New Bauhaus Museum Dessau by Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

Place: Dessau-Roßlau, Country: Germany
Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau
Gonzalez Hinz Zabala, Barcelona
in collaboration with BAM, Berlin
Landscape architect: Roser Vives de Delas
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
Images courtesy of Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Gonzalez Hinz Zabala


Bauhaus Museum Dessau  © Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

The new Bauhaus Museum Dessau by Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

The name “Bauhaus” is among the most renowned and beloved by architects and art enthusiasts from all over the world, as well as one of the few non-English architectural terms whose fame transcends the restrict circle of architects and designers.

The history of the Staatliches Bauhaus school of architecture, art, craft, and design is strongly connected with those of his founder, Walter Gropius, and of the many seminal figures who taught and studied in its first home, established in Weimar in 1919, and, from 1925 to 1932, in a new building created in Dessau – a city in the region Saxony-Anhalt – before the school moved to Berlin for only one year in 1933.
Gropius himself designed the new building of the Dessau school, which was inaugurated in 1926, and was closed only six years later by the Nazi authorities.

Bauhaus Dessau Building Gropius

The Bauhaus Dessau building by Walter Gropius

Restored in the 1970s, since 1996 the school building is a Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site, together with the semi-detached houses designed by Gropius for the Bauhaus teachers.
In 1994 Gropius’ school building was converted into the home of the newly-constituted Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, an institution devoted to the preservation of the heritage of the Bauhaus as well as to promote research and innovation in contemporary design, architecture, and visual arts.
Yet, the school building is largely inappropriate as an exhibition space, and the Foundation devised to use it as it was originally intended, that is as an educational center and an archive, and to move the exhibitions, many of which are based on the 40,000-piece collection of the foundation, into a brand new building and to establish the new Bauhaus Museum Dessau.

To find the ideal design for the new museum building, a competition, which 831 teams entered, was organized in 2015; at the end of the competition process, thirty finalists were selected, and the commission to design the Bauhaus museum Dessau eventually went to the young Barcelona-based architectural office Gonzalez Hinz Zabala.


Bauhaus Museum Dessau site plan



Bauhaus Museum Dessau  © Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

The two-story building proposed by the Spanish architects is rather simple in its concept.
The museum is constituted by a transparent parallelepiped inside which a black box, housing the exhibition galleries and supported by two stair-case blocks in bridge-like structural configuration, seems to float free.
This solution leaves the ground floor as free as possible to house temporary exhibitions, special events, and workshops, as well as to provide flexible spaces for the museum lobby and various visitor services. Between the two main levels, a small mezzanine provides additional meeting space.
At the ground level, the floor texture, which recalls the idea of a lawn, visually expands the surrounding park into the building, thus emphasizing its permeability and integration with the landscape.


Bauhaus Museum Dessau floor plans

Bauhaus Museum Dessau cross sections


Bauhaus Museum Dessau,  © Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

The building is inspired by the rationalist style of the school designed by Gropius as well as by the famous aphorism commonly attributed to another famous Bauhaus Dessau director: Mies Van der Rohe. (*)

“The new Bauhaus Museum Dessau links an iconographic heritage “Less is More” with a manifesto of contemporary culture “The Age of Less” (Gonzalez Hinz Zabala)

Flexibility, use of natural light and rational use of space and resources are among the key features of the 25.5-million Euros project, which is scheduled for completion in 2019, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Staatliches Bauhaus.




Bauhaus Museum Dessau  © Gonzalez Hinz Zabala

(*) Actually, the motto “less is more” was presumably coined by Peter Behrens in the early 1900s (see Detlef Mertins (2014), Mies, Phaidon, London)

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