For the Faculty of Architecture at METU

Bauhaus was a Promise

Figure 1: METU Campus, Faculty of Architecture and the Alley, Salt Research.
Altug-Behruz Cinici Archive.

“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.

“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). A basic knowledge of color, form, and materials is at the core of this preliminary course that has been taught continuously since the fall of 1956. Although instructors have changed over time, student outcomes of the course remained unaffected, and regardless of the complexities or variety in studio assignments, student work has unquestionably demonstrated a high level of quality and consistency.

Since the school’s establishment, the structure of the basic/preliminary design course has reflected a strong Bauhaus influence. However, except for a draft written in the fall of 1970, this influence has never been made explicit.1 Although at a later point the tools of rational thinking and problem-solving were sought in Gestalt psychology and system theory, the teaching procedure employed were always congruent with Bauhaus introductory education principles. Rather than directly implementing these principles, the course has integrated a critique of the Bauhaus training method. This critical stand is also rooted in the very nature of modernism’s ideals.2

The METU Faculty of Architecture was the first department established at the brand-new school, which was founded in 1956 in the capital of the Turkish Republic. The goal was to contribute to the development of Turkey and the surrounding countries in the Middle East, Balkans, and Caucasus region, by creating a skilled workforce in the natural and social sciences, becoming a model for “the new modern society.”3 By definition, it had to be new and therefore could not be the imitation of an existing École. Nor could the education be based on any historical formation, even if it did incorporate some pedagogical methods first developed at the Bauhaus (Figure 1).

Although no references were listed in the written documents, the conceptualization of Basic Design was larger than design as the process of creating, executing, or constructing according to plan: It included research into mathematics (geometry and set theory), biology (growth and form), and philosophy (phenomenology and structuralism). Referring to the course, Türel Saranlı said: “There was nothing basic about design.” It was the foundations of design and the term “basic” was simply “an American mistranslation.”4 The “Vorkurs” lent itself to the architecture program of the introductory course at METU un-bound by time and context. It focused on the basics/fundamentals of design, materials, tools, skills and problem-solving strategies, and, in Margret Kentjens-Craig’s words, “it was built upon a universal language of geometric abstraction that gave students the vocabulary and methods to succeed in whatever workshop or design assignment they were involved. The fundamentals do not get old. And the search for the truth doesn't either.”5

Practical and theoretical studies were carried on simultaneously in order to release students’ creative powers, to help them grasp the physical nature of materials and the basic laws of design. Concentration on any particular stylistic movement was from the beginning deliberately avoided. Observation and representation—with the intention of revealing the desired relationship between form and content—defined the limits of the preliminary course. As a technical university, the acquisition of technical knowledge (Werkmeister) was an obligatory part of METU’s pedagogic objectives, while stylistic discussions were consciously avoided, aesthetics (Formmeister) having been conceived as to the detriment of student development and collated to a historically bounded and Bauhaus-based modernist taste.

When Frederick Alois (Fritz) Janeba (1905-1983) was appointed as a visiting scholar by United Nations-Paris Headquarters, arriving in Ankara in August 1962 to work as a Professor of Art and Architecture, the school had offered a four-year Bachelor of Architecture degree for six years. The language of instruction was English; the dean was a Yale graduate;6 all the senior and junior members of the teaching staff had studied and worked abroad.7 Although the first graduation ceremony was held in 1960, the students were traveling to Europe and the United States on state and international scholarships and were also working in architectural offices in Northern Europe during the school breaks.8 Before Janeba’s arrival, the general curriculum of the school had already been formalized completely. Both architecture and city planning majors shared a common first year education, including the Basic Design course. This was first conducted by Thomas B.A. Godfrey and Marvin Sevely. These two visiting scholars, later joined by William Cox, were also UN recruits, invited from the University of Pennsylvania to become the founding administrator (Godfrey) and first instructors of the school.

The Bauhaus impact in the United States has been studied extensively, particularly in the last three decades. However, the school’s influence outside well-known incubators for Bauhaus ideas, such as Harvard, MIT and IIT still requires further exploration. If the Bauhaus heritage found “a fertile ground in America,” as stated by Kentjens-Craig,9 its seeds spread to Anatolia by way of this group of relatively unknown, second-hand Bauhaus-trained American architects. To say the least, both Godfrey and Sevely, and the other visiting lecturers sent during the early years of the school by the UN, were architects trained in the tenets of modernism. It would not be wrong to say that with the aid of these American and North European visiting architects/instructors, the Bauhaus took quite a detour to reach to the METU Faculty of Architecture. (Although the Bauhaus was not unknown in Turkey prior to the founding of METU: Bauhaus affiliate Bruno Taut, together with several German modernist colleagues, had fled to Turkey in 1936. Taut won a number of commissions from the Turkish Ministry of Education for educational buildings in Ankara and Trabzon before his death in 1938.)

