Up until today we have been existing in old towns, old buildings, stone everything in both Denmark and Germany. Today, when we reach Dessau, there is a noticeable difference. There are no old stone houses or old buildings (and by old I mean 1500s old). The city was for all intents and purposes destroyed by allied bombing raids in 1945. What we see are wide avenues with square blocky buildings built after WWII when Dessau was within the GDR (East Germany). The buildings reflect the architectural stylings of the communist regime. And where are all the people? The streets are barren! There are very few tourists. Those who have come here are like us, in search of the Bauhaus, but the numbers are few and no where near what we have encountered in Munich or Weimar.
We came to Dessau to explore the Bauhaus as this is were the school moved after leaving Weimar. It stayed until the Nazis shut it down and once again had to move, this time to Berlin. There are a number of structures, the ones the bombs did not hit, to look at and the Bauhaus School, designed by Walter Gropius and built specifically to accommodate the school, to tour.
We get into Dessau around noon and that leaves time to visit some of the most far flung buildings designed and built during the time the Bauhaus was in session in Dessau. The district of Torten at the south end of Dessau has a few streets of what we would call row housing designed and built by Bauhaus Masters. They still stand massed as they were originally built but because of the innate human desire for individuality the people living here have modified and renovated the places beyond recognition. Unfortunately these changes were undertaken without proper architectural intervention. Whether this is because of ignorance of the historical importance of these buildings or if it was because the owners just do not care, the renovations are quite literally a travesty. What is quite odd though as those who have endeavored to maintain the original building intact have become by happenstance the individuals that all the others sought to be by imposing hideous enhancements. Even though most of the units have been messed up one can still get a feeling for how it should be and how radical the place would have been in the 1920’s.
I’ve seen this housing development in pictures and it is kind of spooky to walk though in real life. Tomorrow we will tackle some more places I only know as images and see if the 3D tactile experience lives up to the expectations built up over many years of oogling glossies.