The Bauhaus was an art school and movement founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. The name was taken from the German language literally meaning the “house of construction,” but it can also be translated as the School of Building. According to The Art Story, the motivations behind the creation of the Bauhaus lay in the 19th century, in anxieties about the soullessness of manufacturing and its products, and in fears about art’s loss of purpose in society. Creativity and manufacturing were drifting apart, and the Bauhaus aimed to unite them once again, rejuvenating design for everyday life.
A few of the key factors in Bauhaus focuses on craft and simplicity. The design, art, or architectural building was created by the harmony of function. The main objective of the curriculum in Bauhaus was to unify technology, crafts, and art.
During the first World War, the Nazi government claimed that Bauhaus was ‘un-German’ and it was a center of communist intellectualism. The decline and closing of the school then began from the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s when the founding Director, Walter Gropius, drove out of Nazi Germany. In 1953, a physical extension of Bauhaus, the Ulm School of Design, was founded by Max Bill and two other founders.
So what’s the relation of Bauhaus to the School of Architecture and Design? Its founders and its pedagogical structure.
Max Bill, the founder of the Ulm School of Design, and Charles Burchard, the founding dean of CAUS, both studied under Walter Gropius. Olivio Ferrari, a former architecture professor from our school, studied under Max Bill at The Ulm School. Ferrari was then invited by Burchard to teach at Virginia Tech. Right after being invited, Ferrari then brought a few his past students(Harold Hill, Tom Reagan, Gene Eggor, and Bill Brown) to become professors at Virginia Tech. These individuals passed along the learning styles of Bauhaus which influenced the way we learn to this day.
The curriculum of Bauhaus has been implemented in the way we learn in studio today. Each year, we study different topics that lead to building and creating design in itself. In our current lab, we are studying form and a wide variety of materials such as wood, metal, and clay. Our lab and modules can also represent as our study of construction and representation.
According to a paper written by Martha Sullivan and Mitzi Vernon, the school has “reshaped the curriculum to address the qualitative nature of form-giving, while building on the existing ‘Bauhausian’ workshops within our School. This pedagogical paradigm focuses our studio on “search” rather than “solution” through making.”
So what is the importance of this post?
I knew very little about the history of our school and knowing the fact that we are still practicing what has been since the start makes the School of Architecture and Design more special. Having this title makes me feel proud that I am a part of this college.
Here is video of Marcus James Brown, an alumn, telling the history of the Bauhaus pedagogy:
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