In the first catalogue of the school, Godfrey described the faculty’s essential goal as that of introducing students to “basic methods and a creative approach to the problems of the designer.”10 The course was conducted to develop an awareness of the human, technical and aesthetic components of architecture. Godfrey and his colleagues believed that “creativity stems not from inspiration nor taste alone, nor from classical sources, but rather from the capacity of the designer to mould the many technical and human components of the environment into a meaningful and imaginative relationship.”11 The scale of the design problems defined ranged from the design of a knife to the perception of a regional plan.12 Taking over the course following his arrival, Janeba supported the main principles of the course. Soon, however, he became critical, particularly of the first-year education. He stated that the students were unable to deal with scientific methods and lacked “Basic Scientific Skills.”13 For him, architecture and design were separate, “ordered crafts.”14 Architects and all the designers were placed between “two poles”: “On one side the artistic creation … feeling … and at the other side end the authority of mind … reason … forming a counter balance.”15 The Basic Design course had to be conducted in such a way that it assisted students in finding “the spiritual and material basis of rhythmic creation according to certain intrinsic and definitive laws, to form and awaken the mind and educate the senses.”16 The principle of complementing academic studies with working experiences had to be introduced and practical instruction had to be accompanied by an elementary workshop experience. Workshops were at the center of both the curriculum and the architectural program of the METU Faculty of Architecture.

The Assignments

The general structure of the introductory course and the assignments given by first-year instructors during the early years of the school are of great significance in tracing the Bauhaus influence. During his stay in METU, Janeba did not unveil the origins of his education “method,” not even in the report that he submitted to UN headquarters before leaving Ankara. Although he started his brief statement with a discussion of the “Idea of the Kindergarten Design,” he referred neither to the nineteenth century kindergarten education theories nor to its Modern formulation in the Bauhaus.17

“The method is to keep, in the work of the grown-up, the sincerity of emotion, the truth of observation, the fantasy, and the creativeness of the child.”18

Janeba’s Basic Design course was divided into four stages: the introductory or exploratory stage; the discerning approach; striving for an intellectual and technical background; and, finally, the creation of an architectural vision. The first stage was at the core of the basic design education and was composed of two main exercises: doodling for “relaxation” (as Janeba put it), which would provide the opportunity for experimenting (presented as “the Artist’s prerogative”), and a more conscious drawing effort in which students were ordered to create a line drawing composed of perpendicular and horizontal lines changing direction at right angles. The third assignment of the first stage, given to the Basic Design students in the fall of 1962 was entitled “Introduction to Color.”19 The students were given three basic geometric shapes—circle, square and triangle—and asked to draw on a sheet of standard size white paper a circle with a 15cm diameter, a square measuring 15cm on each side and an equilateral triangle, also measuring 15 cm per side (Figure 2a-2b).

Figure 2a: METU Arch 101 Basic Design Assignment sheet, titled “Introduction of Colour, The Basic of Elementary Colours,” Fall 1962.
METU Faculty of Architecture Archive.
Figure 2b: Questionnaire given to all Bauhaus members, from the catalog Bauhaus - 1919-1928, ed. by H. Bayer, I. Gropius, W. Gropius, p. 70.

They would paint each shape with one of what Janeba termed the basic elementary colors: red, blue, and yellow. The challenge was to consider “the suitable basic colour expressing and fitting the appropriate basic shape” (Figure 2) From this initial step, students learned to work with different shapes and materials and eventually discover their genuine possibilities, in the process acquiring knowledge of structure, texture and surface quality.

“Squares and cubes of different sizes and volumes formed the composition of elements. A constant, very simple geometric arrangements. Order and fantasy prevailed throughout the whole scheme … We advance into the realm of Romanticism. A world of the abstract is to be conquered and comprehended and express in terms of reality. Imagination coupled with discipline are the decisive influential factors at this stage.”20

Figure 3: Basic Design Jury 1964–1965. Front row: Olcay Okçetin, Prof. Fritz Janeba, Serim Denel, student: Necdet Teymur, the former dean. Far left: Fahrettin Tolun was a student of Maximillian Debus, lived in Weißenhofsiedlung in 1950s.

