Goethe, Schiller, Herder, Gropius. What? Who again? Even though Weimar is best known as a city of classics, it actually has a second UNESCO World Heritage Site to offer. The sites of the Bauhaus Architecture Weimar. It was here in Weimar that the first building uniting all the arts of the Bauhaus was created. In 2019, as part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the city has stepped up its efforts to preserve its modernist heritage.
Predecessor of the Bauhaus Architecture – Henry van de Velde in Weimar
However, the Bauhaus was not the first school of architecture in Weimar. Even before that, the Belgian Henry van de Velde was the director of the local arts and crafts school. He also set some accents in Weimar as an architect. Therefore, a discovery tour to the places of work of Henry van de Velde in Weimar is also worthwhile.
Van de Velde comes to Weimar
Henry van de Velde was a socialist and belonged to the reform movement. He lived and his family lived a very progressive life for the time. He advocated clear forms in architecture and design. He had come to Weimar because he was to build a memorial to the late philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth had hired him to do this. This marked the beginning of his work in Weimar.
Main building of the Bauhaus University
The Archduke Wilhelm Ernst also attracted contemporary artists to Weimar and ensured a certain freedom. He hired van de Velde as director of the School of Arts and Crafts. This is where the most creative phase in the artist’s life began. The former main building of the School of Arts and Crafts and the Henry van de Velde Building stand on Geschwister-Scholl-Straße. The buildings were already planned and erected from 1904 to 1906 according to plans by Henry van de Velde. The staircase there shows replicas of wall designs by Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer. The director’s room, which can be visited, was designed by Walter Gropius for the 1923 Bauhaus exhibition. The best way to discover the buildings is to take a Bauhaus walking tour.
Hohe Pappeln House
Van de Velde himself lived with his family of seven in the Hohe Pappeln House during his Weimar period. Today it is a museum of the Klassik Foundation Weimar. Hohe Pappeln House was named by the eldest son of the family after the large poplars (Pappeln in German) that surrounded the property. When it was built, it stood far away from the city. The shape of the house is quite simple for the time. In addition to the construction, the furniture was also designed by him, but not all the pieces for the Hohe Pappeln House. Particularly noteworthy here are the practical installations, which are characterized by the use of available space and the design of even the smallest details, such as vents in the walls, a kitchen elevator and much more.
More Henry van de Velde Works in Weimar
In addition to his own building, he also designed the Palais Dürckheim (Cranachstrasse 47), the Villa Henneberg (Gutenbergstrasse 1a) and the first floor of the Nietzsche Archive (Humboldtstrasse 36). In the case of the Menzel apartment building (Trierer Strasse 71), his involvement is still disputed today. In the Neues Museum Berlin (“New Museum”) there is a whole range of furniture and other objects designed by van de Velde. You can also see important buildings by Henry van de Velde in Chemnitz and Gera. His work in Weimar ended later, similar to that of the Bauhaus. During the First World War, he was exposed to strong resentment as a Belgian, which led to his resignation as early as 1915, but he could not travel to Switzerland until 1917 and had to stay in Weimar until then.
History of the Bauhaus Weimar
The Bauhaus comes from Weimar – this was the name of an exhibition that was intended to focus Dessau’s attention a little more on the origins of the Bauhaus in the city of the classics. In 1919, the School of Architecture and Design was founded in Weimar. The First World War had just ended. There were not only millions of dead people. Entire empires, and with them established societies, collapsed. Suddenly, Germans were living in a democracy that had even been proclaimed here in Weimar. With it, society had also become freer. New experiments were possible. The perfect breeding ground for the Bauhaus Weimar.
The Bauhaus in Weimar – Do opposites attract themselves?
Weimar was a conservative, middle-class city at the time. Even Henry van der Velde, as director of the School of Arts and Crafts, had felt this from time to time. But a new era seemed to have dawned in Weimar as well. Suddenly this group came up with revolutionary ideas. They were also often social democrats or communists. How did this fit into Weimar? It was not without friction, and it remained one of the reasons why the Bauhaus stayed here for only about six years before becoming the Bauhaus Dessau. The constant conflict with the authorities wore on the nerves of Walter Gropius and the other Bauhaus masters. Nevertheless, some groundbreaking projects were created here that remain icons of modernism to this day.
Bauhaus Weimar sights
Buildings or objects created by the Bauhaus masters or students are few in Weimar. Nevertheless, you can see some significant objects here.
