Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau represent the most prominent examples of the Bauhaus architectural school, which was the birthplace of Classical Modernism.
The "Staatliche Bauhaus" was responsible for the radical renewal of architecture and design. These seven (groups of) buildings represent both their initial phase in Weimar under Walter Gropius, and the second (and more successful) phase out of Dessau (with Hannes Meyer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe). The Bauhaus building, made out of concrete, glass and steel, is a landmark in 20th-century architecture.
Community Perspective: This has received glowing reviews from the modern architecture-loving part of the WH community (Ian even wrote 3 reviews!). Taking a guided tour of the Bauhaus building is a good start to understanding their ideas.
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If I were to pick the most special WHS I've seen this year, it would have to be the Bauhaus sites. It is not because they are beautiful and grand, but more because of the impact they have made to the world. I myself was surprised to find out that something so common and recent could still be so interesting! Modern architecture and modern designs as we know today have largely been shaped by this school of thought. Its influences are still apparent today, and they, perhaps, are even more relevant now than they were ever before.
My visit in Germany could not be more timely: the Bauhaus celebrates its 100th year anniversary this 2019. I was able to trace back the evolution of this school of thought beginning with a visit to Weimar where it all started in 1919. There, I even witnessed a class performance (Bauhaus in action?) at the "Bauhaus Box" beside the administration building. Next, I went to Dessau where the Bauhaus reached its period of initial blossoming, and then to Berlin where its principles were extended and applied for the greater good, i.e., when Walter Gropius took part in the creation of the Grosssiedlung Siemensstadt (of the Berlin Modernist Housing Estates-WHS).
I have also seen works of other Bauhaus masters such as that of Mies van der Rohe in the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. And when I thought I have already had enough of Bauhaus, I got an assignment to go to Israel, on the invitation of their ministry of tourism, where I had to fly out again literally 36 hours after I arrived back in Manila to get there. In Tel Aviv, I was billeted in a hotel right at the heart of the White City, which sports the largest concentration of Bauhaus buildings in the world. Suffice to say, the whole "Bauhaus theme" experience for me was indeed memorable, and more or less complete.
The message of the Bauhaus is rather clear and simple: Despite its troublesome beginnings, the Bauhaus has left so many marks around the world. Sometimes, however, we take them for granted and forget how they have made our lives more comfortable. If there is one tradition that perfectly embodies the spirit of a "true" global heritage and what it should be, the Bauhaus brand of modernism fits that without any question. I was happy enough to bring home a copy of 2019 special edition of the "Bauhaus: 1919-1932" book, a commemorative puzzle that says, "From Thuringia to the World", as well as fridge magnets depicting Bauhaus buildings of Tel Aviv -- indeed, great souvenirs from a wonderful World Heritage Site!
I have visited all sites in Weimar and Dessau. Two University buildings in Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse in Weimar are not spectacular but very pleasant sites with relaxed cafe - worth-visiting and -inscription anyway. The Haus am Horn (seen from outside) is also not spectacular but I can understand at least its importance. However, I would prefer living in nearby Goethe house...
The main BAUHAUS building and Masters` hauses in Dessau are superb, and they belong to my top-sites I have ever visited (everything described by other reviewers).
However, the extensions in 2017 are a bit problematic from my point of view. I could see the Hauses with balcony access (photo) during my trip to Dessau. Though they are important examples of application of bauhaus ideas in everyday life, I am not sure if they deserve to be inscribed as WHS. My opinion is that this is a typical example of approach that the iconic site is degraded by adding of more and more components. I am able to understand reasons and that Germany did painstaking work to cover all aspects of Bauhaus, but... it should have certain limits. The hauses are located in southern suburb of Dessau accessible by tram from the city center. This part of Dessau is worth-visiting for modern architecture enthusiast, because there is fine ensamble of buildings from first half of 20th century. Another interesting and nice building is the Employment Office designed by Walter Gropius (August-Bebel-Platz 16) with unique disposition. Despite of historical, architectonic and aesthetic qualities of all these buildings, they should not be part of the Bauhaus WHS.
