Bauhausmoderne und Chinesische Tradition — Franz Ehrlichs Entwurf für ein Haus des Handels in Peking (1954–1956)

In den frühen 1950er-Jahren bestanden gute diplomatische, politische und ökonomische Beziehungen zwischen der Volksrepublik China und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. Beide, sich als sozialistisch verstehende Staaten, waren 1949 gegründet worden. In diesem Aufsatz geht es um die besondere Beziehung zur chinesischen Architektur, Kunst und Gestaltung, die Franz Ehrlich entwickelte. → more

Bauhaus and the Origin of Design Education in India

This article is an example of “writing by being,” because the author had the privilege of being part of the pilot “batch” of Indian design teachers. These students, many from an engineering background, were to be India’s future design educators, and their first exposure to design education took place at the newly-founded National Institute of Design, India’s first design institute, established in 1961 and inspired to a large measure by Bauhaus ideology. → more

Moving Away from Bauhaus and Ulm — The Development of an Environmental Focus in the Foundation Programme at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad

The National Institute of Design (NID) came into existence at the intersection of postcolonial aspirations to design a new nation and the new citizen and Cold War cultural diplomacy. It was located in Ahmedabad, a medieval western Indian city on the banks of the river Sabarmati, famous for its textile mills and as the place where Gandhi began his anti-British campaigns. Initially it was housed, perhaps quite appropriately, in a museum building designed by Le Corbusier where discussions began on the appropriate educational philosophy and pedagogy: Who would produce new lotas for the new nation? Who would teach them and how? → more

Contemporary Reflections on NID History — Teaching through the Design Archive

I often stage chance encounters for students with archival materials at the NID: a rare photograph of the building in construction, an odd handwritten scribble on a drawing by M.P. Ranjan, a stunning collection of sound recordings by David Tudor and John Cage. The amazement and wonder created by this staging becomes the starting point for the pedagogical value of archives. → more

On Behalf of Progressive Design — Two Modern Campuses in Transcultural Dialogue

“The Indian state has only existed for 13 years. And world history would be unthinkable without its unorthodox influence. India has delivered more new content in the last decade than any other country.” HfG Ulm founder Otl Aicher’s report on his trip to India in 1960 and the slides he took during his journey across the country are impressive observations of a country in upheaval. From today’s perspective, this material reads like an overture to the future collaboration between two design schools: the HfG Ulm and the NID in Ahmedabad.   → more

Design for Need — Der Milchkiosk von Sudhakar Nadkarni

Während der Designstudent Sudhakar Nadkarni 1965 an der HfG Ulm an seiner Diplomarbeit zur Gestaltung eines Milchkiosks für seine Heimatstadt Bombay arbeitete, reiste der deutsche Architekt und Designer Hans Gugelot an das 1961 gegründete NID in Ahmedabad. An beiden Schulen war man überzeugt, dass nur ein rational begründetes Design, das sich mit den grundlegenden Systemen der Gesellschaft, der Infrastruktur, der Gesundheits- und Nahrungsmittelversorgung befasst, die unmittelbaren Bedürfnisse der Menschen ernst nehmen kann. Der Milchkiosk-Entwurf ist ein herausragendes Dokument einer Gestaltungshaltung, die Design als ein Mittel zur Verbesserung des Alltags begreift. → more

●Photo Essay
Abraham & Thakore — NID Fashion

Like most designer start-ups, A&T started as a very small design studio. We began by designing and manufacturing modest batches of textile and fashion items, manufactured mostly on handlooms and tiny printing and embroidery sheds in India’s still pervasive small-scale industrial sector. And indeed, 25 years on, our supply chain is still reliant on and supportive of many of these small enterprises. → more

Habib Rahman — A Bauhaus Legacy in India

Habib Rahman, born 1915 in Calcutta, studied architecture at MIT under Lawrence Anderson, William Wurster and Walter Gropius, who taught next door at Harvard University. Gropius got Rahman his first job after graduation in his firm where Rahman worked until he returned to India in 1946. Ram Rahman’s account of his father’s legacy and his contribution to modernist Indian architecture. → more

Architects’ Congress

The passenger ship Patris II transported the participants of the 4th International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) from Marseilles to Athens and back. Bauhaus teacher Moholy-Nagy, travelling as a “friend of the new building movement” produced this half-hour soundless film as a travel journal. → more

Der CIAM-Protest — Von Moskau zur Patris II (1932)

Entgegen allen internationalen Erwartungen – schließlich waren Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier, Erich Mendelsohn und andere eingeladen – befand sich am 29. Februar 1932 kein moderner Architekt unter den Hauptpreisträgern der ersten Wettbewerbsrunde für den Palast der Sowjets in Moskau. → more

A Migratory Life—from Dessau to Moscow to Mexico — Hannes Meyer and Lena Bergner and the Arts

