Out of the Display Case:
The "Growing House" by Rudolf Ortner

// Object Talk
Thu, 23 Nov 2023, 6 pm
Bauhaus Museum Dessau
Open Stage

In December 1930, in the midst of the Great Depression, the building magazine Die Bauwelt announced the competition Das wachsende Haus (The Growing House), to which almost 2000 entries were submitted. A consortium of prominent architects, including Walter Gropius, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Leberecht Migge, also dealt with the topic of developing a simple, low-cost, prefabricated annexe house for a "simple, natural yet progressive" life in the countryside.

The core of the house, with 25 square metres of built-up area, was to accommodate all the necessary functions in the smallest possible space and be systematically expandable as needed and according to financial possibilities. A rentable room and a workshop were to be integrated as part of an acquisition concept, plant house and small animal stables as the basis for self-sufficiency. Thirty of the designs were realised and presented to the public as model houses for the Berlin Summer Exhibition Sun, Air and House for All in 1932.

Rudolf Ortner, who studied at the Bauhaus under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Ludwig Hilberseimer from 1932 – 1933, also took part in the competition. His design for a wooden house with two extension levels, which has been preserved on seven sheets, is the starting point for the object discussion with Dorothea Roos, head of the building department of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. Ortner's contribution has neither won a prize nor been built. However, it is prototypical for the majority of the competition entries, which today, as then, open up a discourse around the topics of How to live? between crisis management and vision of the future, consumer debate and minimalism movement, urban critique and new longing for the countryside, self-sufficiency and circular economy, Tiny House and land consumption.