by Georg Muche and Richard Paulick (1926–27)
The Steel House, which stands right next to House Fieger, was commissioned by the municipality of Dessau and built during the first phase of the construction of the Törten Estate. It was completed in spring 1927.
Most of the time it was claimed that one could not see that the house was made of steel. Muche and Paulick, however, found that it all came down to the visibility of this material, desiring a congruency of industrial manufacture and the corresponding formal language. The building is a steel plate construction, consisting of a steel skeleton load bearing structure with 3 mm thick steel plates mounted onto the outer walls. The house has no basement.
The outward appearance is defined by two differently sized cubes pushed together resulting, as with the Haus Am Horn in Weimar, in rooms of different heights. The ceilings of the living room and one of the bedrooms are higher. Here, however, there are no skylights. The doors in the lower areas are room-high, as are the windows. At nearly 90 m², the living area exceeds that of Gropius’s estate houses. Muche later also designed colour variants for his metal prototype houses; the Steel House in Dessau is, in contrast, designed in grey, white and black.
Due to a lack of research funding, the house planned originally – a model that could potentially be extended – was replaced by a non-variable house. The Steel House also remained the only building of its kind in Dessau. Gropius criticised above all the limited possibilities provided by the metal and gave preference to the steel skeleton construction method with concrete outer walls. He did, however, support the construction of the detached house. Under the directorate of Hannes Meyer, Philipp Tolziner developed plans to extend the Törten Estate with steel houses. This plan failed, arguably because of Hannes Meyer’s dismissal.
Inhabited into the 1980s, in 1993 the Steel House was restored in line with monumental preservation regulations.
Since 2001, it has been used by the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation as an information centre for the Dessau-Törten Estate and can be visited with a guided tour. Due to reconstruction work, the steel house can currently only be seen from the outside.