The one-time hub of the worldwide Bauhaus movement was Dessau’s Bauhausgebäude, which now houses the Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (Bauhaus Foundation). The work of Walter Gropius, this white concrete building with its huge plate-glass windows was refurbished on its eightieth anniversary in 2006, making it look tremendously new. The famous Bauhaus logo graces the southern side; the photogenic “swimming pool” balconies its eastern wall.
At the time of its construction the building was an architectural sensation and prototype for several construction techniques. A reinforced concrete skeleton allowed for curtain walling – outer walls designed to carry nothing but their own weight – and introduced wide-span building techniques that opened up more useable floor space by removing the need for supporting columns. These principles really flourished from the 1950s and 1960s and have dominated since – making them less of a spectacle for today’s viewer.
Though still in use as a design school, the public can wander round much of the building, with the audio tour a useful accompaniment, particularly if you can’t make the hour-long tours in German which access otherwise locked areas. Both can be organized at the first-floor front desk, which sells tickets to Dessau’s other Bauhaus attractions and is the entrance to the Ausstellung im Bauhaus (Exhibition in the Bauhaus), which explores the experimental application of Bauhaus theory in just about every sphere of art and design, including ceramics, furniture, theatre and visual art. Finally, the well-stocked basement book and gift shop is also worth a look.