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The people behind the architecture

We know that in addition to Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer, numerous Bauhaus students were involved in the planning and construction of the Federal School: Arieh Sharon, Hermann Bunzel, Wera Meyer-Waldeck, Anni Albers, Lotte Beese, Thomas Flake, Konrad Püschel to mention only a few of them by name. Here, Bauhaus researcher Dr. Anja Guttenberger searches for traces of the architects and designers who made the Bauhaus ensemble in Bernau what it is today: an outstanding building of modernity.

Hannes Meyer
The "red" Bauhaus director

The Swiss architect Hannes Meyer became Walter Gropius' successor at the Bauhaus in 1928. He had already come to the Bauhaus in Dessau a year earlier with his building office partner Hans Wittwer from Basel to set up the long-awaited architecture class. His directorship brought a fresh wind of change to the Bauhaus. Life and the organisation of the workshops became more liberal and open to all Bauhaus students. Now the women were also free to decide in which workshop they wanted to be trained after the obligatory preliminary course. The structure of the workshops was simplified into building and furnishing departments, which emphasised the desired joint work of all Bauhaus workshops on one building. When Meyer won first place in 1928 with his competition entry for the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau and was thus awarded the contract for planning and construction, it was clear to him that this building was to become his first (and only) Bauhaus project, which was to realise this work, which Meyer considered ideal, as a collective. An ambitious project, successfully implemented. In 1930, only three months after the opening of the Trade Union School on 4 May, Meyer was dismissed by the Dessau magistrate in absentia due to his openly left-wing political stance.




Wera Meyer-Waldeck
BAUHAUS DESIGN for the Trade Union School

If we take a look inside the school, many questions still remain, the most obvious of these being: How much Bauhaus is there in the Bauhaus? After some research it is evident that someone connected to the Bauhaus was responsible for the interior design of the Trade Union School – a training facility for trade union official – more precisely: a female someone from the Bauhaus, specifically Wera Meyer-Waldeck. It is a name that has thus far received little attention in Bauhaus design literature. During an extra semester she works in Hannes Meyer's Berlin building office and plans and designs the interior of the ADGB Trade Union School.


Konrad Püschel
Als Praktikant auf der Bernauer Baustelle

Mit der ADGB-Bundesschule in Bernau konnte Hannes Meyer seine Idealvorstellung davon verwirklichen, wie Lehre und Praxis am Bau vereint werden können. Dazu gehörte nicht nur die Beteiligung von Bauhaus-Studenten an der Planung des Bauensembles, sondern auch die Beschäftigung von Studenten am Bauvorhaben selbst. Konrad Püschel war einer von ihnen. Im Frühjahr/Sommer 1929 arbeitete er auf der Bernauer Baustelle als Maurer- und Zimmermannspraktikant.


Arieh Sharon
Kibbutz to Bauhaus

When Arieh Sharon came to the Bauhaus in Dessau at the age of 26, he was already an architect. He became one of Hannes Meyer's most trusted students and closest collaborators. When Meyer won the architectural competition for the ADGB Trade Union School in 1928, he appointed Sharon as construction manager for the teacher and employees housings. After Hans Wittwer's departure from the Bauhaus and the Bernau school project in spring 1929, Meyer even assigned Sharon the entire management of the Berlin building office, which had been set up especially for the planning and execution of the Trade Union School. In 1931 Sharon returned to Palestine and became one of the most renowned architects in the planning and construction of the new state of Israel.







Hans Wittwer
The "unknown" Bauhaus architect

Hans Wittwer came to the Bauhaus in Dessau together with Hannes Meyer in 1927. When Meyer rose to become director, he took over the architecture class and introduced fundamental changes: Before the actual planning of buildings, his students had to make analyses of the location, the way of the sun and the needs of the future residents. The results were graphically translated into diagrams. Floor plans, site plans and buildings were direct results from these diagrams. Hans Wittwer is the "unknown" Bauhaus architect, because Meyer never mentioned his partner's involvement in the planning of the ADGB Trade Union School. Only in his obituary of Wittwer after his death in 1952 did he hint at Wittwer's collaboration in Bernau. But it was Wittwer who had spent his nights with the Bauhaus students brooding over the plans for the competition, managing Meyer's Berlin building office and going out to Bernau when necessary. Ultimately, Wittwer quit his position at the Bauhaus for this reason and went to Burg Giebichenstein in Halle/Saale, where he received the recognition for his work that Meyer had refused to give him.