Walter Gropius 1883 1969 The building is the
Walter Gropius 1883 -1969 “The building is the ultimate goal of all fine art” The Bauhaus Manifesto, 1919.
The chronological context of Gropius’ architecture Chronological context in Architecture - Modernism to Postmodernism 1890 s 1900 s 1910 s First generation modernists 1920 s 1930 s 1940 s 1950 s Second generation modernists 1960 s 1970 s 1980 s 1990 s Third generation modernists The pioneers of modernism. They each treated form, space, structure, materials and ornament in novel ways. These were the architects of ‘high modernism’- the universal International Style- as well as the fashionable Art Deco period. These were the architects of Postmodernism. They reacted against the orthodoxy of high modernism. Peter Behrens - Berlin Walter Gropius Frank Gehry Auguste Perret - Paris Le Corbusier Philip Johnson C. R. Mackintosh - Glasgow Mies van der Rohe Charles Moore Otto Wagner - Vienna Gerrit Reitveld I. M. Pei Adolf Loos - Vienna William Van Allen Michael Greaves Louis Sullivan - Chicago Napier Art Deco architects Louis Kahn Frank Lloyd Wright - Chicago and mid-western states of USA Robert Venturi
The context of his architecture Geographical context: Walter Gropius was a German designer and architect whose teaching and practice were based originally in Berlin and Dessau, Germany. He migrated to the USA in 1937 and taught and practiced in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge Dessau
Context continued… Historical context: n n n Walter Gropius was a major pioneer of the modern movement. Through his teaching he became one of the most influential designers of the 20 th century. His most significant building is the Bauhaus Building at Dessau, constructed in 1925 -26. Gropius was a second generation modernist and a contemporary of his fellow German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, both of whom were architecture students of Peter Behrens from 190810. In 1919 Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus, which became the most famous and influential design school of the 20 th century. The creation of the Bauhaus was an extension of the Deutscher Werkbund, a group of German architects, designers and industrialists who sought to merge artistic design and creation with industrial mass-production to produce affordable, high quality, machinemade products and appliances. Watch this short video of the context of the Bauhaus. In 1928 Gropius resigned as director of the Bauhaus and in 1937 he emigrated to the United States (Mies van der Rohe, the third and last Bauhaus director, had already emigrated there in 1933 after the Nazi’s closed the Bauhaus. ) Gropius lectured at Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts and he later established The Architects Collaborative (TAC), a major architectural firm, one of their significant buildings being the former Pan Am Building, (now the Met. Life Building) 1958 -63, (recently voted by New Yorkers as the building they most wanted demolished!) Gropius always adopted a collaborative approach to design. While studying under Peter Behrens he met Adolf Meyer with whom he worked on the design and construction of their first significant building, the Fagus Shoe-last Factory, 1911 -13, and at the Bauhaus. He employed the most radical and innovative artist-designers to staff the Bauhaus, including Marcel Breuer who he continued working with in the United States.
Social context: n Context continued… “Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new [building] of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers. ” This statement by Gropius indicates his concern for the Gesamtkunstwerk, the building stylistically unified with all its furnishings and fixtures. It also reveals the influence of the Dutch De Stijl movement which sought to unite the visual arts of architecture, painting and sculpture into one seamless environment. This concept, derived from William Morris and the English Arts and Crafts movement, and reflected in the more recent organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, was embraced by Gropius, but with an industrial aesthetic and means of production in mind. n n Walter Gropius embraced the philosophy of his teacher Peter Behrens (and that of other members of the Deutscher Werkbund) to affect a change in the German social structure from a class-divided society to an industrially-based, egalitarian mass society. This is evident in the types of buildings that Gropius chose to design; buildings for the masses, for the workers: factories, schools, apartment blocks, and commercial buildings. This rather left-wing socialist philosophy eventually led to the closure of Gropius’ Bauhaus by the Nazi’s in 1933. Bauhaus ideas were however embraced by communist Russia and the commercial, mass-production economy of American. Like Peter Behrens before him, Gropius’ wanted to reconcile artistic design with modern materials and industrial methods of production. He wanted to create well-designed, useful, everyday objects and appliances that were accessible and affordable for the masses. This required mass-production, which in turn necessitated objects be made, at least in part, of industrial materials and standardised components. Standardisation became a design issue at this time because it limited the freedom and scope of artist-designers, and not all Bauhaus creations made it to the consumer mass market.
Two significant Gropius buildings. The Fagus Shoe-last Factory, Alfeld, Germany, 1911 -13 The Bauhaus Building, Dessau, Germany, 1925 -26
Stylistic features of the Fagus Factory This building, built only a few years after Behrens’ AEG Turbine Factory, has been cited as marking the beginning of 20 th century architecture. The skeletal frame enables the walls to become transparent screens to admit sun, air and light for workers. A clear expression of industrial materials: steel, brick, plate glass. Monumental rectangular form, clean lines, standardised elements, no ornament, a machine aesthetic. The corner stairwell exploits the structural potential of reinforced concrete. The cantilevered stairs and landings hang freely in space and are screened by a structurally independent transparent skin of glass.
