Age of Masters: Banham vuelve en el 62 a la Bauhaus, a Gropius y a Dessau

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“The present state of the Bauhaus is the enduring shame of the modern movement. Not that anyone can do much about it while Germany remains effectively halved and it lies beyond the remains of the Iron Curtain: decrepit, damaged, derisorily restored, its famous walls of glass still reduced in part to small square windows, in a provisional brick skin. But if it were possible to do anything to mend its ravaged face, there are many who would be glad to have it off their consciences.
Why be so concerned? For two reasons. Firstly it is a sacred site, where Walter Gropius gave architectural and institutional form to a concept of design education that has changed the world, and inspires, enrages, supports and depresses design-teachers even today  a half-century after he first began to rough it out. The first Bauhaus , which he founded at Weimar in 1919 was already dedicated to the heart-and-hand concept of learning by doing, education through knowledge of materials and tools. At Dessau the concept could be extended to include the reasoning mind and machine production. The new buildings there had a machine-shop as well as studios, and the architecture school –as befitted the eagles’ nest of a new age that Gropius savoured as sharply as the Futurist s did- was on a bridge spanning a road between two blocks. This was not an ingenious necessity inspired by a difficult site, for the ground had been wide-open and suburban when Gropius began to design; the relationship of building to road was of Gropius ´s own making, the road was there because he put it there. A manifesto building, then, for a motorized age.
Secondly, it was more than a manifesto, it was a masterpiece: the first really big masterpiece of the modern movement, the full powers of the new architecture deployed for the first time on a scale too big to be dismissed as mere domestic eccentricity. Gropius presented to the world a large multi-purpose structure cast entirely in the new idiom, and so convincingly that there couls no longer be any doubt that this idiom was an architecture in its own right, as surely as Gothic or Georgian. But the mastery exhibited by Gropius at this master moment of his career, goes deeper than the mere management of a style. The Bauhaus buildings at Dessau, in their original condition, were modern right the way through. The functional grouping of the parts may appear loose, with the building hooking out into the landscape in three right-angled arms, but there is no suggestion of the building falling apart visually. From all aspects –and it is meant to be seen from all sides- the separate elements are seen to group themselves satisfactorily in a manner that never fails to reveal the underlying formal order of the whole, the difference of construction and fenestration revealing the functional order that underlies the forms, and nowhere more powerfully than in the all-glazed wall of the workshop block.
Sigfried Giedion has called it a space-time composition, revealing itself only to a moving observer as he circulates round it, but such an observer should also move through it, because as he passes under the celebrated bridge, he will find himself at one point in the middle of a balanced symmetrical composition, with identical and equal entrances facing one another on opposite sides of the road, serving identical stairs lit by identical windows. It so happens that these two ´separate but equal´ entrances served the Dessau Technical School on one side, and the Bauhaus proper on the other, thus reintroducing a ´snobbish distinction between artisan and artist´ that Gropius had once tried to abolish- just one of the little political compromises by which  Gropius kept the Bauhaus together through thick and thin, and far less important than what symmetry itself seems to symbolize. This piece of antique formality must be some kind of ritual gesture to the ancient gods of order and discipline, for which symmetry is still the most eloquent symbol we have, for the Bauhaus is, above all others, the building in which Gropius dedicated himself and his followers to the concept of the disciplined service of a functional order, and proved the concept to be as expressive and architectural as any exercise in architecture or expression for their own sakes. It is a shrine to the belief that the Machine Age is good."

Extracto de:
Reyner Banham.Age of Master. A Personal View of Modern Architecture. 
Edición corregida y ampliada de 1975, Original de 1962
Fotografía tomada de la web, podría tener derechos
Seleccionado por el arq. Martín Lisnovsky

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