This new political project would come to the forefront in the Bauhaus's conceptualization of functionalism, particularly under the second director Hannes Myer, who believed that architecture should be low cost and fulfill the living and working needs of the common working man. This idealistic belief, as detailed in such works as Karel Teige's the Minimum Dwelling, resulted in the construction of panel housing units in cities throughout Germany - and Central and Eastern Europe - throughout the course of the following century.
The Bauhaus School would operate until the year 1933, when the rise of fascism put an end to its activities (the Deutscher Werkbund attempted to conform to the ideals espoused by the Nazi regime, and was thus sharply criticized by Gropius.)
The changing concerns of the Bauhaus as a style and pedagogical approach during this period was rooted in the shifting directorship that the school underwent - not to mention its shifting locations, from Weimar to Dessau to Berlin. After Gropius departed the Bauhaus in 1927, Myer led the school up until 1930. In its final three years of existence, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe led the Bauhaus.
The development of the Bauhaus represented a turn away from the expressionism that many architects had begun to turn towards during this period. The architectural achievements of the Bauhaus soon became the yardstick by which previous accomplishments - including those of the Werkbund - would be measured. Gropius's Bauhaus buildings in Dessau, constructed in 1925 and 1926, stressed both the development of the Werkbund's functionalist ideas through the artist's individual vision; in the words of Siegfried Giedion, "major endeavors of modern architecture are fulfilled [through the] conscious realization of an artist's intent."
Whereas the Deutsche Werkbund had confused its aesthetic principles with advances in engineering, the Bauhaus was seen to have accomplished a veritable fusion of form and function in their architectural and design practices.
Ironically, the Bauhaus managed to realize many of the Werkbund's (i.e. Muthesius's) earliest ideas in completely severing its ties to the past in favor of a completely modern vision, as represented by the stern geometric structure of Gropius's Bauhaus buildings in Dessau. Whereas the architects affiliated with the Werkbund still injected classical ideals of architecture into their designs, effectively giving rise to such a-tectonic forms as represented in van der Velde's controversial building for the 1914 Cologne Exhibition, the Bauhaus managed to shed all indications of the classical past in forging what would become known as the "New Objectivity."
While the Bauhaus and many of its creations would continue to live on in one form or another, the Bauhaus School was essentially destroyed when the National Socialists came to power in Germany in the year 1933.
While the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus both shared similar visions of a 20th century architectural and design standard that would attain a sort of aesthetic purity by doing away with ornamentation in favor of an objective functionalism that saw the harmonization of form with function, the architectural products of the two movements appear to be quite distinct from a contemporary standpoint. I believe that the key to this distinction lies in the inconsistencies in the Werkbund project that came to light in the debates of 1914 - inconsistencies that were later resolved by the Bauhaus projects of the subsequent decades.
Indeed, some of the most vital inconsistencies in the Werkbund's project were of a political nature. While this is not the place to go explore the multiple political implications of the Werkbund in detail, suffice to say that the figure of Muthesius proved to be a conflictual force in the Werkbund's evolution. While he was responsible for spearheading the movement in the first place - and doubtless that without Muthesius, there would have been no Bauhaus - at the same time he was responsible for the movement's decline, thanks to his militant denial of individual expression in architecture and design. It was this negation of Muthesius that the Bauhaus school would reverse, effectively transforming a national platform into an international style, a conservative aesthetic into a highly progressive and open-ended approach.
Anderson, Stanford. Peter Behrens. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Giedion, Siegfried. Space, Time, and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition, 5th ed.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967.
Huddersfield Information Project. "Deutsche Werkbund." Huddersfield University Library. http://www.hud.ac.uk/schools/library/hip/design/lecture/deuwer.html (Accessed September 24, 2007).
Schwartz, Frederic J. The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture before the First
World War. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.
Maciuika, John V. "Wilhelmine Precedents for the Bauhaus: Hermann Mauthesius, the Prussian State, and the German Werkbund." In Bauhaus Culture, ed. Kathleen
James-Chakraborty. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
Teige, Karel. The Minimum Dwelling. Trans. Eric Dluhosch. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002.
Frederic J. Schwartz, the Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture before the First World War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996).
Stanford Anderson, Peter Behrens (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 138.
Schwartz 1996, 3.
John V. Maciuika, "Wilhelmine Precedents for the Bauhaus: Hermann Mauthesius, the Prussian State, and the German Werkbund," in Bauhaus Culture, ed. Kathleen James-Chakraborty (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 19-23.
Huddersfield Information Project, "Deutsche Werkbund," Huddersfield University Library, http://www.hud.ac.uk/schools/library/hip/design/lecture/deuwer.html.
Karel Teige, the Minimum Dwelling, trans. Eric Dluhosch (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002)
Huddersfield Information Project.
Siegfried Giedion, Space, Time, and Architecture: The Growth of a New…