Walter Adolph Gropius – The Gropius house and The Bauhaus

Introduction:

  • Born in Berlin on May 18, 1883 as the third son of building advisor to the government with the same name, and Manon Auguste Pauline.
  • Studied in the Colleges of Technology at Berlin and Munich till 1907.
  • Later, worked under the German architect Peter Behrens from 1907 – 10.
  • Formed a partnership with Adolf Meyer in 1910.
  • Established the world-famous Bauhaus School of Architecture in 1919 in Weimar, Germany.
  • Served as the director of the Bauhaus from 1919 – 28.
  • He later moved to America and founded The Architects’ Collaborative (TAC) in 1945 in Cambridge.

The Bauhaus School:

  • Literally means “house for building”.
  • Founded at Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919.
  • Moved to Dessau in 1924 due to economic considerations.
  • Forced to move to Berlin in September 1932 by the Nazis.
  • During its brief span of existence (1919-1933), the Bauhaus School of Design had 3 directors, Gropius (1919-1928), Hannes Meyer (1928-1930) and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1930-33).
  • During the directorship of Walter Gropius, the work was mainly in his office, while the building department, headed by Hannes Meyer, enabled an independent training in architecture based on the requirements of the users.
  • The buildings of Gropius and Meyer were, in many ways, ‘Bauhaus buildings’. He regularly let students work on the commissions in his office and always tried to sell products and services from the Bauhaus workshops to his clients.

The Gropius House, Lincoln, Massachusetts, 1938:

Components:

The Master Bedroom Suite:

  • A glass wall separates dressing room from sleeping area creating the illusion of a larger space. The wall separates two heating zones allowing one to sleep in a cold environment but dress in a warmer one.

The Guest Bedroom

  • It was used it as a sitting room when there were no guests, and in the winter, Ise (his wife) took advantage of the southern exposure and used it as a greenhouse.

Ati’s Bedroom

  • It includes a walnut and birch desk designed by Walter Gropius and made in the Bauhaus carpentry workshop in 1922. Paired with the desk is a tubular steel and cane chair designed by Breuer during the years of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1928.

Ground Floor Hallway

  • The curved staircase faces away from the entry, signifying the upstairs as private space.
  • Gropius used glass blocks and a floor to ceiling window to transmit natural light to this area.

The Dining Room:

  • The dining table and chairs were also made in the Bauhaus workshops under the direction of Marcel Breuer. The chrome and canvas chairs are paired with a Formica dining table designed in 1925.

The Living Room

  • Gropius maximized space along the north wall with bookshelves and storage cabinets. Large windows frame the landscape and expand the interior spaces.

The Study

  • Gropius designed the study to accommodate the double desk that fits perfectly under the north facing window.
  • The study acts as a passageway into the living room.

Impact of Gropius House:

  • Modest in scale, revolutionary in impact.
  • Combined the traditional elements of New England architecture — wood, brick, and fieldstone — with innovative materials rarely used in domestic settings at that time — glass block, acoustical plaster, and chrome banisters, along with the latest technology in fixtures.
  • The family home became a showcase for Bauhaus design and philosophy.
  • Ise Gropius bequeathed the house to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA) in 1984 to continue the tradition of teaching the principles of the Bauhaus Movement.

The Bauhaus, Dessau, Germany, 1925-26.:

Features:

  • The primary structural material is steel reinforced concrete.
  • Window facades are designed as hanging (non-structural) walls.
  • The Wassily Chair designed by Marcel Breuer

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