What is the meaning of Bauhaus today, 100 years after the school was launched? The strong legacy can be discovered in the Bauhaus Museum Dessau, a new building designed by Addenda Architects. Located in the same city where the Bauhaus campus (1926) by Walter Gropius operated, it is home to the second largest Bauhaus collection.
The new building adopts a creative approach to the Bauhaus legacy. “Our basic conception for the museum was to create a large flexible space so that exhibitions and workshops can take place without feeling restricted in any way by the architecture,” says architect Roberto González from Addenda Architects. They won the open architectural competition, which had 831 submissions. Their winning idea was integrated with the requirements for the museum, which needed an area of 1500 square metres for the collection.
The structural system, where a closed concrete cube with no daylight floats above the large open-plan ground level, protects exhibits from direct sunlight. It is supported by two staircases, which are 50 meters apart. The wide open space without columns on the ground floor is designed for contemporary exhibitions, and the permanent collection is housed in the spaces above.
A glass façade surrounds the entire building. It’s transparent, although less than initially intended, because of budgetary constraints. Depending on the time of day, you can see right through the building, when daylight begins to recede.
On the ground the floor the glass walls evoke openness and a connection to the outside and the park next to it. It is a glass box in the Miesien tradition. The city and the park on the other side are reflected in the façade. “There are no limitations. Everything seems open, transparent and fluid” says González. As architects from Barcelona, González acknowledges the influence of the Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Pavilion: “We are definitely a team of Mies fans”, although their maxim could be translated into “more with less”, González points out.
The building is about proportion, positioning and space, González explains. “It’s not so much about using the highest quality materials. The Bauhaus Museum Dessau shows that given the right combination of materials, space, colours etc. you can achieve an outstanding result with limited resources. That’s very Bauhaus.”
There are formal parallels with the Bauhaus Building designed by Walter Gropius, although they are not meant as direct references. “For us these decisions were all about flexibility and function. And Gropius was probably thinking the same thing with the Bauhaus Building”, González explains.
Concern for the environment can be seen as contemporary additions to the Bauhaus vocabulary. The green roof was designed for climatic reasons and for a connection between the building and the park. “Apart from the symbolic motivation there is also a practical reason for doing this: rainwater can be used to water the plants and plants help to isolate the building.” González says. His firm Addenda Architects is based in Barcelona, where architects have less restrictions and regulations about building. González says they pushed the norms with the Bauhaus Museum as far as they could: “Only with the façade did we deliberately rely on the standard requirements”.
The glass façade has triple glazing with a sunscreen protecting against heat. There is also a new system for air conditioning, where the large ground floor space is ventilated with the help of a water pipe. The ventilation echoes the system of traditional Andalusian patios in the south of Spain.