Thus I had to change my rating from 5 to 4 stars. I hope that the extension process of this site has already stopped...
Eight years ago I wrote about how, for fans of modern art and architecture, a trip to the Bauhaus is less 'a visit' and more 'a pilgrimage'. In the intervening period it has been the greatest delight in my life to have met and married someone who shared my giddy excitement about this building. As such the night we spent staying in the former student accommodation was one that will stay long in our memory.
It was near impossible to wipe the smile off of our faces when we checked in at the nice cafe and realised we had been given the keys to the front door of the Bauhaus!
The whole evening consisted of us wandering around anywhere in the building that we could access with our set of keys, we were like kids in a candy-shop. We excitedly wondered who may have lived in our room, Josef and Anni Albers perhaps? I was also struck by how similar it was to my own Central European university dorm room, again showing the effect this institution has on everyday life.
Every aspect of the building seemed to enthral us from the Gropius handles to the stools in the Mensa it is fair to say that we were giddily geeking out at the smallest details but as Mies would say that is where God resides.
But beyond appealing to those already converted I felt that the audio guide and museum exhibits did a great job of explaining the importance and relevance of the site to everyday life.
Since my last visit the Masters Houses have had something of a makeover, with those that had previously been demolished rebuilt as blank concrete boxes. I thought this worked really well, and certainly was an improvement from the small unremarkable bungalows that sat in their place last time. Additionally my wife and I have a list of artists’ houses that we have visited, and we almost doubled it on this one street. Also I was delighted to see the rebuilding of the newspaper kiosk on the corner facing the Georginium park, not only because it meant the two world heritage sites were visibly closer to each other, but also because it was the only building that Mies built with a direct link to the Bauhaus.
I was already a big fan of this site, but the wonderful experience of staying the night inside the student accommodation and sharing that experience with someone else to whom it also meant so much means that I have no problem putting this site as one of the finest World Heritage Sites I have ever visited.
Site 9 : Experience 10
Read more from Ian Cade here.
Having now visited the site in Weimar I can now understand the lukewarm reviews of what is one of my favourite German WHS.
If you are just visiting to tick it off then it really isn't much more than some well-designed academic buildings. Architecturally interesting but not spectacular, it sort of feels like any other European university, and whilst there are real links to the schools artistic heritage I just didn't feel like I was somewhere particularly important.
It wasn’t until we were walking through the the central building that we discovered there were tours offered, perhaps the site would have made more sense with them.
On the whole it isn't really that interesting and when it is viewed as a detour from central Weimar is somewhat underwhelming.
My advice, if you are wanting to get the best out of this World Heritage Site, make the trip to Dessau.
Site 4: Experience 3
To see all of the Bauhaus buildings included in the World Heritage Site, you’ll need to visit two German cities – Weimar and Dessau, which are about 150 kilometres apart.
In Weimar, the former Art College and the School of Arts and Crafts are now part of a university and you are able just to walk in and have a look at the buildings for yourself. There are also city tours available which include these sites.
The Haus am Horn is about 20 minutes walk from the university buildings and is a small residence in the Bauhaus style. It is only open on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between April and September.
If you can only visit one of the cities, then Dessau is probably the better option. The main Bauhaus building is a true representation of what the movement stands for and also has a shop and museum with some of the design examples that were developed at the same time.
The nearby Masters’ Houses show more of a progression in the Bauhaus principles than the residence in Weimar and are also easier to access because they are all open to the public most of the year.
Read more from Michael Turtle here.
As much as I liked the classical sites of Weimar, I was not overly impressed with the Bauhaus sites in this town. I took a look inside the Bauhaus University and walked around the other buildings, but could not find anything really interesting (I am admittedly not a big fan of modern architecture in general). There is a reasonably interesting (but quite small) Bauhaus Museum as well (directly opposite the National Theatre and the famous statue of Goethe and Schiller). A few years after my visit to Weimar (2015), I finally made it to Dessau as well (2019). I have to say, though, that I visited more for the sake of "completing" a site rather than genuine interest. I took a quick walk through the main building (without a guided tour) and then went to see the nearby Masters' houses. I understand the importance and influence of this site, but for me, it was rather about visiting Weimar and Dessau for their other WH sites and ticking off the Bauhaus along the way.
