Updated: Nov 3, 2022
There have been a lot of influential movements throughout history, but this blog is about one art movement in particular – The Bauhaus movement. At the time this style was so different that it was shunned by the major political influences of the time, but it is now one of the main influencers of modern design in architecture.
This movement was only around for 14 years or so, from 1919 to 1933, but it has left such a lasting impression. It brought about the idea of using simple shapes like rectangles, triangles and circles in building design, which is what much of modern architecture today consists of.
Bauhaus got its name from the school that taught the style, which was founded by Walter Gropius in Welmar. The term ‘Bauhaus’ is German for ‘house for building’ and its influence has clearly transpired to architectural design, although the school did not have a department specially dedicated to architecture.
A distinctive feature of this movement was the fact that they insisted on using only primary colours (red, yellow and blue, but black and white were also allowed within the pieces). This simple colour palette, together with the simple geometric shapes led to a distinct idea of what the Bauhaus movement should be perceived as.
In most modern architecture, there are two distinct options which an architect can choose when designing a scheme for a client:
They can play it safe and basically copy a modern building which already exists.OR
Apply the general principles of Bauhaus to a brand new design by using simple shapes and unusual angles.
Anyone who was designing with Bauhaus in mind would have had to embrace the views of trying to embrace new technological developments which unified art, craft and technology. The Bauhaus movement was primarily characterised by its simplistic take on design, and its economic sensibility and focus on mass production.
This movement, as with anything which has a lot of influence on society, was not accepted by everyone.
It was always under scrutiny by the Nazi movement which preferred classicism over modernism. They criticised the Bauhaus style because they didn’t agree with the modernistic styles, they even went as far as to labelling it ‘un-German’ and call it a front for communists, Russians and social liberals.
A lot of design movements look more and more outdated as the years go on, but the Bauhaus philosophy lives on, having a constant influence on modern design. Major cities still use this 94 year old theory when designing new buildings, that theory being ‘form follows function’, including white walls, clean lines and glass.
Gropius had a clear vision, which was to ‘bridge the gap’ between art and industry by combining crafts and fine art. Before the Bauhaus movement, fine arts such as architecture and design were held in higher esteem than craftsmanship, but Gropius’ movement asserted that all crafts including art, architecture and geometric design could be brought together and mass produced. Gropius argued that architecture and design should reflect the new period in history and adapt to the era of the machine.
Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.