Bauhaus Builds! The Growing House by Ludwig Hilberseimer

Bauhaus Builds! The Growing House by Ludwig Hilberseimer

University of Kassel

Photo: Christoph Petras/PR-Bild.

August 16, 2019
Bauhaus Builds! The Growing House by Ludwig Hilberseimer
06849 Dessau-Roßlau

A new Bauhaus building: After 80 years, the incomplete ensemble of balcony-access houses in Dessau by Hannes Meyer—today a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is finally completed as an innovative mixed housing development. Students of the University of Kassel realized the Growing House by Ludwig Hilberseimer as a design/build project.

The most innovative contribution of the Bauhaus to housing construction remained unrealized due to the economic and political crisis that began in 1929 and has almost been forgotten today, especially since it does not fit into the usual Bauhaus cliché. It is not made of glass, steel, and concrete, but of simple wooden construction, inexpensive, ecological, and expandable. Almost 500 such single-family houses in three different building types were to complement the balcony-access houses built under Hannes Meyer, and thus create a mixed development that specifically addressed the heterogeneous housing needs of the different population groups with different types of flats.

More than 80 years after the planning, architectural students from the University of Kassel realized a prototype of this forgotten design with a self-build method in order to bring this innovation, which remains topical, back into public discourse today. It also does not only correct a one-sided picture of the Bauhaus, but gives an impulse to today’s housing debate. At the same time, it is a kind of reenactment, reminiscent of the pedagogical innovations of the Bauhaus, for the designs and buildings of the Bauhaus under Hannes Meyer were also designed and (co-)built by students.

After a three-week construction phase, the prototype building was opened in Dessau-Törten on August 11. The building will be open for non-commercial uses by the citizens of Dessau and can be visited each Sunday during summer season (April–September) between 12pm and 4am.

Philipp Oswalt will present the project as part of the “Bauhaus and the City” colloquium at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on Tuesday, October 29, 2019. In October 2019, Spector Books will publish the book Hannes Meyer’s New Bauhaus Pedagogy, edited by Philipp Oswalt, which among other subjects will present how Hilberseimer developed his idea of a mixed housing development. This heavily influenced Mies van der Rohe’s housing concepts in the 1930s, and resulted in a common project with Hilberseimer in 1956: Lafayette Park Detroit. The Kollektivplan for Berlin by Hans Scharoun and many other projects was widely based on these ideas.

“Bauhaus Builds! The Growing House” is a project of the University of Kassel (chair for architectural theory and design—Prof. Philipp Oswalt) in cooperation with Constructlab, Hochschule Anhalt, Werkbund Sachsen-Anhalt, and Wilkhahn.

For further information:
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University of Kassel
August 16, 2019

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