Model house “Haus am Horn”
For us, the Haus Am Horn is the most impressive testimony to the early phase of the Bauhaus architecture in Weimar. What looks like a dreary new building from the outside was far ahead of its time. It was also the first building to unite the ideas of the Bauhaus. It is basically the Bauhaus building, because as Walter Gropius wrote in the Bauhaus Manifesto in 1919, “The ultimate goal of all artistic activity is construction.” The house itself is not preserved in all its details, as there were many interim uses. We recommend that you learn about the house beforehand so that you can discover the details of the building. Or you can take part in a guided tour. From the layout of the rooms to the air circulation in the basement – here you can learn a lot about modern architecture.
If you are looking for the Bauhaus in Weimar, you will mainly find the Bauhaus Museum. In 2019, the new museum with 1000 exhibits finally opened. Previously, it was housed for years in a neoclassical building on Theaterplatz, which did not quite fit to the Bauhaus architecture in Weimar. Therefore, the new building was eagerly awaited by many in Weimar and by Bauhaus fans worldwide. The new architecture was determined in a competition. The contract was finally awarded to architects Heike Hanada and Benedict Tonon.
Exhibition at the Bauhaus Museum Weimar
The Bauhaus Museum exhibits the most famous works of the Bauhaus from the Weimar creative period. In the museum you deal with the creation as well as the emergence and fate of the school. In Weimar, there was not one single Bauhaus style and experimentation was paramount. However, the Bauhaus Weimar designs were often based on the basic geometric shapes of square, circle or triangle. This can be seen impressively in the cradle of Peter Keler, who was under the influence of the master Wassily Kandinsky. The Wagenfeld lamp, furniture by Marcel Breuer, the Bogler storage vessels and the carpets by Benita Koch-Otte can also be seen here and are put into their context.
Monument to the Victims of March Struggles
Gropius designed this monument for the workers killed in the political struggles during the Kapp Putsch in 1920. Nine workers had been killed by the putschists at a meeting. Several trade unions entrusted Walter Gropius with the erection of the monument. It is supposed to represent a “lightning ray from the bottom of the grave as an emblem of the living spirit.” It is also called “Gropius-Blitz”. It was blown up by the Nazis in 1936 and then rebuilt after the war by the authorities in the Soviet occupation zone.
Ilmschlösschen – Dine, where the Bauhaus members celebrated parties
Even though the building was not close to being built in the Bauhaus architecture style, the Ilmschlösschen was still one of the favorite places of the Bauhaus members. Also because of the low prices, they often gathered here to celebrate together. Legendary among other things are the costume evenings they celebrated here, for each of which they designed their own costumes in the style of the Bauhaus. Today, good Thuringian cuisine is served here.
Bauhaus University Weimar – Reincarnation of the Bauhaus?
Today’s Bauhaus University uses the name of the Bauhaus, but it does not necessarily see itself in the tradition of it. Today, many art disciplines are taught here, but also completely different courses of study than in the days of the Bauhaus. The organization also corresponds to that of a normal German university. Nevertheless, many students of the Bauhaus University are also proud of the namesakes and try to pick up the ideas of the Bauhaus in their studies. For a walk, you should therefore first go to the main building of the Bauhaus University. This is where the history of the Bauhaus as a Weimar institution began. Weimar’s citizens attach great importance to the fact that the Bauhaus originated in Weimar and not, as many think, in Dessau.
Bauhaus souvenirs from Weimar
There are three places where you can grab souvenirs from your Bauhaus Weimar trip.
- The museum store in the Bauhaus Museum offers a wide selection of small souvenirs and books about and from the Bauhaus.
- Less trend-setting, but still full of fun ideas and interesting potential Christmas gifts, by the way, is the Bauhaus Christmas Market in the university’s main building on an Advent weekend in December.
- But you can also buy souvenirs at the Bauhaus Atelier, the university’s store behind the Van de Velde building.
You want to learn more about the Bauhaus architecture in Weimar? Here we have compiled a few books on the subject for you.
Great overview that does not only include the buidlings, but also describes how Bauhaus influenced design in general
Magdalena Droste’s 500-page book is now considered one of the standard works on the Bauhaus. Wonderfully illustrated, it examines the history of the Bauhaus.
The Bauhaus women are almost unknown to the public. High time to change that! This book describes their influence and puts them into a global perspective.