Although the movement’s influence spread across Germany in the 1920s, “You could say that we invented the Bauhaus,” argues Nils Büttner, a professor at Stuttgart’s State Academy of Fine Arts. Baden-Württemberg’s capital established itself as one of Europe’s centres for modern art and architecture a century ago; with celebrations for the Bauhaus 100th birthday under way, everyone is invited to SouthWest Germany’s party.
Stuttgart: The shock of the new
One of the most vivid examples of Modernist architecture is on a hillside in Stuttgart: the Weissenhof Estate. Built for an international exhibition in 1927,
22 of the original 33 houses still stand; several are still homes. Houses designed by Mies van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun still look contemporary today. Two of Le Corbusier’s houses are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One, the Weissenhof Museum, recalls the original look with its furniture and colour scheme. https://www.stuttgart.de/weissenhof/
Karlsruhe and Bad Urach: Hidden jewels
Less well-known but equally significant is the Dammerstock Estate in Karlsruhe, 90 minutes west of Stuttgart. It was designed as affordable housing by Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius in 1929. Learn more on a walking tour; then eat at the Bauhaus-designed Erasmus restaurant, which follows the principles of slow food. Near Bad Urach, an hour southeast of Stuttgart, is the impressive Haus auf der Alb. Built as a retirement home by Stuttgart architect Adolf Schneck in 1929-30, this is now a conference centre, offering accommodation and tours for attendees.
Ulm: Carrying the torch
The Bauhaus philosophy survived from 1953 to 1968 at the Ulm School of Design. The HfG (as it is known) is rated second only to the Bauhaus for innovative thinking; Max Bill’s striking design is one of Germany’s most exciting Post-War buildings. Now, one former School of Design building houses the HfG Archive Ulm. Its permanent exhibition of design classics that were created here is called: “Ulm School of Design – From Zero Hour to 1968”. http://www.hfg-ulm.de
Friedrichshafen and Meersburg: Insider’s Tips
In Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance, the restaurant at the Zeppelin Museum was originally a 1930s, Bauhaus-inspired railway station. In Meersburg, also on Lake Constance, Hermann Blomeier’s former waiting room for ferry passengers is now a chic and sun-drenched café bistro.
Stuttgart, Baden-Baden, Weil am Rhein and Mannheim
SouthWest Germany’s museums reflect Bauhaus connections. In Stuttgart’s Staatsgalerie are figurines designed for Oskar Schlemmer's avant-garde Triadic Ballet. In the city’s Kunstmuseum, Otto Dix's famous triptych painting contrasts the glamorous nightlife of the "Roaring Twenties" with crippled victims of World War One. Contemporary museum architecture continues the innovative tradition: Frank Gehry's Vitra Museum in Weil am Rhein, near the Swiss border; Richard Meier's Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden; the 2017 extension to Mannheim’s Kunsthalle. And this year, many museums have special Bauhaus anniversary exhibitions. https://www.staatsgalerie.de/en.html