Following these exercises, students were asked to make an analytical study of two paintings. Again, neither the choice of paintings nor the study of their formal aspects was a coincidence. A studio assignment Janeba gave in 1964 with the assistance of three instructors—Olcay Okçetin, Serim Gürsoy Denel and Fahrettin Tolun—is exemplary in this regard (Figure 3).

The title of the assignment was “Analysing Compositions”21 (Figure 4a). Two old master paintings were given as case studies to the students, presented as representative of “two distinct areas of artistic expressions in the long history of the visual arts.” The students were given two major tasks: they were required to “express the line composition,” the principles of movement in a line pattern, and were also instructed to show the distribution of light and dark areas and their relationship. The instructors made a clear note that the subject matter of the paintings was “irrelevant”; yet they had two different “emotional contents.” Janeba selected a fifteenth century biblical wood panel painting of Fra Filippo Lippi and a watercolor from 1914 by the German artist August Macke (Figure 4b).

Figure 4a: METU Arch 101 Basic Design Assignment sheet, titled “Analysing Compositions,” Fall 1964.
METU Faculty of Architecture Archive.
Figure 4b: Two paintings: Fra Filippo Lippi’s Annunciation, 1443 and August Macke’s In the Bazaar, 1914.

Using this method of analyzing the underlying geometrical relations, defining its essential expressive components with a geometric diagram of ruled lines, or highlighting the distribution of light and dark areas through shading was not Janeba’s invention. He was aware that Johannes Itten had previously used paintings by the old masters for such purposes as an exercise assigned to first-year students at the Bauhaus. That itten’s choice was the Adoration of the Magi by Master Francke (1424) is open to historical interpretation.22 Assigning the same exercise to the first year students at METUFA almost forty years later, however, cannot be a random choice (Figure 5).

Janeba was one of the many architects who travelled extensively throughout Europe before leaving for Australia during the Nazi period.23 While still a student at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts (Akademie der bildenden Künste) during the early 1930s, one of his close friends was Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack, a student and later an instructor at the Weimar Bauhaus as well as other German art academies who subsequently fled to Great Britain before being forcibly relocated to Australia as an enemy alien in 1940. Catherine Townsend states that Janeba’s belief in the significance of childhood experiences for creativity was supported by Hirschfeld-Mack’s educational approach, which claimed that “for adults to be truly creative they needed to re-establish contact with ‘the absorbed and focused attention’ that children bring to the activities of drawing and making.”24 Janeba appropriated these theories about creativity, linking them to Gestalt psychology—using color and music together to help develop the perceptual skills of the student (Figure 6). Hirschfeld-Mack conducted experiments with color plates and musical scores during his Bauhaus years and developed an apparatus to project light compositions with the aid of mechanical templates. Music was used to control the form and the rhythm of these light paintings. Thus, Janeba’s last exercise in the first stage was related to color and sound.

For this exercise, tape-recordings of two distinct languages, Akan from Ghana and German, were played to students, who were asked to “paint” their language/sound impressions using different colors. Like prior exercises using the paintings of old masters, interpreted in terms of lines and contrasting areas of black and white, language was deprived of meaning and presented merely as an abstract sound. Janeba also believed music would help students to give form and rhythm to these abstract organizations. They were encouraged “to invent, to explore, to experiment with forms, with materials, with textures, colours”25 (Figure 7).

For Janeba, design was a “form finding exercise” with a set of variations -soft form, hard form, form in nature, abstract and functional form and the basic form.26 In design exercises, a variety of materials were introduced. Assignments presented experimental manufacturing techniques, including timber construction and metal frames, weaving, clay modelling and coiled clay, and paper engineering. The final abstract formal assignment in the course was indicated by the by-products of the analysis of different patterns, textures and colors. Referring to Aristotle’s scholastic theory, which defined form and matter as two entirely different and independent systems of fundamental significance, Janeba characterized form and function as dynamic entities that evolve and change in time. For him, objects produced by man possessed “elementary forms” which evolved into “basic forms” through technical process of perfection and craftsmanship. Elementary forms had to serve a purpose and satisfy functional needs. However, with the “increasing power of … rational thinking,” they evolved into more symbolic representations of a fine craftsmanship, becoming basic forms.

