The Bauhaus Design Movement The Bauhaus is one of the most important Design Movements in the twentieth century. It took place in Germany of the 1920s and early 1930s, the period of the Weimar Republic, an area considered one of the birthplaces of the Modern Movement in architecture and design. The impact of the horrible experiences in the First World War, poverty and inflation created a new consciousness, which influenced strongly Design, Architecture and Art. This was the age of the Bauhaus, a movement which was a reaction to social change and which aspired an aesthetic relevance.
The “New Man” became the ideal, a concept that also expressed itself in living. The Bauhaus Design showed a purism with emphasis on straight edges and smooth, slim forms. The rooms were sparsely furnished, but filled with hygienic freshness. Superfluous features were taboo. Shining steel was discovered as a material for furniture. Furniture A principle of the Bauhaus was to serve the development of contemporary housing, from the most basic household equipment to the complete house.
Walter Gropius, the director of the Bauhaus, was convinced, “that houses and their furnishings must have a meaningful relation to each other and aims to derive the form of every object from its natural functions and limitations, by means of systematic experimentation. ” The Bauhaus designers were fascinated by metal. Although metal has been employed for the frames of chairs since antiquity, it was surprising that the avant-garde metal furniture were greeted with consternation. The furniture looked so differently from the traditional style, that the masses could not relate to them.
For the Bauhaus designers metal or tubular steel was lighter, cheaper, less bulky and more hygienic than the traditional upholstered furniture. The idea behind this new aesthetics was to built cheap and beautiful homes, were the cool and durable materials of the furniture would create a new type of beauty. Steel has a natural elasticity. And steel had the added advantage of a certain uniformity. It gives the impression of a psychological and aesthetic purity. The formal transformation of chairs and sofas by the use of a framework of resilient metal or steel is a clear characteristic.
Also beauty emanates from the furniture because of their exact forms and measurements, a kind of “Magic of precision”. Marcel Breuer Marcel Breuer, whose Wassily Chair is one of the famous examples of the Bauhaus furniture, was in charge of the carpentry workshop. Breuer said, that he first got the idea for using tubular steel in furniture design from his beloved Adler bicycle, whose strength and lightness impressed him. The Wassily Chair, named after the painter Wassily Kandinsky, for whose quarters in Dessau it was originally designed, is a reworking of the traditional club chair.
It reveals the influence of the Dutch modernist Gerrit Rietveld, in its arrangements of bisecting horizontal and vertical planes. Le Corbusier Le Corbusier’s ideas of furniture were simple and to the point. He said for example, “… a chair is a machine for sitting on. ” And the “machine concept” is shown clearly in some of his famous furniture designs. The so called LC4, the ultimate “Rest Machine” is one of the most comfortable Lounge Chairs ever built. The seat is held by elastic supports, which has led to new and unusual forms. Everything is dominated by smooth, elegant lines.
Mies van der Rohe The furniture designs by Mies van der Rohe are among the most influential in the twentieth century. Van der Rohe’s furniture are connected to his architectural designs and correspond closely to the architectural concept. They compliment the interiors of his buildings. Mies designed furniture only for a relative short time (1927 to 1932), but nevertheless are among the most influential of the modernist movement. Especially the Barcelona chair, designed for the German Pavilion in Barcelona, became a Symbol for the elegance of avant-garde living.
Gropius’ extensive facilities for the Bauhaus at Dessau combine teaching, student and faculty members’ housing, an auditorium, and office spaces. The pinwheel configuration when viewed from the air represents in form the propellers of the airplanes manufactured in the Dessau area. This complex embodies various technological and design oriented advancements including a petchance for glazing, the creation of an architecture of transparency with the supporting structure rising behind the facing skin. It was a radical structure populated by progressive minds touting a unique group-oriented approach to learning. The Bauhaus building provides an important landmark of architectural history, even though it was dependent on earlier projects of the architect… as well as on the basic outlines and concepts of Frank Lloyd Wright. “It consists of three connected wings or bridges… School and workshop are connected through a two-story bridge, which spans the approach road from Dessau. The administration was located on the lower level of the bridge, and on the upper level was the private office of the two architects, Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, which could be compared to the ship captain’s ‘command bridge’ due to its location.
The dormitories and the school building are connected through a wing where the assembly hall and the dining room are located, with a stage between. “The basic structure of the Bauhaus consists of a clear and carefully thought-out system of connecting wings, which correspond to the internal operating system of the school. The technical construction of the building… is demonstrated by the latest technological development of the time: a skeleton of reinforced concrete with brickwork, mushroom-shaped ceilings on the lower level, and roofs covered with asphalt tile that can be walked upon.
The construction area consisted of 42,445 [cubic yards] (32,450 [cubic meters]) and the total cost amounted to 902,500 marks. Such an economical achievement was possible only due to the assistance of the Bauhaus teachers and students, which at the same time, of course, could be viewed as an ideal means of education. ” “One of the outstanding achievements of the new constructional technique has been the abolition of the separating function of the wall. Instead of making the walls the element of support, as in a brick-built house, our new space-saving construction transfers the whole load of the structure to a steel or concrete framework.
Thus the role of the walls becomes restricted to that of mere screens stretched between the upright columns of this framework to keep out rain, cold, and noise. … Systematic technical improvement in steel and concrete, and nicer and nicer calculation of their tensile and compressive strength, are steadily reducing the area occupied by supporting members. This, in turn, naturally leads to a progressively bolder (i. e. wider) opening up of the wall surfaces, which allows rooms to be much better lit.
It is, therefore, only logical that the old type of window—a hole that had to be hollowed out of the full thickness of a supporting wall—should be giving place more and more to the continuous horizontal casement, subdivided by thin steel mullions, characteristic of the New Architecture. And as a direct result of the growing preponderance of voids over solids, glass is assuming an ever greater structural importance…. In the same way the flat roof is superseding the old penthouse roof with its tiled or slated gables.
For its advantages are obvious: (1) light normally shaped top-floor rooms instead of poky attics, darkened by dormers and sloping ceilings, with their almost unutilizable corners; (2) the avoidance of timber rafters, so often the cause of fires; (3) the possibility of turning the top of the house to practical account as a sun loggia, open-air gymnasium, or children’s playground; (4) simpler structural provision for subsequent additions, whether as extra stories or new wings; (5) elimination of unnecessary surfaces presented to the action of wind and weather, and therefore less need for repairs; (6) suppression of hanging gutters, external rain-pipes, etc. , that often erode rapidly. With the development of air transport the architect will have to pay as much attention to the bird’s-eye perspective of his houses as to their elevations. The utilization of flat roofs as ‘grounds’ offers us a means of re-acclimatizing nature amidst the stony deserts of our great towns;… Seen from the skies, the leafy house-tops of the cities of the future will look like endless chains of hanging gardens. “