BAUHAUS MUSEUM DESSAU
DESSAU, GERMANY

How to architecturally celebrate a school and a movement that has already shaped the existing language of architecture? And how to create a celebratory building that will not compete with the masterpiece that it is set to celebrate? And, more importantly, how to create a building that maintains the progressive nature of the modern movement in harmony with the old city center buildings like the Hauptpost?

The proposed building uses the quality of the Bauhaus spaces and the honest tectonic expression of the original building as a thread to connect the new museum to its reference. It proposes white plastered walls to capture the essence of light and geometry and it uses crafted detailing to become the tectonic expression of the building components; curtain walls, HVAC systems, railings and the interior fit-out.

These two themes; the texture of space and the crafted tectonic, will become threads that not only connect the museum to the original building but also bring back some of the existing qualities of the building that were slightly overshadowed by the very ideals that the modernist movement is known for; mass production and abstraction. It is imperative to note that the Bauhaus walls were never just white, they expressed texture and the curtain walls were not just transparent they expressed the beautifully crafted quality of its assembly. The building had a soul beyond the ideals it promoted and this proposal is an effort to capture that essence.

A conceptual project, the Bauhaus Museum central idea revolves around “Six Rooms”, merging on the edge of a park. Each room houses one of the programs that once formed the Bauhaus, calling for autonomy yet playing a part in a cohesive whole. The delicate balance between autonomy and participation becomes a narrative for one of the most interdisciplinary institution of the past century: The Bauhaus, where art, design, craft, culture and politics formed a force field of modernism. The gathering of the rooms also presents a programmatic framework for the function of The Bauhaus Museum Dessau and its curatorial concept.

The Urban Role: The project addresses the everyday life of the museum on the ground and the exhibition floors as well as on the permanent exhibition level above. The arrangements of the rooms on the ground perform multiple urban requirements and conditions that the Museum building has to address. From forming an urban edge for the Kavalierstraße to acting as a gateway to the park for an everyday passage from Antoinettenstraße to Ratsgasse and to create local fragments of outdoor gathering and exhibitions around its perimeter.

Visitor Experience at the Entrance: Visitors can access the building both from the grand entry on Kavalierstraße or the walkway from the park. The ground floor of the building is dedicated to vibrant activities and the upper levels to the permanent exhibitions. The deep recessed entry on Kavalierstraße and the narrow and tall entry on the park will bring the visitors to the entry hall.

Temporary Exhibition Space: The temporary exhibition space is divided to two parts that are connected by a barrier free accessible ramp (6% slopes). The first part is bright and directly accessible from the entry hall with a panoramic window to the park and the second part is at the mezzanine level and will accommodate the artworks of the temporary exhibition that are more sensitive to light and will be artificially lit. This mezzanine will also act as an intermediate sequence in the visitors’ trajectory from the entry hall to the permanent exhibition hall above.

The Permanent Exhibition Hall: The rather autonomous rooms on the ground floor merge to form one grand, cohesive permanent exhibition hall on the second floor. A generous 1800 SM unobstructed space allows the curators to have maximum freedom in organizing the permanent collection of the Bauhaus.  The roof will be a structural folded plate that hovers above the floor and set the light and ambience under itself. The geometry of the folded roof plates with their different joist orientations and light capturing conditions will create a nuanced ambience on the exhibition hall. The visitors arrive via a spiral stair (or the elevator) from the mezzanine level to the center of the exhibition hall.

Building Systems & Structure: The structure of the building is a series of one way ribbed concrete slabs that on one side are supported by the perimeter walls and on the other supported by a series of diagonal wall/deep beams that taper towards the center and are tied together at the center with a 2m concrete rim. The deep central rim with multiple diffusing layers also carries a very dim natural light to the center of the exhibition.

The radiant floor heating embedded on the concrete floor topping combined with strategic locations for radiators will provide the heating required for the building. Moreover, the ventilation will be accommodated by heat recovery ventilator units attached to the soffit of the deep inset windows on each floor and distributed across the hall by exposed ductworks.

the exterior and interior massive concrete shear walls and the low opening ratio (less than 25%) the cooling load will be minimized architecturally. A mechanical room in the basement will accommodate the air handling units and the access to open air will be provided via underground trenches to the at grade grills on the green patch on the north side of the project where the compressors will be located (to be detached from the park the service access path and the building). The distribution of cool air will be done by exposed ductwork between the concrete joists on the ceiling of the first floor feeding both the first floor and the exhibition hall.

Building Envelope: Building envelope is proposed to be 700 mm insulated concrete walls with all of the concrete to be cast on the warm side of the insulation and rendered with lime plaster both on the interior and the exterior. The window areas are reduced and the increased mass of the envelope functions as thermal mass to store energy over a long time cycle and gradually dissipate it back to the occupants to create a degree of thermal comfort normally found in the historic buildings. The building will shift away from contemporary practices of multi layered facades with sophisticated mechanical equipment and move towards the new/old paradigm of using massive solid breathable walls that are built to last and create a pleasant thermal atmosphere without the extra maintenance cost associated with contemporary hi-tech low energy buildings.

Steel thermally broken welded frame windows with double glazed insulated units are proposed for their high thermal performance (Uw value 1.3 W/m²K for fixed glazing) and extremely narrow face width resulting from the structural strength and torsion resistance of the steel profiles that will allow large windows with extremely slender frames as well as a reference to the tectonic of the original Bauhaus windows.



Function: The museum is designed to exhibit and celebrating the history of the Bauhaus and Modern Movement. The art delivery, distribution and storage are organized on the north quadrant of the building accessed by an oblique driveway for the trucks from Friedrichstraße. The logistics of the building will be both at grade and in the basement and is connected to all of the exhibition floors by an art handling elevator.

The café patio, and the vehicular access to the building form a public paved area on the north east side of the park with subtle measures to define zones of different use, namely, a small raise on the pavers or stainless steel bollards. The extension of the café patio towards the park forms the outdoor exhibition area of the museum on the north.

The education center and the event space are grouped together along the group ticket booth and the administration mezzanine with offices on the south quadrant of the building. An outdoor exhibition area in front of the workshop will be used by the students for the outdoor activities as well as an exhibition area for the museum to assure a degree of vibrancy on the south side where the building footprints bends in to embrace the memorial for the victim of Fascism. A separate set of washrooms will service the south quadrant to create autonomy from the hours of the operations of the museum for the administration and Education quadrant.

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