Friday, 16 August 2013
It might have been a very good idea to stay in the old factory in Leipzig (see The Shock of the Old below) before we visited the Bauhaus. That buildings bridges for conveyors and people between buildings, it's departments, it's big windows and austere construction all come back when you consider Walter Gropius' jazzed up version of 1926. There is much more to it than meets the eye. Gropius invented the road, he invented the bridge over it, he mannered it to look like civil engineering, he kept an austere language of construction, he put the students in a factory, he even placed his office above that road and the tiny architectural studio above that- architects as masters of the pin-wheel universe. This building abounds in metaphor but doesn't look it. However, the more you do look at it the more it's subtlety becomes clear. Gropius didn't just skin up this building, the outer foot of construction is consistently mannered, sometimes proud of the surface plane, sometimes recessed, and always displaying real care in how something is made. The plan itself is a formal masterpiece, everything is where it should be pragmatically; there are no jolts or discontinuities, and as a free standing composition it is awesomely well proportioned. Love it, just love it, a really beautiful modern building.