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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Influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on younger generation architects

A research on the Influence of Frank Lloyd’s Influence on younger generation architects. This was also a part of a class presentation for History of Modern Architecture class. The pattern followed is a brief description of an architect and then the influence on Frank Lloyd Wright on him. Do go through the slideshow at the end.

Influence on Dutch Architects

  • Hendrik Petrus Berlage
  • Gerrit Rietveld
  • Robert van ‘t Hoff

Hendrik Petrus Berlage:

  • Born in Amsterdam in 1856
  • Considered the “Father of Modern architecture” in the Netherlands
  • The intermediary between the Traditionalists and the Modernists
  • Berlage’s theories inspired most Dutch architectural groups of the 1920s, including the Traditionalists, the Amsterdam School, De Stijl and the New Objectivists.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on Berlage:

  • A visit Berlage made to the U.S. in 1911 greatly affected his architecture.
  • From then on the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright would be a significant influence.
  • Lectures he gave when returned to Europe would help to disseminate Wright’s thoughts in Germany.
  • 1913 Den Haag (ZH) .Influences of Wright’s work are present in the design of this house in the form of the projecting roofs.
  • 1927-1935 Den Haag (ZH): Municipal Museum. In the style of Frank Lloyd Wright

Gerrit Rietveld

  • A Dutch furniture designer and architect.
  • One of the principal members of the Dutch artistic movement called De Stijl
  • Strongly influenced by Charles Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Gerrit Rietveld:

  • Rietveld Schröder House. His love for basic geometry was greatly influenced by Wright. Other influences in this specific case include:
    •Cantiliver
    •Breaking the box
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on De Stijl:
  • The social and economic circumstances of the time formed an important source of inspiration for their theories, and their ideas about architecture were heavily influenced by Berlage and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Robert van ‘t Hoff and Frank Lloyd Wright:
  • In 1913 van ‘t Hoff was given a copy of a German translation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wasmuth Portfolio by his father.
  • This made a profound impression and in June 1914 he travelled to the United States to see Wright’s work in person, visiting the Unity Temple, Taliesin, Midway Gardens, the Larkin Administration Building and Wright’s suburban houses in Oak Park, Illinois.
  • Van ‘t Hoff and Wright discussed collaborating on a project for an art gallery on Long Island, New York that van ‘t Hoff had become involved with through his relationship with Augustus John, but the project did not progress and van ‘t Hoff returned to Europe.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Van’t Hoff:
  • Van ‘t Hoff’s first work on returning from the United States was the Villa Verloop – a summer house in Huis ter Heide whose design bore the unmistakable influence of Wright’s Prairie Houses.
  • The Villa Henny:It was a highly idealistic and experimental house in both design and execution.One of the earliest houses to be built entirely out of reinforced concrete.
  • The Villa Henny made full use of the aesthetic freedom this presented with a flat roof, overhangs, receding walls and a highly geometrical outline that presented an unambiguously modern profile compared to the rustic naturalism of his earlier designs.

Willem Marinus Dudok:

  • Willem Dudok was born in Amsterdam in 1884
  • Dudok’s early style grew out of the Amsterdam School
  • List of major buildings / works:Public Baths, Hilversum, 1921, Abattoir, Hilversum, 1923, Dutch Hostel, Paris,1926-38, Town Hall, Hilversum, 1928-30, Bilenkauf Store,Rotterdam,1928-30, Vondel School, Hilversum, 1929.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Dudok:

  • Dudok borrowed extensively from Frank Lloyd Wright and the American Prairie School. He utilized the brick architecture and the dramatic asymmetrical massing of geometrical forms common to this style.
  • The overhanging eaves and other elements of his landmark City Hall were clearly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright

Mies Van Der Rohe:

  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, along with Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of Modern architecture.
  • He created an influential 20th century architectural style, stated with extreme clarity and simplicity.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Van Der Rohe:

  • After 1923, Mies’s style shifted, and he came heavily under the influence of Dutch neo-plasticism and Russian suprematism.
  • The former influence, along with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, drove Mies to experiment with independent walls and ceilings arranged in an open, pin-wheeling manner.
  • The latter influence drove Mies to consider the reduction and abstraction of these elements into dynamic and contrapuntal compositions of pure shapes in space.
  • Mies was enthralled with the free-flowing spaces of inter-connected rooms which encompass their outdoor surroundings as demonstrated by the open floor plans of the American Prairie Style work of Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • These experiments culminated in one of Mies van der Rohe’s most significant works, the German Pavilion built for the Barcelona World Exposition in 1929.

