The Bauhaus style of architecture is and was derived from the ideas taught at the Staatliches Bauhaus school in Germany. The school was dedicated to the seamless combination of crafts and the fine arts. The school was in operation for fourteen years from 1919 to 1933. It became known as simply Bauhaus and translates from German precisely to the English “School of Construction”.
Founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius, the focus of the school was a total combination of all types of arts. Eventually, architecture was to be incorporated and influenced by the Bauhaus movement. Gropius wanted to bring all art forms and niches together into one, universal modernist conglomeration. Many architects have maintained the ideas and design philosophies of Bauhaus to this day.
As a result, the Bauhaus style of architecture has had a major impact on the Modernist style of architecture. Even through the leadership of three different directors in three different cities, the influences of Bauhaus design is seen today even though the school closed in 1933. Such was the far reaching influence of Gropius’ ideas, creativity and teachings.
The Bauhaus style of architecture was itself influenced by many factors. Some of these were internal; others were external. For instance, the directorship changed from Walter Gropius to Hannes Meyer in 1928. Meyer subsequently closed the school’s pottery program ad moved the school to Dessau. Two years later, he was replaced as director by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. When van der Rohe was at the head of the school, he made it into a private school and refused to allow any of Meyer’s followers to attend. The pottery program was effectively reinstated and all art forms were once again in unison.
External influences include the advent of WWI and the rise of the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler. Under Hitler’s iron fist rule, forms of art were tightly censored. All forms of art created had to be approved by the ruling party, hence a decline in originality and creativity. With the defeat of Germany by the United States, this blockade was removed and a wild surge of creative experimentation resulted.
Much of Australian Architecture and construction design have been strongly influenced by the Bauhaus style of architecture. With its modernist look and almost futuristic feel, this is a major style choice of architects in Melbourne and elsewhere in the country.
Many of the most recognisable Australian structures and buildings show the Bauhaus style quite boldly. Examples include, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge both of which are good examples of the modernist design ideologies of the Bauhaus.
One of the more famous, well known architects Melbourne has to offer is Robin Boyd. He always said that his travels through other countries opened his mind to new ideas. Most notably, he stated that Europe and the United States in particular had a major impact on his design motivation. The most notable structure attributed to Boyd is the Featherston House. The entire home is built around an internal atrium garden. A high arched skylight roof gives the impression of being outdoors. Mr. Boyd was also involved in the design of two other residential structures with another of the notable architects Melbourne has to offer up, Roy Grounds, who designed the library of Walsh House.
Mr. Grounds is most remembered for the Australian Academy of Science building in Canberra. The domed design was years ahead of its time as the building was erected in 1959. In fact the Royal Australian Institute of Architects nominated the Shine Dome, as it is called, to the World Register of Significant 20th Century Architecture. Mr. Boyd passed away in 1971 and Mr. Grounds in 1981, but their legacies still influence architects in Melbourne and around Australia.
Another notable Bauhaus designer is Harry Seidler. Mr. Seidler is noted for bringing the Bauhaus ideology from public displays to residential designs. Seidler is the single most prolific designer of modernist architecture in Australia. He successfully adapted the Bauhaus principles to single family dwellings. He is another of the notable architects Melbourne has given the world.
As his first commission, he designed and built a home for his own mother, Rose Seidler. The structure is characterized by an open living space. Seidler then surrounded the interior with glass panels that act as walls. The exterior views of the valley were utilized as part of the home. The rectangular shape and tentacle like moorings make it a notable piece of residential Bauhaus style architecture.