I visited the Bauhaus sites in Weimar in June 2013. The University and Goethe's garden house were interesting to visit but the highlight in Weimar is the Haus am Horn. I'm no architecture buff and it most certainly is NOT a spectacular sight to see ... but when I considered WHEN it was built and how this influenced the way apartments are built today, I got to appreciate its OUV and look forward to visiting Dessau in the near future. I still very much prefer the Rietveld Schroderhuis in Utrecht but at least such important buildings are open to the public so I was happy enough to be able to visit.
On my stay in Weimar we visited the two sites of the Bauhaus nomination that are there: the Bauhaus University and Haus am Horn.
Haus am Horn was built as a model and is therefore very very small. Unfortunately, it was closed so we could only admire the exterior. This was pretty underwhelming, mainly compared with such sites as Tel Aviv or Villa Tugendhat. Maybe a tour through the building would have made it look more important.
The Bauhaus University is, on the other hand, a living building with students and lecturers moving around it. It preserved its original design and I find it worthy of visit not only for historic reasons, but also for architectonic ones.
The impact of the Bauhaus on modern architecture and design is undoubtedly immense. Everyone can find traces of these ideas in his everyday live: buildings, furniture and objects of daily use. Although the Bauhaus School was founded in Weimar in 1919, the building in Dessau (photo) designed by Walter Gropius is the symbol of the Bauhaus idea: the unity of art and technology based on function. The glass curtain walls are striking, Gropius has used this element for the first time at the Fagus Factory. I would recommend to take a guided tour, even though they are in German language. The tour takes you through many parts of the building that are not open to individual visitors: the auditorium, the cafeteria, the director's office, a student flat. Everywhere you can see examples (such as door handles, furniture, lamps) that the interior design follows the same principles as the architecture.
The Masters' Houses are just a few minutes away from the school building and well worth a visit. After the move from Weimar to Dessau, Gropius designed three twin-houses for the Bauhaus masters and a single house for the director himself. Although the houses are constructed from the same basic elements, the interiors were designed differently according to the tastes of the residents. The house of Gropius and one half of a Master's House were destroyed in the WWII. In 2011/2012, both buildings are going to be reconstructed in their original form.
There are other examples of the Bauhaus architecture in Dessau, that are not included in the WHS, but probably interesting for fans of modern architecture. In the district of Dessau-Törten, Gropius designed a housing estate of terraced houses with kitchen gardens. The intention was to build affordable houses for the masses. The housing estate is well preserved, but the buildings have undergone many modifications. Especially, the window fronts are changed almost everywhere. One house has been reconstructed in the original form, it is used by the Moses-Mendelssohn-Society and can be visited. There is also a daily guided tour through the Törten estate (start at the Konsum Building). During the tour the visitors can also see an apartment in a “Laubenganghaus” (house with balcony access) and the Steel House. Near the train station is the former Employement Office designed by Gropius. It is still used as a public building (nowadays the city's Traffic Office) and can be visited during opening times. Near the Elbe river is the restaurant Kornhaus, that should be visited not only for its architecture but also because of the excellent food. The terrace offers a magnificent view to the Elbe, this area is part of the Middle Elbe Biosphere Reserve.
During my visit I realized how important the influence of the Bauhaus really was. Many of the ideas that were developed in Weimar and Dessau are today a matter of course and part of our everyday lives. All in all one of my favourite WHS - however, I'm obviously a fan of modern architecture.
We had accommodation at the lovely bed-and-breakfast "7 Säulen" (7 Pillars) opposite to the Master's Houses, which I can also recommend.
I visited the Bauhaus Museum and the Masters' Houses in Dessau, a housing estate in Dessau-Sud as well as the Bauhaus University and the Haus am Horn in Weimar. Whilst I realise that in the 1920s and 30s this architecture was exceptional, 80 years later it is commonplace, so I wonder why they are WHS. Is it enough that they were the first to justify the listing.