“Functional beauty and unpretentious honesty, avoiding ostentation, are the unique quality of the form.”27

The goal of the last stage in the Basic Design course was to introduce students to significant notions of the “design vocabulary,” such as exactness and perfection. The tools which would help them in handling materials and the knowledge of structural principles—basically tension and compression—were introduced at this point. Janeba believed that although Turkey was not yet an industrialized nation, students had to be made aware of mass-production, the existence of machine-made objects and the concept of “exactness.” He clearly stated in his report that the drive to make “a spoon or skyscraper “as perfect and as functional as possible” become a necessity in a mechanized and highly competitive society.28 When students acquired the necessary knowledge of materials and manufacturing techniques, the aesthetic of a given functional form would appear. The design of a structure would provide students with the experience of composing and discovery, helping help them to make aesthetic judgements.29

Figure 5: Diagrammatic analysis of the Anbetung nach Meister Franke [Adoration of the Magi by Master Franke] by Johannes Itten, Doppelblatt aus „Analysen Alter Meister“, from: Bruno Adler (ed.): Utopia. Dokumente der Wirklichkeit, I/II, Weimar 1921, Klassik Stiftung Weimar/Grafische Sammlung, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2019.

Figure 6: Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack’s Lithograph in catalog Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar 1919–1923, p. 61.

Figure 7: Illustrations for color and sound, from the “METU Final Report to UNESCO and UN Special Fund”, prepared by Fritz Janeba.

Figure 8a: METU Arch 101 Basis Design Assignment sheet, on texture and surface treatment, Fall 1967, METU Faculty of Architecture Archive.

Figure 8b: Surface treatments of paper, Gerda Marx, Bauhaus, 1927, from L. Moholy-Nagy: The New Vision and Abstract of an Artist, New York 1947, p. 27.

For Janeba, design was best perceived as an “orderly arrangement of elements”.30 Light and shade, color, materials, later rhythm, sound, proportion and, finally, volumes or abstract space and their interrelationship were at the core of his Basic Design course. Patterns and textures were composed of colors. Familiarity with them came with knowledge, personal experience and experimentation. The influence of Bauhaus teaching methodologies, in particular Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack’s color-sound exercises, however, remained unmentioned.31 When Bilgi Denel and Türel Saranlı took over the first-year education after Janeba’s departure in 1966, the only evidence left suggesting his approach was influenced by the Bauhaus were his students’ assignments. There were no textbooks or detailed course descriptions. “No textbook was recommended … because no textbook existed, no scheme published in architectural periodicals helped to a short-cut. The individual was put upon its own creative resources and potentialities.”32 Education was based on experimentation: experiment and hands-on research were the essentials of the curriculum. Rather than imitating the old and learning what was already there, students and instructors worked together in this innovative space to create the “new.” Bilgi Denel, a civil engineer, continued his graduate studies at the Princeton University School of Architecture. Türel Saranlı, one of the first graduates of the METU Faculty of Architecture, completed his Master’s degree at Pratt Institute in 1964, where he took history courses from Sibyl Moholy-Nagy and later worked in the architecture and urban planning office of Steen Eiler Rasmussen in Copenhagen, regularly attending in-house lectures on modern architecture and the Bauhaus approach. Saranlı later characterized Rasmussen’s approach as a “romantic mixture of the Bauhaus and the Danish Handicraft.”33 With Denel and Saranlı, instruction in the theory of form was carried on in close contact with manual training. “Spontaneity and creativity” were the keywords they used to describe the objectives of their approach. Design was perceived as a “joyful activity,” with workshops and design studios giving “the impression of a playground.”34 By working with a variety of materials students discovered step by step their actual possibilities and understood their texture, surface qualities, and structure.

The title of the assignment Denel and Saranlı gave to students in the fall semester of 1967 was: “Texture: is a surface characteristic.” “Texture,” they wrote, “represents the structure of the accessary parts of any material.”35 The texture of surfaces possesses a psychological influence due to the fact it has an effective existence of its own. Students were asked to define a square area of 30 cm x 30 cm on a 67 cm x 50 cm standard size cartridge paper and construct a group of textures varying between smooth and rough (Figure 8a-8b).

The assignment which followed was related to the characteristics and the possibilities of material. In this case, the material from which students were asked to produce “form structures” was paper. The assignment sheet asserts that all architecture is made out of forms, but the form itself was the result of “the character and the structural capacity” of the material36 (Figure 9a-9b).

