Between park and plaza

Almost 100 years since its inception, the Bauhaus school’s progressive design philosophies still permeate our everyday consciousness. The influence of Bauhaus modernism is everywhere – from buildings to products – and their creation is underscored by a sense of simplicity and unity.

As cultural institutions, museums have evolved from being simply repositories of artifacts to being vital resources for the cultural and economic revival of cities. Our proposal develops this notion still further, to using them as strategic tools for urban integration.

The proposed new museum will house art objects created during the school’s Dessau period between 1925 and 1932. Located in Dessau’s City Park, the new building will not only embody the functional and aesthetic sensibilities that the Bauhaus school epitomized, but also create an opportunity to engage with the city.

The City Park has been an important public space since the early 20th century, a ‘green lung’ amidst Dessau’s historic urban fabric. In this setting – of both cultural and civic importance – the addition of the Bauhaus Museum must respect both the spirit of the park and of its relationship with the city.

Our project seeks to create a dialog between the park, the urban plaza, and the surrounding city fabric. The proposal integrates the museum’s functions with the city’s existing access networks, using horizontal and vertical planes expressed in a restrained architectural language, which becomes the backdrop for the public amenity of the City Park.

The new exhibition volume hovers above its public areas, which are positioned on the ground floor along the inner edge of the site, creating a seamless sunken plaza bookended by the post office at one end and residential high-rise blocks at the other. The space to the north will amalgamate itself with Friedrichstraße to form an urban square populated by the museum’s cafeteria and other street-level activities. The linear promenade to the south merges the museum into the park, creating a generous approach that allows users to experience the building from afar before they enter.

So, the proposed ensemble will act as a ‘soft threshold’ between the city and the park, a new public space that is more intimate and better connected to the surrounding public realms, and reveals controlled views of the parkland.

The entrance area, at the juncture of the two volumes, is a transit node that allows people to pass through the building, but without necessarily having to enter the museum itself. The three floors of exhibition spaces can be arranged to allow for a variety of visitor routes, depending on each exhibition’s themes and spatial needs.

The public areas — the visitor center, museum education area, and cafeteria — are all accommodated at the ground level and open onto both the plaza and the park. The logistic service areas are tucked away belowground and independently accessed.

The contrasts inherent in the new museum design are reflected in its materiality. The linear ground-level volumes are visually dark, intended to anchor their public functions into the plaza and to orient the user towards the museum’s principal entrance. The raised exhibition building — which is aligned to Hobuschgaße along one edge and to the post office on the other, choreographing views for pedestrians — is light and translucent, appearing to float freely above the plaza.

Bauhaus Museum Dessau (Between park and plaza) | date : 2015 | location : Dessau, Germany | surface : 4.000 m2 | team : Madhusudhan Chalasani, Prathyusha Viddam, Javier Ugarte Albizu, Jean Baptiste Peter, Mario Yanez Aller, Bharat Kumar, Celia Fernandez Duque | status : International Architecture Competition