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Architectours Special | Dessau - City of Bauhaus

Dessau is situated in the lovely surroundings of the Elbe and Mulde river floodplains. Today, it is the third biggest city in Saxony-Anhalt. Starting during the reign of Leopold III. in the 18th century, Dessau became one of the centres of the German enlightenment. His reform plans involved the landscape as well as education and culture. The city, characterized by the frank boldness of its architecture, displayed this humanistic spirit and made Dessau comparable to the classical Weimar. The garden realm of Wörlitz, designed by the sovereign himself together with Friedrich Wilhelm of Erdmannsdorff and Johann Friedrich Eyserbeck, was the first large scale scenery garden in continental Europe. The creators succeeded in harmonising garden formations, art, architecture and nature. At the beginning of the year 1925, the municipal council of Dessau decided to go along with mayor Hesse’s suggestion to try to persuade the “Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar”, founded in 1919, to move to Dessau. By that time Dessau had developed into one of the most important industrial cities in Germany. Hugo Junkers’ aeroplane manufacturing plant, the production of gas apparata, the chemical industry as well as heavy engineering all experienced a boom. Dessau had become an attractive place for the Bauhaus architectural school. The groundbreaking “Unity of Art and Technique”, begun in Weimar, could be continued and further developed. Within a short period of time, the newly-constructed school building (today headquarters of the foundation “Bauhaus Dessau”) offered ideal conditions for the education of architecture, design, art and trade. The building itself, designed by Walter Gropius in collaboration with Carl Fieger, is a masterpiece of modern architecture. In 1932, political pressures forced the Bauhaus architectural school to move to Berlin, where Mies van der Rohe continued to run it as a private institution until 1933. The Bauhaus building in Dessau was scarred during the Nazi period, seriously damaged during the Second World War and repeatedly altered in the subsequent decades before it was restored to its original appearance in the 1970s. Concurrent with the Bauhaus building being added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in 1996, an extensive rehabilitation programme was approved. It is scheduled to be completed in 2006. Dessau’s many other buildings from the Bauhaus period – many of which have been restored in line with historic preservation principles – make the city a worthwhile destination for those interested in the classic modern architectural period. back...

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