Walter Gropius:

  • A German architect
  • Founder of the Bauhaus School
  • Along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Influence on Gropius

  • The plan of the Cologne building was axially designed in the Beaux-Arts tradition, but the major influence was predominantly that of Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Gropius and Meyer were influenced by Wright’s style especially in the horizontality and the wide overhanging eaves, but also in the symmetry, the corner pavilions, and the whole spirit of Wright’s concept.

Le Corbusier:

  • Swiss-French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and also painter, who is famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called Modern architecture or the International style.
  • He was a pioneer in studies of modern high design and was dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities.

Influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on Corbusier:

  • The plan and interiors of the Schwob house in Switzerland closely resemble that of Frank Lloyd Wright. Le Corbusier’s notion of Free plan was greatly influenced by Wright.
Conclusion:

The salient features of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Design that inspired the architects to follow include:

  • His structural systems
  • Horizontality
  • Cantilevers
  • Breaking the box
  • Furniture designs
  • Fluidity of spaces
  • And last but not the least “Organic architecture”

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The Impact of Bauhaus

A research work for a presentation in History of Modern Architecture class.

What is Bauhaus?

  • A school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught.
  • It operated from 1919 to 1933.
  • Founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar
  • Has become one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design.
The main influences behind the Bauhaus:
  • Modernism
  • The English Arts and Crafts movement
  • Constructivism
Ideals of the Bauhaus movement:
  • Absence of ornamentation.
  • Harmony between the function of an object or a building and its design.
  • Integration of art and mass production
  • Inexpensive building.
  • Unity of form and function
  • The idea that design is in service of the community
  • A belief in the pearfection and efficiency of geometry.

The Impact of Bauhaus:

The White City(Tel Aviv):

  • Refers to a collection of over 4,000 Bauhaus style buildings built in Tel Aviv from the 1930s by German Jewish architects who immigrated to Palestine after the rise of the Nazis.
  • Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in this style of any city in the world.
  • An UNESCO world heritage site
  • The Engel House in the White City of Tel Aviv. Architect: Zeev Rechter, 1933. A residential building that has become one of the symbols of Modernist architecture. The first building in Tel Aviv to be built on pilotis.
  • Major Architects:Arieh Sharon, Ze’ev Rechter, Joseph Neufeld, Dov Carmi, Benjamin Chlenov, Carl Rubin, Shmuel

Key aspects of Design in Tel Aviv:

  • The depicted sense of “togetherness” and collectivity was well anchored in the climate of the Jewish community (Yishuv) in Israel at the time.
  • The needs of the “public” or “collective” as a whole were more important than the “individual”‘s uniqueness.
  • An “intermediate space” was created between public street life and residents’ private lives.
  • In Tel Aviv most roofs were indeed intended for tenants’ use, yet instead of gardening, communal laundry rooms were constructed.

Impact on  Architecture in the rest of the world:

  • After the patrons had left Germany due to political reasons they took the Bauhaus movement to USA, Canada & Israel and the rest of Western Europe.
  • When Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer fled Germany, they both arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, in an excellent position to extend their influence and promote the Bauhaus as the primary source of architectural modernism.
  • When Mies fled in 1936, he came to Chicago.

Chicago:

  • The city’s skyline was decisively influenced by the theories of the Bauhaus.
  • The abundance of connections between German and American architecture in Chicago provides rich grounds for exploration and research.
  • Architects involved: László Moholy Nagy,Helmut Jahn

Students of Gropius who later propagated the ideas of Bauhaus:

  • Philip Johnson
  • I.M. Pei
  • Lawrence Halprin
  • Paul Rudolph

Conclusion:

  • The impact of Bauhaus was not limited to Germany but spread around the world because of the patrons travelling to various nations.
  • The patrons turned Professors further spread the movement
  • The international style is simply another name for the Bauhaus style

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