Moscow — Berlin — Strelka

26.01.2012, 15:41
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Wednesday was the first day of the Studio Generale sessions devoted to the legacy of Bauhaus. Philipp Oswalt, director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Regina Bittner, head of the Bauhaus Kolleg and Wolgang Thoner, head of the collection department at Bauhaus gave lectures on the history of the school that influenced modernist architecture and aimed to create a new society.

Founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, Bauhaus brought together outstanding architects and artists to face the problems of modernization by means of design. The school sought out to design objects and spaces that would form a future society, where art and technology exist side by side. The move was towards mass production, rationality and functionality yet retaining the individual artistic spirit. The main principle was aimed at practical work through different workshops that were established at the school.
Despite the fact that Bauhaus called for all creativity to be realized in buildings, it did not have classes in architecture until 1927.

During its short existence (1919-1933) Bauhaus had 3 charismatic directors, each with his own view on the concept of new architecture and design. Walter Gropius, head of the school from 1919-1928, put emphasis on architectural training and practice. By involving students in his private architecture practice, he tried to implement new methods of standardization to produce new architecture, which in turn would initiate a new lifestyle.

Hannes Meyer who took the place of the director in 1928, in comparison with Gropius, focused his classes on studying specific conditions of the society which determine the architecture. The habits of the future residents and the potential use of the architecture formed the basis for all planning and design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe on the other hand, head of the school from 1930 – 1933, introduced a system of courses which reduced the possibility for utopian experiments. The students were to direct their attention on designing specific buildings with a «spatial implementation of intellectual decisions», which essentially meant adopting Mies van der Rohe’s aesthetic.

Although forced to close in 1933 by the Nazi regime, the concept of Bauhaus spread worldwide. Nowadays it represents both a research institution and a museum of the Bauhaus heritage. Philipp Oswalt tells us what Bauhaus was and is now:

Almost parallel to Bauhaus, the ideas of new architecture and design were shared by the Russian school Vkhutemas, founded in 1920. It was similar to Bauhaus in many ways, like advocating the merge of craft tradition with technology, having workshops and both being dissolved in the 1930s due to political pressure. It was the center for avant garde movements such as constructivism, rationalism and suprematism with such teachers and leading activists of the movements as Kazimir Malevich, El Lizzitsky and Vasiliy Kandinsky and had many exchanges with Bauhaus. Regina Bittner tells us the importance of the shared concepts, collaborations and art as a means of forming the society:

From creating tension, conflict, stirring up debate and implementing its ideas in practice, the concepts and views of Bauhaus travelled to other parts of the world carrying on its ambitions. In a way Strelka is also partly continuing this combination of research and education and trying to have a positive effect on society.  The avant gard lives on, but will it be as ground-breaking as was once Vkhutemas and Bauhaus? Only time will tell.