A Pean to its Founders in Weimar

 

New Bauhaus Museum Commemorates an Anniversary

 


2012 COMPETITIONS Annual with Weimar Bauhaus Competition WInner Design  Image: ©Heike Hanada

As projected, the Weimar Bauhaus Museum, one of two new Bauhaus museums scheduled to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in Germany, has opened its doors in Weimar. The new Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, also the product of a competition, is to open in September of this year.

Before my visit to the Weimar museum, opinions about the museum’s design had appeared in various German publications, i.e., Süddeutsche Zeitung, Berliner Tagesspiegel, etc.—one in particular not very flattering. So my arrival in Weimar was filled with much anticipation, especially since we had covered the original competition in some detail in the 2012 COMPETITIONS Annual (above).

 


Front view of museum from city parcel  Photo: ©Stanley Collyer

 

What was initially absent from the competition proposal by the project’s author and competition winner, Heike Hanada, was a water feature leading from the street toward the entrance. The basin was not intended simply as an incidental landscape feature, but an integral design feature, focusing the attention from the street toward the museum. Instead one finds paving, the victim of a decision by the client, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, to split the site and stage an additional competition for the new parcel—and not extending an invitation to a member of the winning Hanada team to compete. The resulting design by the winner of the second competiiton, Vogt Landscape Architect of Zürich, completely ignored the Hanada design, instead covering the parcel at the street almost completely with light stone paving and a curious depression. The result? Attention from the street was no longer diverted away from the neighboring Nazi era, Mussolini style neighbor while focusing on the main event, but totally disrupting the harmonious scheme as envisioned by the winning entry. In no way did it suggest an extension of the landscape from the building to the street as an integral design element.


Arrival view from street with construction barricades still in place  Photo: ©Stanley Collyer

 

 
View to cafe patio (left); Exhibit item, “Der Mensch als Industrie Palast/Fritz Kahn (right) Photos: ©Stanley Collyer


Building view from west  Photo: ©Stanley Collyer

 

Upon entering the building’s large atrium, it was anything but uninviting, as one might have imagined from one of the critics, but a very pleasing introduction to that which was yet to come. If you didn’t use the elevator, the journey continues as you ascended via a long stair to the second level exhibit area. And here is where the real story is told: this was a very well conceived arrangement of items from the early Bauhaus era, a mixture of architecture and art that was exhibited in such an extraordinary manner as to whet the appetite for more. It was in many respects a very concise examination of the period, but leads one to spend more time than anticipated with the collection—a curatorial masterpiece in getting the message out. Moreover, the curators were not tempted to turn the exhibition into a preachy moment, as some Bauhaus exhibitors might have done, but let the objects on display speak for themselves.

 

 

 
Entrance view (left) Photo: ©Stanley Collyer View from second level to atrium and entrance(right) Photo:©Andrew Alberts


Reception and ticketing Photo: ©Andrew Alberts


Reading area with view to the outside Photo: ©Andrew Alberts  Furniture by Heike and Lilli Hanada

 

 

 
Interior exhibition areas Photos: ©Andrew Alberts

The exhibition areas are not only interesting for the wealth of information they provide, but the manner in which they are arranged, with lots of light and openings to levels above and below, which allow visitors to gaze into other areas of the museum, some which they may have recently experienced. This play of views leads one to recall a similar strategy employed by Frank Gehry in the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.

 

 


Night view Photo: ©Andrew Alberts

 

 As is often the case, this project was typical in that value engineering results in changes. In the words of the architect:

“To (stay within budget) we had to eliminate several items:
– surface of the wall was originally planned with loam rendering;
– Toplights above the long staircase and above the last void inside the exhibition.
Other things like the steel-doors etc. I could push through. 
Also we had finally to cut off the glass panels of the facade. But I was rather happy with that.
The 1:1 mock up of the glass panels was not convincing at all and we finally all agreed to leave it away. The only problem was, that the final decision of the government was taken in December 2018.
This had the effect, that we had to plan and realize a concrete facade, which could still work also for a glass facade. That made it extremely complicated. And one can see it, when you look at the joints between the concrete slabs. 
However I am happy with the monolithic concrete facade.”

 

To conclude the tour, a visit to the café at the lower level reveals an extensive view to the park—an appropriate conclusion to a to a very stimulating visual experience. The absence of the proposed water feature in front was a major disappointment on the outside; but the overall experience was certainly positive in every respect.

 


View to park from cafe patio Photo: ©Stanley Collyer