Context of the Fagus Factory Although the skeletal nature of this building’s structure had already been pioneered by earlier modernists, it is the architectural expression of this building’s structure that is significant. Identify stylistic differences between the structural elements and the wall plains of these three progressive buildings connected with Walter Gropius. Peter Behrens, Walter Gropius, AEG Turbine Factory, Fagus Shoe Factory, Bauhaus Workshops, 1908. 1911 -13. 1926.
Stylistic features of the Bauhaus Building ■ metal frames ■ asymmetrical composition ■ horizontal windows ■ flat roofs ■ transparency ■ internal skeletal structures ■ cantilevered elements ■ white walls ■ open, fluid space ■ glass ‘curtain’ walls ■ windows flush with wall plane ■ functionalist, purist, industrial, machine aesthetic ■ standardised, modular components ■ lightweight, floating effect ■ exposed, utilitarian fixtures Observe other stylistic features here and here
Form and function in the Bauhaus Building Communal area Workshop wing 1 story plus basement, 3 stories plus basement, contains printing, houses divisible dining dying, sculpture, carpentry, weaving, mural, metal workshops, exhibition spaces. and theatre space. Accommodation 5 stories + basement, 28 student apartments with kitchenettes, gymnasium, laundry, lockers, bathrooms. Technical School 3 stories plus basement, houses classrooms, library, administrative offices. The bridge 2 stories raised on stilts, lower level contains masters offices, upper level houses the architecture department.
What was the Bauhaus? Watch this 3 -part video about the Bauhaus (Part One, Part Two, Part Three) From the video research answers to these key questions about the Bauhaus: Part One: 1. What did Gropius establish in the southern German city of Weimar in 1919? 2. What was the aim of the Bauhaus? 3. List EIGHT different artistic disciplines taught at the Bauhaus. 4. Give TWO reasons why the Bauhaus moved to Dessau in 1926. 5. a) What aspect of art did Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee teach? b) What artistic discipline did Mahology Nagy teach? 6. List FIVE different functions of the Bauhaus complex expressed by the building’s design and asymmetrical composition. Part Two: 7. State TWO ways Gropius gave prominence to the architecture workshop, the most important workshop of the Bauhaus. 8. Describe the visual effect, the structure and functional issues of the glass curtain wall of the studio workshop wing of the Bauhaus. 9. State TWO industrial influences acknowledged by Gropius’ at this time. 10. How was the Bauhaus building designed so that “movement, encounters and confrontation between students, areas and disciplines” was achieved? Part Three: 11. What were the flat roofs used for? 12. List THREE interior features (or fixtures) that emphasise the functional aesthetics of the Bauhaus building. 13. How was colour used in a functional way in the Bauhaus complex? 14. Where did the Bauhaus ‘masters’ live and how did some of them react to their supposedly functional villas?
Examples of Bauhaus design Marcel Breuer, Wassily Chair, 1923 Joost Schmidt, Bauhaus Exhibition poster, 1923 El Lissitzky, typography, 1924 Wilhelm Wagenfeld, lamp, 1924 Marianne Brundt, teapot, 1924 Mies van der Rohe, D 42 Armchair, 1927.
The Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1938 The Gropius’ wanted their American home to reflect its surroundings and traveled around New England studying its vernacular architecture. In designing the house, Gropius combined traditional elements of New England architecture such as clapboard, brick, and fieldstone, with new, innovative materials, such as glass block, acoustical plaster, and chromed banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures. Article from the Washington Post Gropius carefully sited the house to complement its site on a rise overlooking an apple orchard and fields. The house was built with economy in mind. The screened porch and terraces extend the living spaces outdoors, it is sited for maximum ventilation and passive solar heating, and all fixtures and building supplies were factory-made items readily available in the United States. Using the Bauhaus design approach the house utilizes standard materials and products. The result is a regionally inspired house that employs the philosophy and goals of the modern movement.
The Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1938 Visit the house here to answer these questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. State THREE parts of the house that use materials traditional to New England buildings. State THREE parts of the house that use new, industrial materials of the time. Give FIVE features of the house that are typical of International Style buildings? Along with the Bauhaus at Dessau, this house is an excellent example of the functionalist architecture of ‘high modernism’, the so-called International Style. List SEVEN particularly functional features of this house. How does Gropius use light and shadow to enliven the house? This house brings a European modernist style into an American cultural context. State TWO means Gropius used to adapt this house to its American cultural context. Who designed much of the furniture for the house and how is he connected with Gropius? List THREE Bauhaus items Gropius placed in the house.