Art History Lab

Shaping the Modern World: The Impact of Bauhaus Architecture

Bauhaus Architecture: Shaping the World Around Us

The Bauhaus architecture style has become iconic for its modernist, functionalist approach to design. Invented in the early 20th century, the style has had an immense impact on architecture and design.

This article aims to give an overview of Bauhaus architecture, including its development, history, and features.

Development and Goals of Bauhaus

Bauhaus architecture was a response to the aftermath of World War I. Consisting of a new style of design and architecture, the Bauhaus movement sought to reconstruct society and build something new.

Walter Gropius, the founder of the movement, articulated the goals of the Bauhaus school as the synthesis of craft and technology, and the integration of art and design. One of the most defining features of Bauhaus architecture was its function-first approach.

Rather than creating art for its own sake, Bauhaus aimed to create art that was useful and practical. This meant using industrial materials and modern manufacturing techniques.

The Bauhaus building itself was an exemplar of this philosophy, designed to be both modern and functional. However, the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany led to the closure of the Bauhaus school in 1933.

Many of its leading figures, such as Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, fled the country, spreading the influence of Bauhaus architecture around the world.

Features and Characteristics of Bauhaus Architecture

One of the most striking features of Bauhaus architecture is its use of practical geometry. Instead of using grand curves or ornate details, the Bauhaus movement sought to use simple shapes that could be easily manufactured.

This allowed them to create buildings that were affordable, yet still functional and aesthetically pleasing. Bauhaus architects also made extensive use of abstract shapes and simple color palettes.

This was a reaction against the ornate and elaborate designs of previous architectural styles. The use of non-representational shapes and basic colors made it easier for people to appreciate buildings for their overall design, rather than getting lost in the details.

Another defining feature of Bauhaus architecture was its focus on integrative design. This meant that buildings were designed as a whole, rather than as a collection of separate parts.

Every aspect of the building, from the structural supports to the furniture, was designed to fit together seamlessly. This created a sense of harmony and unity that was missing from many previous architectural styles.

Finally, Bauhaus architects made use of basic manufactured materials. Instead of using expensive and exotic materials, they relied on materials that were commonly available.

This allowed them to create affordable yet functional buildings.

Founding and Relocation of the Bauhaus School

The Bauhaus school was founded in Weimar, Germany in 1919 by Walter Gropius. Its goal was to create a new form of design that would reflect the spirit of the age.

Gropius believed that the previous architecture styles were inadequate for the modern world, and that a new approach was needed. In 1925, the school relocated to Dessau, where Gropius designed an ambitious new building to house the school.

This building became one of the most iconic examples of the Bauhaus style, with its clean lines and functional design. However, by 1933, the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany meant that the Bauhaus school was under threat.

In this year, the school was closed down, and many of its key members were forced to flee the country.

Bauhaus Influence and Spread

Despite the closure of the Bauhaus school, its influence spread around the world. Many former Bauhaus members settled in other countries, and the ideas of the movement were widely disseminated.

One of the most significant impacts of Bauhaus architecture was the way it helped to promote globalism. The movement embraced liberal principles and rejected narrow nationalism, instead promoting a wider view of the world.

This helped to foster a sense of unity and cooperation between different countries and cultures. Today, many of the world’s most significant arts and design schools are rooted in the ideals of the Bauhaus movement.

Its legacy is clear in the many buildings that incorporate the style, and in the broader approach to design that it helped to promote.


In conclusion, Bauhaus architecture was a revolutionary movement that transformed the world of design. Its focus on practicality, function-first approach, and globalism helped to shape the world around us.

The ideas and principles developed by the Bauhaus school continue to influence and inspire designers, architects, and artists around the world.

Bauhaus Architects and Lecturers

The Bauhaus movement was led by some of the most talented architects and lecturers of the time. Each had their own unique perspective and approach to design, which contributed to the movement’s success.

This article will highlight some of the key figures associated with Bauhaus architecture.

Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten was a Swiss artist and teacher who taught in the preparatory class at the Bauhaus school. Itten was interested in organic form and color investigations, and he believed in a comprehensive art education that included all forms of art, including painting, sculpture, and architecture.

