In 1925, the city of Dessau commissioned Walter Gropius with the construction of three semidetached houses for the Bauhaus masters and a detached house for its director. The plot lies in a small pine-tree wood where Ebertallee stands today – one of the axes of the Dessau Wörlitz Garden Realm between the Seven Pillars of the Georgium and Amaliensitz. In 1926, Gropius and the Bauhaus masters László Moholy-Nagy and Lyonel Feininger, Georg Muche and Oskar Schlemmer as well as Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee were able to move in with their families.
With this ensemble of buildings, Gropius aimed, using industrially prefabricated and simple “building block” construction elements, to put the principles of efficient construction into practice – both in relation to the architecture and the building process itself. The standardisation of construction elements was, however, in view of the technical resources available at the time, only partially realised.
The houses acquired their form through interleaved cubic corpora of different heights. Vertical rows of windows on the side façades provide lighting for the stairways, while the view of the semidetached houses from the street is characterised by the large glass windows of the studios. The façade of the Director’s House was the only one to feature asymmetrically arranged windows. The sides facing away from the street have generous terraces and balconies. The houses are painted in light tones and the window frames, the undersides of balconies and down pipes in stronger colours.
The semidetached houses are essentially all the same: Each half of the house shares the same floor plan, albeit mirrored and rotated by 90°. Only on the second floor do the halves of the houses differ – the western section always features two additional rooms.
All the houses were equipped with modern furniture, and fitted cupboards were integrated between the kitchen service area and the dining room and between the bedroom and the studio. While Gropius and Moholy-Nagy fitted their houses exclusively with furniture by Marcel Breuer, the other masters brought their own furniture with them. The artists also developed their own ideas with respect to the arrangement of colour, which, with Klee and Kandinsky, for example, was closely related to their own artistic work.
In 1932, the Trinkhalle (refreshment kiosk) was built at the easternmost point of the estate. This small building was the only design by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to be realised in Dessau. It was demolished in 1970, and a pavement inlay today marks the site where the building once stood.
Following the closure of the Bauhaus in 1932, the houses were otherwise let. During the war, the Director’s House was almost completely destroyed; only the basement block remained. Both the garage and the Moholy-Nagy House were completely demolished. In 1956, a detached house with a gable roof was built on the foundations of the Director’s House. Apparently, the building’s owner was denied permission to reconstruct the original, although the reasons for this remain unclear. Comprehensive renovation work on the preserved Masters’ Houses started in 1992. The Kandinsky/Klee House is particularly fascinating because of its interior colour design.
The Masters' Houses and the Bauhaus building are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of their unique cultural heritage there had been a world wide interest in the buildings designed by Walter Gropius.References:
Ängsö Castle was first named as "Engsev" in a royal charter by king Canute I of Sweden (r. 1167-1196), in which he stated that he had inherited the property after his father Eric IX of Sweden. Until 1272, it was owned by the Riseberga Abbey, and then taken over by Gregers Birgersson.
From 1475 until 1710, it was owned by the Sparre family. The current castle was built as a fortress by riksråd Bengt Fadersson Sparre in the 1480s. In 1522, Ängsö Castle was taken after a siege by king Gustav Vasa, since its owner, Fadersson's son Knut Bengtsson, sided with Christian II of Denmark. However, in 1538 it was given by the king to Bengtsson's daughter Hillevi Knutsdotter, who was married to Arvid Trolle.
In 1710, the castle was taken over by Carl Piper and Christina Piper. Ängsö Castle was owned by the Piper family from 1710 until 1971, and is now owned by the Westmanna foundation. The castle building itself was made into a museum in 1959 and was made a listed building in 1965. It is currently opened to visitors during the summers.
The castle is a cubical building in four stores made by stone and bricks. The lower parts is preserved from the middle ages. It was redecorated and expanded in the 1630s. The 4th storey as well as the roof is from the expansion of Carl Hårleman from 1740-41. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s.