Montag, 16. März 2009

bauhaus 1

To me, Dessau's Bauhaus School has always represented the Ursprung of Modern architecture. For this, I had perhaps unjustly boxed it in to the pure white school of thought, the architecture of abstraction, of bare structure, clear form and not much else. This is to some degree a valid association, the building's simple monumentality attests to that, however it is to ignore its most imaginative, beautiful, and under the circumstances its most surprising aspects.

Once inside, it immediately becomes clear that colour, and a bold balance of converse and convex forms, animate the architecture far beyond an abstract model. The clear surfaces that appear so dominant in the black and white photos of the buildings heyday are not the finished product, they are the canvas for a playfulness seen all too seldom in the architectural styles it has influenced. The most daring play with colour appears in the private Meisterhaus of Klee and Kandinsky, but this only proves that (despite some objection by Gropius as to the precise taste in deco) the formal style was not designed to contain, but rather to explore new boundaries; to release hidden potential.


Dessau's only other worthwhile attraction is the Federal Environment Agency by Sauerbruch Hutton. Similarly, it is a building which can be too easily pidgeonholed when rendered or photographed. Sauerbruch Hutton's fresh and intelligent use of sensous form and colour is vulnerable to attack by the powerful lobby who continue to brand the minimalist, relentlessly stripped-down style of contemporary architecture as the true heir to Modernism. In actual fact, by exploiting new methods in material technology, and more importantly by exploring the impact they have on our emotional bond with the built environment, the FEA has a lot more in common with its neighbour than first meets the eye.

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