BAUHAUS MUSEUM DESSAU
LOCATION / DESSAU, GERMANY
PROJECT TYPE / INSTITUTIONAL
“Die Baukunst soll ein Spiegel des Lebens und der Zeit sein” / “Architecture should be a mirror of life and time” Walter Gropius
The new Bauhaus Museum offers the opportunity to “dissolve the difference between high and popular culture”. The museum should democratize design, not only through the exhibition content but also in the form and siting of the building itself. While the interior provides a controlled environment for exhibit and educational spaces, the exterior provides a new public space for the city and the existing park.
By locating the new museum at the corner of the Stadtpark, we literally want to reinforce the idea that culture, recreation and commerce are linked: a core Bauhaus idea. The cylindrical form offers frontality in all directions; an urban scale acknowledgement of the park setting and the public nature of the museum. Cutouts provide local differentiation acknowledging the characteristics of the program and specific site conditions. The cutouts also pull away from the cylindrical shape at the intersection of the object and the site in order to connect and shape the landscape and the building. The skin mediates between interior and exterior and shapes both realms.
Exhibit spaces are located on the second floor. The other program spaces (such as the entry, education and commercial spaces) are located on the ground floor. Two openings cut into the exterior skin reveal the interior structure and spaces in an open and inviting gesture to the city: ground spaces open to the street and the exhibit and urban living room open to the park. This organization allows an open and inviting gesture to the city while and while also generally shielding the exhibit areas from daylight.
The interior of the building is defined by a parallel series of walls which also provide the main structural support. These walls are rotated at 45 degrees from the direction of the street to maximize the park corner location. The main entry axis cuts through these walls creating a void that visually and physically connects the institution to the park. This protected space links the park, the museum entry and the city, articulating a clear relation between culture and recreation.
Supporting spaces such as the café, the shop, the group entry, the workshop and the events space all occupy the voids between the walls. These voids define a cross axis, visually and physically linking these spaces to each other and the city. These spaces are accessed from the museum interior and from the two streets (FriedrichstraBe and KavalierstraBe) providing flexibility in programing and hours of operation. Each space has separate “storefronts” that link directly to the street and are distinct from the museum entry.
The main Gallery spaces are located on the second floor overlooking the park. The structural gallery walls define the volumes for the “topos” of the permanent exhibit while the void cut perpendicular to these walls defines the temporary exhibit space. It is the exhibit floor’s equivalent of the “living room below. The curved exterior wall envelops these exhibit spaces providing archival protection and a continuous 140 meter long display surface. The possibility of this long continuous narrative or time line is a feature that can be used to enrich the exhibit program.
The second floor exhibit space is entered on the south-west side, facing the park. This façade opens to the park visually and physically. Relating the exhibits and ground floor spaces to this context actualizes the exhibit concept of “local networking” while the idea of “contextualization in the international arena” is developed in the protected spaces.
Our proposal strives to minimize changes to the existing park (for both economic and environmental efficiency) while seeking to maximize and improve the use of the existing landscape and park infrastructure. The exterior landscape is integrated into the building so that the park becomes an extension of the museum. This is achieved with the strong entry axis that connects the park and the museum to the city at the corner of FriedrichstraBe and KavalierstraBe. The circular second floor overhangs the orthogonal ground floor enclosure to provide covered entries for the education spaces, the office, the shop and the group entrance. The café has covered and open outdoor seating off of the sidewalk. The building skin peels away from the cylindrical form at the ground to extend the paved outdoor areas and provide a bench between the sidewalk and the park.
The earth is sculpted to create a natural open amphitheater on the park side of the museum. Sloping to face the Aktionsfeld and Alberto-Adriano Gedenlstele, the amphitheater faces south-west to maximize enjoyment of sunny weather. Moving toward the museum, this slope provides access to the museum at an elevated level, between the ground floor entry and the exhibit level. The ground under the roof overhang steps down into the museum to create a covered exterior amphitheater. It is a public extension of the park that can also be used as an outdoor extension for the museum for presentations, movies, concerts or other events.
The entry loading areas are only used for deliveries at very specific times. By creating a hardscape zone for the loading area that is also an extension of the park pavers and landscape, we maximize the utility of this floor area for the public and the institution.