In this article Marion von Osten focusses on the curatorial research involved in two of the project’s four chapters: Moving Away and Learning From. She rethinks the importance of the migratory life of the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer and Bauhaus weaver Lena Bergner, starting with Meyer’s two-year directorship of the Bauhaus Dessau, the couple’s time working in the USSR (1931–1936), and, finally, their decade-long period as exiles in Mexico, which lasted from 1939 to 1949, the year they returned to Switzerland. → more

Die Sozialisierung des Wissens und das Streben nach Deutungsmacht — Lena Bergners Transfer der Isotype nach Mexiko

Lena Bergner wird normalerweise als am Bauhaus ausgebildete Textilgestalterin charakterisiert. In ihrem zehnjährigen Exil in Mexiko widmete sie sich allerdings der grafischen Gestaltung, fast ausschließlich für antifaschistische Projekte. Eine Ausnahme sind ihre weitestgehend unbekannten Leistungen im Bereich der visuellen Kommunikation für das mexikanische Schulbaukomitee. Hier verwendete sie Otto Neuraths „Wiener Methode der Bildstatistik“ (Isotype). Dieser Text erörtert den Transfer der Isotype von Europa nach Mexiko am Beispiel von Bergner und ihren möglichen Berührungspunkten mit Neuraths bildpädagogischen Methode und untersucht, wie sich die Isotype von propagandistischen visuellen Kommunikationsformen abgrenzt. → more

Praised, Sentenced, Forgotten, Rediscovered — 62 Members of the Bauhaus in the Land of the Soviets

In this interview with Astrid Volpert, she reviews her decades of research on Bauhäusler who emigrated to the SU and makes it clear that there were far more than seven of them heading east. Persons traveling from the Bauhaus to Russia were from eleven countries. They belonged to various denominations—there were Protestants and Catholics, Jews and atheists. Of the 15 women and 47 men, only 21 of them were members of communist parties. → more

The Moscow Bauhaus Exhibition Catalogue (1931)

When Hannes Meyer had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1930, one of the first things he did was organizing an exhibition about “his” Bauhaus. As early as in February 1931 Meyer had the exhibition Bauhaus Dessau. Period of Hannes Meyer’s directorship. 1928-1930 already ready to receive the Moscow public. It was shown at the renown State Museum of New Western Art. This is the first English translation of the exhibition catalogue. → more

After the Ball — Hannes Meyer Presenting the Bauhaus in Moscow

Hannes Meyer arrived in the USSR just a couple of months after being dismissed from his position as Bauhaus director in October 1930. These months were filled with attempts by Meyer and his supporters to protest this decision through all possible means: media campaigns, open letters, student demonstration and court trials. After arriving in Moscow, Meyer carried on the fight against his unfair dismissal. → more

From Recognition to Rejection — Hannes Meyer and the Reception of the Bauhaus in the Soviet Union

The history of the Stalinist critique of the Bauhaus and Hannes Meyer has two chapters. The first chapter spans the time from 1929 to the Architects’ Congress in the Soviet Union in 1937; the second consists in the condemnation of the Bauhaus in the GDR that took place on the trip by East German architects to Moscow in spring of 1950. This text tells the story of the first chapter. → more

Meyer’s Russia, or the Land that Never Was

It is quite hard to know where to start with Hannes Meyer in Moscow. It’s hard because, while there is plenty of documentation on him and his team in the Bauhaus Brigade—as well as other Western designers and architects (of these, Ernst May is at least as significant as Meyer, as is the Dutch designer Mart Stam, and each went on to produce more substantial work than Meyer after their respective Russian episodes)—the legacy of his work there presents certain difficulties in evaluating. → more

Moving Away to the Other End of the World — Reflections on the Letters Between Tibor Weiner and Hannes Meyer from the DAM Archive

This article examines the correspondence between a teacher (Hannes Meyer) and his former student (Tibor Weiner), who met at the Bauhaus in Dessau, going on to live for a period in the Soviet Union. Each migrated to Latin America shortly before the outbreak of World War Two, and returned to Europe in the late 1940s. The surviving letters between Meyer and Weiner, preserved in the DAM Archive in Frankfurt am Main, are not only a testimony of comradeship but also a window into some key moments in the first half of the twentieth century. → more

●Artist Work
To Philipp Tolziner

For the exhibition bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect at Garage Contemporary Museum of Art, the contemporary artist Alice Creischer has been invited to respond to the personal archive of Bauhaus architect Philipp Tolziner. She produced reading of material relating to the architect’s socialist backgrounds and his work in the Soviet Union.  → more

●Artist Work
Sketch One: Lotte and Hermina — Script-Reading and Screening by Wendelien van Oldenborgh

