I have told you that I would like to study in Bauhaus before didn’t I? And I didn’t go but continue to pursue a master degree in Japan instead.
However, about 3 years ago, I did visit Germany and I of course I wouldn’t miss visiting Bauhaus in Dessau which is just a few stones away from Berlin. Bauhaus in Dessau compared to other Bauhaus school that exist in Germany for me hold a special importance. One of which is of course being a person from an architecture background is to visit that one particular UNESCO Heritage building that has become the poster face of Bauhaus. Another reason is that more than a decade ago, my mother visited the campus, took a picture in front of the building and when she returned she showed the then elementary schooler me about the place; aside from that her visit there is what inspired her to design my family house back in Indonesia with a semi-basement that appears to be under the ground from the front, yet it is above the ground when observed from behind.
Now that I mention it, I realized that it was the first time I heard about Bauhaus design school, not during my university years in Malaysia. Perhaps I didn’t remember it well because when my mother first mentioned it I was still an elementary schooler who instead of planning to study architecture and design, would rather instead be a comic artist or an illustrator when I grow up. (Although as we know now, people do change, I did wanted to become an architect eventually at one point of my life, and now it has changed again and here I am being a graphic-slash-UI-slash-UX designer instead.)
Das Bauhaus in Dessau
The building in particular was designed by one of the father of modernist architecture (or also called international style) and the founder of Bauhaus, Walter Gropius. It is easy to overlook that the appearance of simple clean wall, columns and slabs without structural or decorative elements, with huge glass windows that can be found in most buildings we see today as something “usual” or “common” and maybe even “insignificant”. But these design elements were a groundbreaking design back then, when most buildings are design with intricate details and to have huge glass windows that act as a transparent wall was unheard of before. Most buildings during that times were designed with intricate details, heavy load-bearing walls and to have glass walls on a building was a huge engineering feat.
Moreover, when you visit the building itself, even if we could say that the building employs design principles that are “common” in building practice nowadays; you would still notice that it is NOT just a common building. This is an example of a masterclass in modernist architecture, designed by and later developed by the old masters. A perfect example of a what we consider a simple and common thing, but in the hand of a master it would turn into an entirely different thing altogether.
As I don’t really have much time to spend in Dessau, I could only visit some part of the building, like the cafetaria on the ground floor which I did tried to purchase my lunch with my rusty German (and failed miserably only to revert back to use English to communicate… *sad*). After finishing lunch I visited some gallery on the upper floor and there’s a shop that sells some design books and other creative design products, which obviously I’d love to spend more time there but I can’t, I need to catch the train back to Berlin.
On the way back, there are houses that maybe are the accommodations for the school professors, lecturers, or maybe even staffs…I don’t know. But I noticed some particular elements on these houses, that they have a semi-basement with openings that allow sunlight to enter the sub-strata level of the building.
Now I think I know exactly where my mother found the inspiration for the semi-basement design of our family home!