I visited the house in Weimar, at the edge of the park, the grounds of the local Schloss....Goethe lived there for some time also about 200 m away in his time.
I walked the inside and found it ample and practical.
The active and bedrooms located around the living-room with its elevated and windowed atrium was at the comfortable center of the place. It can only be compared with an Adobe style house of the Navaho, they also went vertical in tiers.
When one thinks about it there are not too many cultural sites on the list about which one can say that “here emerged ideas which have impacted my daily life”. The Bauhaus is such a place – in terms of the buildings I have worked in, the chairs I have sat on, the consumer goods I have used etc. A truly “Imaginative” WHS both for what it achieved AND for being selected! A refreshing change from the turgid lists of minor religious buildings! OK – so no “idea” starts solely in 1 place, much “Bauhaus thought” predated the organisation and even the Bauhaus itself came from Weimar (which the inscribed site includes) but I still felt a frisson from walking the corridors of the School in Dessau and looking out of these windows – a frisson I have found missing at many more supposedly “significant” sites. There are several "bauhaus buildings" in the town - not all on the inscribed list - I rather liked the Restaurant near the river which for some reason wasn't included.
The video in the Bauhaus Museum in Weimar is a perfect introduction to the history of the Bauhaus school. It was literally a school: with pupils (men and women), a curriculum and inspirational teachers. A half-year introduction course with a strong theoretical emphasis (and some meditation!) was mandatory. After that, the students were trained by both artists and craftsmen.
The museum exhibits documents related to Bauhaus history and shows several functional objects made by Bauhaus artists. Some chairs and household utensils are still being produced. I found it really worth visiting.
I also had a look at the three WH-listed Bauhaus monuments in Weimar. The Haus am Horn is situated in a residential street near Weimars classical monuments in the Park on the Ilm. It's a simple building. The two buildings that housed the Art Schools are also preserved quite well. One can almost imagine the long-haired, artsy students coming and going.
If your idea of a good World Heritage site is a historic city centre, then this is perhaps not the best place to visit as arriving from the train station the Bauhaus itself could easily be mistaken for any other municipal building pretty much anywhere in the world. However if like me you have a keen interest in modern architecture or design this is less a visit and more a pilgrimage.
The main building of the Bauhaus was designed by Walter Gropius after the school was forced to relocate due to political changes in Wiemar. Gropius is one of the key architects of the twentieth century and this building is his masterpiece. As I have already said it seems to look like many other buildings throughout the world, however it would be more accurate to say that all the other buildings look like this one.
It feels instantly familiar being like the buildings I have used for everything in my life; schools, housing blocks, offices and hospitals and this is where its great value lies. Many of the aims of the Bauhaus have been corrupted, as shown by the particularly expensive gift shop, however the international spread of ideas and objects pioneered in this building are undeniable.
I would recommend taking the guided tour, it was only available in German however it allows you to see much more of the building, especially impressive was the main auditorium, and the office from which Gropius and later Mies Van Der Rohe (a bit of a personal hero) conducted the day to day running of the school. I was also impressed that many of the chair designed by Breuer were available to be sat upon, normally when you see them they are very much of limits in museums and it was with great joy that I finally sat down in his famous Wassily chair looking out of the rows of windows.
About a 10-minute walk away are the master's houses, also designed by Gropius and these are great pieces from the International school of architecture, however we did not visit their interior.
The international importance of the Bauhaus institution is huge, Mies and Gropius both developed the ideas further at IIT and MIT respectively in the USA and architects that have trained under them have shaped the face of many modern cities.
For many people the Bauhaus may not be very interesting and Dessau itself is often ignored by guide books, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing of cities, however for me this was a great World Heritage site and one that can identifiably been seen as having a global impact, a personal favourite.
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To include five Houses with Balcony Access near southwest of Dessau-Roßlau and ADGB Trade Union School near Bernau
2017 Name change
From "Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau" to "The Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau"
Bureau - more info on conservation plans etc
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