The script that the artist Wendelin van Oldenborgh created for bauhaus imaginista: Moving Away. The Internationalist Architect as a public moment is an insight into the development of her larger film project which will premiere as a contribution to the bauhaus imaginista exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, March 2019. It features archive material around the personas Lotte Beese and Hannes Meyer, Hermine Huiswoud and Langston Hughes. → more

Hamhŭng’s Two Orphans (To Konrad Püschel) — East German Internationalism in North-Korea Emerging through a Chronopolitical Lens

Doreen Mende’s work Hamhung’s Two Orphans, which borrows its title from a chapter of the cine-essay Coréennes (1959) by Chris Marker, proposes to trace the transformation of the Bauhaus’s relevance from its prewar internationalist modernity into elements of the GDR’s socialist internationalism when architecture operated as a state-crafting instrument during the global Cold War. → more

“All artists interlock!” — How Bauhäuslers created the “New Germany” and promoted the national economy

The Third Reich was in ruins, the surrender not yet signed. An architect painstakingly working his way through the debris to the Schöneberg town hall found a sign on the door of the building authority with his name. Appointed to office by the German Communist Party (KPD), city counselor Hans Scharoun immediately looked around for his people: “I’ve looked everywhere for you, where are you? Here we go!” → more

The “School in the Woods” as a Socio-pedagogical Ideal — Functional Analyses and Photographs by Peterhans

The building theory classes at the Bauhaus focused on imparting a functional understanding of architecture. Building had become a science. As a result, the ADGB Trade Union School was designed logically from the inside out. Walter Peterhans’ photographs of the school images illustrate both the architect’s intentions for the building and the environmental studies conducted by Bauhaus students. → more

●Artist Work
Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa — A Film about the Ife Campus

Zvi Efrat, 2019, film stills from the exhibition video projection, 25 min, color, sound, English.
Courtesy of the artist. → more

The Legacy of Arieh Sharon’s Postcolonial Modernist Architecture at the Obafemi Awolowo University Campus in Ile-Ife Nigeria

The significance of Arieh Sharon’s postcolonial modernist architecture at Obafemi Awolowo University Campus at Ile-Ife is multi-dimensional. Built between 1960 and 1978, at first glance the campus core consists of an ensemble of modernist buildings. In this article Bayo Amole examines some of the physical and conceptual characteristics of the campus master plan and core area design in order to illustrate their significance as examples of postcolonial modernist architecture—identifying the most important aspects of their legacy, which has continued to guide the design of the campus as it has developed over the course of more than a half century. → more

Bauhaus Modernism and the Nigerian Connection — The Socio-Political Context of Arieh Sharon and the University Of Ife Design

It should be considered “against the run of play” for a Bauhaus-trained Israeli architect such as Arieh Sharon to have been named designer of the post-independence University of Ife. This paper examines how developments in the socio-political context of Nigeria and international politics—including history and policies in the education sector—“constructed” Sharon’s involvement in the University of Ife design and the spread of Bauhaus modernism to tropical architecture. → more

Nigerian Campus Design — A Juxtaposition of Traditional and Contemporary Architecture

The early to mid-twentieth century saw the International Style and modernism rapidly influence major Nigerian cities and towns, first as a result of colonialism and then independence. Discussing the architecture of two first-generation Nigerian Universities, the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, this article builds upon the established discourse concerning how architects assimilated the International Style into the tropical climate and sociocultural context of Nigeria. → more

Colonial Architecture in Ile-Ife

The architectural heritage credited to the colonial intervention of the British in Nigeria is a blend of features imported by Europeans accustomed to a temperate climate, mixed with adaptations derived from the principles of modern architecture and concessions to the region’s tropical climate. As such, colonial buildings of this era can be regarded as a hybrid architectural style. → more

The New Culture School for Arts and Design — Launched in 1995

The New Culture School for Arts and Design in Ibadan, Nigeria has involved the development and construction of a space for creative people working in many different media in order to advance their professional proficiency in the fine arts, theater, music, film, photography, design, writing and more. → more

Nation Building through Campus Architecture — Israeli Architects Arieh Sharon and Eldar Sharon’s Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Campus in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, 1962–1976

The campus of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Nigeria, the first phase of which was built between 1962 and 1972, is a fascinating example of modernist architecture in Africa. As a case study of Africa’s assimilation of the modern style, its design is intriguing also due to the fact that it was built by Israeli architect Arieh Sharon (1900–1984), aided by his son, Eldar Sharon (1933–1994). → more

Beyond Cement and Iron — Contextualizing Israeli Architecture in Africa

My focus on construction and planning is not incidental. These fields played a crucial role in space-shaping processes during the first decades of the Israeli state, as well as in the construction of the territorial identity of its new citizens. Simultaneously, during the 1960s, the modernist construction projects undertaken in African countries post-independence were also evidence of a desire amongst newly independent African nations for postcolonial national unity. → more

