The Bauhaus was only given its permanent place in Weimar’s rich commemorative landscape in 1995: a makeshift Bauhaus Museum was set up in the former museum of art on the Theaterplatz, which to date only presents a small selection of the extensive Weimar Bauhaus collection. The museum neither has enough space for the numerous Bauhaus objects, nor does it meet today’s museological and restorative requirements.
In 2008 the German Federation and the Land Thuringia commissioned the Klassik Stiftung Weimar with the building of a new Bauhaus Museum. Following an international architectural competition, construction began in November 2015. The bauhaus museum weimar will be inaugurated during the Bauhaus centenary 2019.
Function: Exhibition spaces and rooms for pedagogical activities, visitor service, shop, lounge and café
Exhibition space: 2,250 m²
Costs: 22.6 million euros
Construction period: 2015 until end 2018
In the international architectural competition for the bauhaus museum weimar the winning design by Prof. Heike Hanada, Berlin, in cooperation with Prof. Benedict Tonon was chosen from more than 500 contestants.
The geometrically clear architecture – a minimalistic glass cube set over a concrete base – includes five levels that converge in two-storied open spaces. Visitors can access the museum from two sides: from the city level via a generous entrance hall – or from the adjacent Weimarhallenpark via a large terrace on the ground floor.
The façade is characterised by narrow panels of opaque, frosted glass. They float freely without a frame and form a regular horizontal rhythm which is superimposed by a linear grid of fine black lines which refract unevenly. Horizontal light strips around the body of the structure provide illumination at nighttime.
The entrance hall is the starting point for all the main paths in the museum. Visitors quickly gain orientation by means of a cascading staircase placed within a cleverly structured coordinate system. Thanks to horizontal and diagonal lines of view in relation to the adjacent open spaces, the functions of the individual areas are immediately discernible. The floor and walls of the hall correspond with the materiality and haptic quality of the exterior concrete base of the museum.
Three questions for Prof. Heike Hanada, laboratory for art and architecture, Berlin
Ms. Hanada, do you see yourself and your architectural design of the museum in the tradition of the Bauhaus?
The words “tradition” and “Bauhaus” are contradictory in my opinion. The Bauhaus was an anti-traditional movement. It always sought to be avant-garde and modernist. In that sense, it’s not really possible to adhere to the tradition of the Bauhaus. It’s debatable whether we are still capable of assuming an avant-garde position similar to that at the beginning of the 20th century. What is more urgent, I think, is to overcome the failure of modernity, and based on this awareness, develop a contemporary architecture which takes an unconventional stance between tradition and modernity.
What is the central idea of your design?
Basically, it’s two ideas which complement each other in terms of urban planning and interior design, and which are strongly linked to the topography of the location. The museum is tucked into the slope of the Weimarhallenpark, and thereby marks the rupture in the terrain where backfill was laid for the construction of the National Socialist “Gauforum”. The museum connects the park and city levels via stairways which traverse the interior and exterior areas. The interior stairs run through the entire building, connecting the open two-story inner foyer with a cascading staircase. The tour culminates in a “stairway to heaven” which takes one back from the third storey to the ground floor. My aim was to create surprising visual relationships which would guide visitors through the building, similar to the diagonal views that cut across the Park on the Ilm.
What do you wish for the bauhaus museum in the future?
That it doesn’t become a conventional museum in the classical sense, but rather like a workshop where the guests, inhabitants and universities of Weimar can gather and work together with the museum. That’s why the design is less representative in the sense of a classical art museum; it’s supposed to possess a workshop-like character. This can be seen, for example, in the rather rough concrete surfaces reminiscent of old industrial halls. The museum shouldn’t only be a place for reflection, but should also offer visitors a chance to play an active role themselves.
The bauhaus museum weimar is being built at the edge of the Weimarhallenpark, directly opposite the former »Weimar Gauforum«. The urban and historically significant location of the new building offers a unique possibility to attractively develop the district between the Goetheplatz, Nordvorstadt and the Bahnhofsviertel (area around the station) and to give it a cultural perspective.
Three time periods of modernism converge in a historically unique way in a focal point of sorts at the new Bauhaus museum: the so-called green, cultural and sports axis to the west of the new building as a large »cultural project« of the Weimar Republic, the monumental architecture of the »Gauforum« from the Nazi period as well as the ensuing handling of the existing architectural testimonies by the GDR including urban planning under a socialist banner.
The bauhaus museum weimar offers the perspective to create a lively cultural district spanning the period of the late 19th century, the ambivalent history of modernism, down to the present day. It will also be one of the most important strategic points in the »topography of modernism« – a network connecting both historical and memorial sites all over Weimar.
The Klassik Stiftung and city of Weimar launched an architectural competition for the establishment of the bauhaus museum weimar in 2011. A total of 536 architecture offices submitted their proposals.
The international jury, chaired by Prof. Jörg Friedrich (Hamburg), consisted of 17 members who were supported by a panel of twelve independent experts. The competition was supervised by Schubert/Horst Architekten, Dresden.
On 15 March 2012 the jury awarded second prizes to Johann Bierkandt (Landau) and the architects HKR (Klaus Krauss and Rolf Kursawe, Cologne). Two third prizes were awarded to Prof. Heike Hanada with Prof. Benedict Tonon (Berlin) and Bube/ Daniela Bergmann (Rotterdam).
The jury awarded three honourable mentions for the proposals submitted by Karl Hufnagel Architekten (Berlin), hks Hestermann Rommel Architekten und Gesamtplaner GmbH (Erfurt) and menomenopiu architectures/Alessandro Balducci (Rome).
In the subsequent procurement procedure for freelance services (VOF-procedure), the design concept by the Berlin-based architect Prof. Heike Hanada with Prof. Benedict Tonon received final approval.