Figure 9a: METU Arch 101 Basic Design Assignment sheet, on paper forms-structures, Fall 1967.
METU Faculty of Architecture Archive.
Figure 9b: Left: Paper cuttings from the catalog Bauhaus - 1919-1928, ed. by H. Bayer, I. Gropius, W. Gropius, p. 118.

All the exercises, including the studies in two dimensional compositions, aimed to develop in students an interest and understanding of basic organizational principles in architecture, which would give them the “ability to think and express the ideas in plastic and graphic form” (Figure 10a-10b).

Figure 10a: METU Arch 101 Basic Design Assignment, from Bilgi Denel: Method for Basic Design, Ankara 1973.
Figure 10b: Studies on composition, from the catalog Bauhaus - 1919-1928, ed. by H. Bayer, I. Gropius, W. Gropius, p. 153.

While not creators on the order of Mondrian, Klee or Moholy-Nagy, Godfrey, Sevely, Cox, Janeba, Çetin, Denel and Saranlı were all strong personalities who created a comparable variety and defined multiple “positions,” to use Leah Dickerman’s words.37 Local instructors along with architects and designers from Northern Europe, Japan and the United States also came to teach at METU for short periods. They were well-trained, successful designers and contributed to the development of the curriculum with a shared modernist mission. All the work produced in the preliminary course was made under the guidance of these instructors. Moreover, the real success of the school was the selection of ambitious, talented students who came from modern, petit bourgeois families. The students who chose to study at the “new school” were thus representatives of Turkey’s second-generation, authentic modernists of the republic established in 1923. These extremely enthusiastic men and women were ready to break with the past and search for new forms of expression (Figure 11a-11b).

In the early 60s, although the dissemination of abstract art documentation was limited, students at METU Faculty of Architecture certainly knew what Modern Art and Architecture were.38

To Conclude

During a fall 2018 symposium in Berlin organized in advance of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the school’s legacy had been described as an idea, an école, a metaphor, a historical subject, the cradle of democracy, a utopia, an icon, an image machine, an experiment, a paradigm shift. For the METU Faculty of Architecture, the Bauhaus was absolutely a “promise,” and the subtle shade of difference between “basic” and “fundamental” managed to hide the traces of the Bauhaus influence.39 The definition of “basic” is that it constitutes an essential foundation or starting point, in other words, “basic” is “fundamental.” Moreover, “basic” also offers or constitutes the minimum required without elaboration or asking for “more.” Thus, there was nothing basic about the basic design; rather it expanded the borders of design to include other fields of research, particularly art.

Figure 11a, 11b: METU Faculty of Architecture Costume Ball, 1965, METU Faculty of Architecture Archive.


This work has been supported by the archival material of B.Günay and S.Denel and the assistance of S.Sarıca, S.İnan, and B.Derebaşı.