One of his most significant contributions to the Bauhaus movement was his color theory, which emphasized the emotional and spiritual effects of color. Itten’s classes at the Bauhaus school were renowned for their experimental and unorthodox approach.

Students were pushed to explore their creativity and challenge conventional thinking, which had a lasting impact on Bauhaus architecture.

Hannes Meyer

Hannes Meyer was a Swiss architect and teacher who succeeded Walter Gropius as the head of the Bauhaus school in 1928. Meyer was interested in low-cost architecture and believed that architecture should serve the needs of the working class.

One of his most famous projects was the Laubenganghuser, a series of affordable housing units with a shared terrace. This project became a model for future housing developments across Europe.

Meyer’s most significant contribution to the Bauhaus movement was his book, Die Neue Baulehre (The New Building Theory). In this book, Meyer laid out a series of principles for modern architecture, including the use of standardization and rationality in design.

Peter Keler

Peter Keler was a German artist and designer who specialized in furniture design. He was known for his color schemes and his use of modern materials like steel and glass.

Keler believed in simplicity and minimalism in design, and he often used simple geometric shapes in his furniture designs. One of Keler’s most famous designs was his “Bauhaus Cradle,” which he designed while studying at the Bauhaus school.

The cradle had a simple, elegant design and was made using lightweight materials like metal and canvas. After leaving the Bauhaus school, Keler went on to work for the design company Tecta, where he continued to explore his ideas about simplicity and minimalism in design.

Marcel Breuer

Marcel Breuer was a Hungarian-American architect and designer who worked closely with Walter Gropius and other members of the Bauhaus movement. One of his most significant contributions to the movement was his chair designs, which were inspired by the principles of the International Style.

Breuer was also interested in Brutalism, a style of architecture that emphasized the use of raw, unadorned materials like concrete. One of his most famous Brutalist designs was the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Breuer’s collaboration with other members of the Bauhaus movement helped to promote the principles of modernism and influenced many architects and designers in later years.

Interesting Bauhaus Facts

The Bauhaus movement was a defining moment in the modern era, and it continues to influence design styles today. Here are some interesting facts about the movement that you may not know.

Truth to Materials

One of the key principles of Bauhaus architecture was “truth to materials.” This meant that architecture should make use of organic materials like concrete, glass, and porcelain, which were used in innovative ways to create unique and striking structures. One famous example of Bauhaus architecture is the Dakin Building in Springfield, Massachusetts, which used porcelain panels to create a visually striking and highly functional exterior.

Bauhaus Influence

The Bauhaus movement had a significant impact on design styles across the world. Many popular design styles, including Scandinavian minimalism and mid-century contemporary architecture, were influenced by the principles of the Bauhaus movement.

The clean lines, simple shapes, and emphasis on functionality continue to be popular in design today.

Industrial Materials

Bauhaus architects were pioneers in the use of industrial materials like glass, steel, and concrete. These materials allowed for the creation of sleek, modern structures that were both beautiful and functional.

The use of these materials also had an impact on interior design, with many Bauhaus-inspired designs incorporating industrial elements like exposed ductwork and concrete floors.

Impact on Current Course Instruction

The Bauhaus movement has had a lasting impact on education, particularly in the field of design. The curriculum developed at the Bauhaus school, including the Vorkurs (preliminary course) and specialized courses in art and design, became a model for design education around the world.

Today, the Bauhaus-Dessau Foundation continues to promote the principles of the movement and support design education and research. In conclusion, the Bauhaus movement continues to be a significant influence on design trends and education.

The principles of truth to materials, industrial materials, and simplicity and functionality continue to inspire architects and designers today. As the Bauhaus-Dessau Foundation and other organizations work to preserve the legacy of the movement, we can look forward to continued innovation and creativity in the world of design.

In conclusion, the history and principles of Bauhaus architecture have had a profound impact on the world of design and continue to inspire architects and designers today. From the development and goals of Bauhaus to the architects and lecturers who made it all possible, Bauhaus architecture emerged as a response to a particular moment in history and continues to influence design styles around the world.

Its lasting appeal lies in its emphasis on simplicity, functionality, and the innovative use of materials. As design education and research continue to evolve, the legacy of the Bauhaus movement will undoubtedly remain an important touchstone and source of inspiration for future generations.

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