Construction Department
Construction Department

Apart from being used as the Foundation’s headquarters, the Bauhaus Building, the Masters’ Houses, and the Dessau-Törten Housing Estate as World Heritage Sites, are important destinations for tourists and visitors. People expect to experience these prime examples of classic modernism in a state of gleaming white perfection, and to “verify the images in their heads at the original site”, as Ulrike Wendland, former state conservator of Saxony-Anhalt, wrote in 2021.

The visual value of a building does not end at its surface. It incorporates its architectural history and the urban space in which the Bauhaus buildings have been situated since 1926, which has always been subject to constant change.

 

However, in order to preserve this value, measures must be taken continuously to maintain the buildings’ structures. Obviously, these can be seen on site in the form of scaffolding, construction fences, and tarpaulins.

 

This can often be confusing, as it does not conform to visitors’ initial expectations. However, it can serve to make people aware of the constant necessity to undertake maintenance work: the “mystification” of legendary buildings gives way to the reality of the care and effort required to protect them. By openly showing the damage to the building structure, we help visitors to understand that measures must be taken to conserve it. It is all about preventing the possibility of further damage. Successful repairs are made visible, which adds to the plausibility of the measures taken. The strategies that have been chosen are communicated to the public, which means that interested parties can actively follow the work process.

 

In this way, the value of the monument is communicated through and by the building itself, contributing to the Foundation’s artistic and scientific educational mission.

 

Another objective of the department is to conduct ongoing scientific research on the Bauhaus Building and other modernist buildings. The resulting Building Research Archive, with its collection of historical objects and components from the modernist building era, is unique.

Building Research Archive

Since the 1990s, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation has maintained an internationally unique Building Research Archive. With its wide variety of materials, it serves as a basis for research on construction measures, scientific questions, and the maintenance of buildings.

 

In the Building Research Archive, objects, documents, and findings from building research and the renovation of the Bauhaus and other modernist buildings are collected and made accessible for research purposes. The archive’s main focus is on building components such as windows, doors, and electrical switches, but its holdings also include samples of building materials and building products such as concrete blocks, bricks, plaster fragments, paint samples, samples of screeds and floor coverings, fragments of technical installations, and so on. Historical and present-day photographs and plans, eye witness reports, and literature on historic building constructions, techniques, and materials round off the archive’s collection.

 

Research tasks

  • Conservation management plans: detailed research on the maintenance and care of selected surfaces, building components, and furnishing elements (e.g., the development of repair mortar for stonewood screed, analysis and research on the fabric covering the auditorium chairs, maintenance of the steel windows, etc.)
  • Supporting planned construction measures (Bauhaus buildings, Masters’ Houses, Dessau-Törten Housing Estate): targeted research on the condition of the buildings during their construction and subsequent changes made to the buildings
  • Securing and recording material samples and components that are exposed or removed during construction measures, including additional research to evaluate them
  • Securing and recording historical material on the Bauhaus buildings such as photographs, drawings, and other documents
  • Interviews with former or current residents of the Bauhaus buildings and other contemporary witnesses

 

Since 2019, the work of the Building Research Archive has been accessible to the public via the permanent exhibition Archaeology of Modernism, which is on show in the Bauhaus Building.