  • 1 Bilgi Denel: A Method for Basic Design, METU Faculty of Architecture Publication, Kalite Matbaası, Ankara 1979.
  • 2 Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman: Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, MoMA, New York 2009.
  • 3 Güven A. Sargın and Ayşen Savaş: “University is a Society: An Environmental History of the METU Campus,” JoA-Journal of Architecture, v.18, n.1, 2013, pp. 79-106 (re-printed in Journal of Architecture first anniversary anthology in 2016).
  • 4 Türel Saranlı interview by Ayşen Savaş and Seray Türkay, 16 November 2018, at METU. As stated by Türel Saranlı, this list of books included: D’Arcy W. Thompson: On Growth and Form: The Complete Revised Edition, Dover Publications, New York 1992, (first published in 1917 and revised in 1942).
  • 5 Op.cit. Kentgens-Craig, p.28.
  • 6 Between 1962 and 1968 the dean of the Faculty of Architecture was Abdullah Kuran (1927-2002). He was a graduate of Robert College and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Yale School of Architecture.
  • 7 From the “METU Final Report to UNESCO and UN Special Fund,” prepared by Fritz Janeba at the end of his assignment in Ankara, dated October 31, 1966.
  • 8 Sevgi Aktüre, Sevin Osmay & Ayşen Savaş (eds): Anılar. Bir Sözlü Tarih Çalışması. 1956’dan 2006’ya ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi-nin 50 Yılı, (Memories: An Oral History of the METU Faculty of Architecture 1956-2006), METU Press, Ankara 2007.
  • 9 Margret Kentgens-Craig: The Bauhaus and America: First Contacts 1919-1936, The MIT Press, Cambridge 1999 (originally published in German, in Frankfurt am Main, 1993).
  • 10 Thomas Godfrey: “The Faculty of Architecture,” Bulletin of Middle East Technical University, vol.1, no.1, 1960, p.20.
  • 11 Ibid.
  • 12 Prospectus 1960, METU Publications, p. 5. Janeba attended a course at a technical school in 1921, receiving an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner before entering the school for applied art in Vienna (Kunstgewerbe Schule), where he specialized in architecture. In the early 1930s he worked under the direction of Clemens Holzmeister, who also taught at Istanbul Technical University and designed numerous state buildings in Turkey, including the Turkish Parliament.
  • 13 Op.cit. Janeba 1966, p.3.
  • 14 Ibid. p.16.
  • 15 Ibid.
  • 16 Ibid. p.6.
  • 17 Aktan Acar: The Construction and Execution of the Beginning Design Education at the METU Department of Architecture Between 1956-2000, (unpublished master’s thesis), METU, Ankara September 2003.
  • 18 László Moholy-Nagy: The New Vision, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York 1938, and, The New Vision and abstract of an artist (The Documents of Modern Art, 3). G. Wittenborn, New York 1947.
  • 19 “Introduction to Colour,” Assignment given to the first-year design students at METU Faculty of Architecture, November 16, 1962. Faculty Archives.
  • 20 Op.cit. Janeba 1966, p.24.
  • 21 “Analysing Composition”: assignment given to first-year design students at METU Faculty of Architecture, November 1964, Faculty Archives.
  • 22 Bruno Adler: Utopia: Dokumente der Wirklichkeit, Utopia Verlag, Weimar 1921. Understanding the work’s compositional structure and abstracting it into mathematical formulas detaches a painting from its already displaced context. With all religious connotation, narration and symbolism removed, the painting is rendered “abstract” before the geometrical guidelines have benn placed on the tracing paper.
  • 23 Catherine Townsend: “Reflecting Culture Through History: Vienna, Warrandyte and Fritz Janeba,” Thresholds: Papers of the 16th SAHANZ, Richard Blythe and Rory Spence (eds.), Launceston (AU) and Hobart (NZ) 1999.
  • 24 Op.cit., pg.338. Townsend also refers to Hugh O’Neill’s article: “On File: Fredrich Alois (Fritz) Janeba” in Transition, vol.36/37, 1991, p.140.
  • 25 Op.cit. Janeba p.18.
  • 26 Ibid.
  • 27 Ibid. p.18.
  • 28 Ibid. p.17.
  • 29 The term “ambidexterity,” referring to the person functioning as both artist and craftsman, was introduced by Walter Gropius in: Herbert Bayer, Walter Gropius & Ise Gropius (eds.): Bauhaus, 1919-1928, MoMA, New York 1938, p.22.
  • 30 Ibid. p.11.
  • 31 Nicholas Draffin: Two masters of the Weimar Bauhaus: Lyonel Feininger, Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack, Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 1974.
  • 32 Op.cit. Janeba 1966; p.24. His master’s thesis, completed in the University of Melbourne in 1953, was entitled: “Elements of Design: An Approach to Architecture.”
  • 33 “First Year Design Education at METU Symposium,” unpublished notes, METU Ankara:16 November 2018.
  • 34 Ibid.
  • 35 “Texture: is a surface characteristic,” was an assignment given to first-year design students at METU Faculty of Architecture, Fall 1967. Faculty Archives.
  • 36 “Material-Paper Forms-Structures” was an assignment given to first-year design students at METU Faculty of Architecture, Fall 1967, Faculty Archives.
  • 37 Op.cit. Dickerman, p.15.
  • 38 Sevgi Aktüre, Sevin Osmay & Ayşen Savaş (eds.): Anılar. Bir Sözlü Tarih Çalışması. 1956’dan 2006’ya ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi-nin 50 Yılı, (Memories. An Oral History of the METU Faculty of Architecture 1956-2006), METU Press, Ankara 2007.
  • 39 In the General Catalogue of METU Faculty of Architecture from 1961, the title of the course ARCH 101 was listed as “Techniques and Fundamentals of Design.”
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●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

●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. 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”. → 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

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

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