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:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.