Tropical Architecture / Building Skin

Like the modernist architecture that preceded it, tropical architecture was co-defined with modern bodies and the bodies of the tropics: initially those of colonizers but soon colonized bodies as well. The technologies of tropical architecture, based on a modernist rationalism adapted to tropical climatic conditions, were, in turn, offered as a developmental asset to colonized subjects, especially young people. → more

A Hot Topic — Tropical Architecture and Its Aftermath

Both the tropical architecture discourse in general and British notions of modernism in particular were embedded in larger discussions on climatic and culturally sensitive approaches to building developed within the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne—CIAM) from the 1950s onward—notions rooted in the hygienic and medical discourses of colonial occupation. → more

The Extension Buildings of the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau — Documents of the Formalism Debate in the GDR

The former ADGB Trade Union School is regarded today as an icon of modern architecture. Designed at the Bauhaus under the direction of Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer together with the students of architecture, the building ensemble still stands as a paragon of collective work, reform pedagogical ideas and analytic architecture. Less attention has been paid to the extensions to the school, planned 1949–51 by Georg Waterstradt. These buildings stand as a valuable testimony to the vigor of GDR architecture. The “formalism debate” led to a rejection of Bauhaus architecture, and thus, the set of political-architectural principles exemplified by the Trade Union School. → more

Communistic Functionalist — The Anglophone Reception of Hannes Meyer

Philip Johnson described Hannes Meyer as a “communistic functionalist” whose most notable achievement was to have preceded Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as director of the Bauhaus. The position he assigned to Meyer was reinforced in the Bauhaus Exhibition of 1938 at MoMA. The particular view of the Bauhaus presented at MoMA in 1938 corresponds to the place of Meyer in the historiography of modern architecture in the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s. The view that Meyer’s work allegedly lacked aesthetic interest, rendering it irrelevant to an Anglophone audience. → more

Selman Selmanagić at the Crossroads of Different Cultures — From Childhood Years in Bosnia to Bauhaus Education and Travels

Selman Selmanagić’s childhood years in Bosnia, on the eve of the First World War, as well as his education in Sarajevo, Ljubljana and at Bauhaus Dessau between the two world wars, together with his work in Palestine and Berlin, shaped his worldview and experience with different cultures and traditions. Throughout his career, he perpetually strove to find contemporary answers for the challenges of the time he was living in. → more

The “Hungarian Bauhaus” — Sándor Bortnyik’s Bauhaus-Inspired Budapest School Műhely 1928–1938

One of the many Hungarians associated with the Bauhaus, painter and graphic designer Sándor Bortnyik (1893-1976) opened his art and design school, Műhely, in Budapest in 1928 to bring the Bauhaus’s sprit and some of its teaching methods into Hungary. Even if Bortnyik’s school did not have the scope of the Bauhaus, it was an efficient experiment in an independent form of institutionalized education in the field of modern graphic design and typography. → more

Biology and Educational Models in the Pacific Southern Cone

The Chilean encounter with second-order cybernetics in the early 1970s was an essential part of the modernization project the state had been promoting since the 1920s, a project which also encompasses the 1945 reform of the architecture school. But if one reviews the history of this project with greater care, one can identify the reform of the new art school of 1928, which was the product of a social movement that began after the First World War, and that was able to implement in the main school of art of the country, a “first year of trial” similar to the methodology of the Bauhaus preliminary course, influenced by the trends of the “Active” or “New” school of the time. → more

For the Faculty of Architecture at METU — Bauhaus was a Promise

“ARCH 101 Basic Design” is the title of the introductory course offered to the first-year students in the METU Faculty of Architecture (Middle East Technical University, Ankara). Since the establishment of the school, this course has been conducted with a very strong Bauhaus impact. → more

From Social Democratic Experiment to Postwar Avant-Gardism — Asger Jorn and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus

The project bauhaus imaginista would be negligent if it did not address the artist group referenced by its title, the Mouvement Internationale pour un Bauhaus Imaginiste (International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, or IMIB), founded in 1953 by Danish artist Asger Jorn together with a handful of French and Italian colleagues. Many of the theoretical and artistic positions advocated by the IMIB were developed dialectically in response both to the historical Bauhaus and the reconstitution of a Bauhaus-inspired pedagogical program at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) in Ulm. → more

Letter from Asger Jorn to Max Bill — February 12, 1954

Asger Jorn read of Max Bill’s plans for the new Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm (HfG), a school modeled after the Bauhaus, in the British Architects’ Yearbook 1953, where Bill had placed a promotional article to attract prospective students and teachers. Excited by the possibility of participating in a new democratic pedagogical experiment and in pursuing his interest in fusing art and architecture, he wrote to Bill, inquiring about the role of art at Ulm and expressing his desire to secure a teaching position.

This is a translation of one of the letters Jorn send to Bill. → more

+ Add this text to your collection!