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Ideologies, Concepts and the Influence of Bauhaus Curriculum on Modern Day

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Architecture
Wordcount: 5775 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Many groups and individuals are influenced by design movements such as Bauhaus to this day. The Bauhaus was an Institution Art School, that taught the subject of Art and Design in the early 20th century in Germany. Bauhaus reformed design culture by presenting a cross-disciplinary curriculum and incorporated the junction of modernism. As seen as one of the earliest modernist movement proponents, Bauhaus encountered a variety of ‘ism’, from Expressionism, Rationalism and Cubism unit Neve Sachlichkiet (TATE, 1923). The presented essay will explore Bauhaus principles, within the structured Curriculum of Bauhaus. Understanding the ideologies that start to form when exploring the themes of structural curriculum and the architecture itself within the diagram of Bauhaus Curriculum and current educational curriculums such as the National Curriculum for England (GOV,2014).

Exploring ideologies such as; ‘zeitgeist’ and ‘gesamkunstwerk’, that manifest within the architecture of Bauhaus itself. Lastly, the essay will explore the influence Bauhaus has had on today’s architecture, the ideology, concepts and methods into the new architecture, and historical ideology meaning behind the foundations of ‘The Barbican Centre’ (Barbican, 2019: Online).

The History Behind Bauhaus

Bauhaus was an influential Art and Design movement that began in Weimer, Germany in 1919. Bauhaus was introduced by Architect Walter Gropius 1833 till 1969. Bauhaus’ main objective was to create a radical and wide-ranging concept that would ‘reimage the material world to reflect the unity of all arts’(Winton. A, 2007: online). Walter Gropius expressed his vison to ‘embrace architecture and sculpture and painting into on unity’ (Bauhaus, 1919:18), this is also refined in The Proclamation of the Bauhaus.  The proclamation described a utopian ideology for the ideal guild to craftsmanship, these of which incorporate architecture, sculpture and painting into one curricular study. Walter Gropius developed a structural based curriculum diagram, which was based upon crafts and arts and design. the aims were to benefit artist and designers, who would be accomplishing objects and arts, while using the curriculum structure and way of system living. Bauhaus emerges principles of fine art and design education in the aim to succeed ‘like the crystal symbol of a new faith’ (Bauhaus,1919:18). This signifies that Bauhaus movement will with evidential and the start of new beginnings.

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The Bauhaus Curriculum was immersed with students from all over Germany and Austria, aged seventeen to forty years old. The Bauhaus curriculum begins with a preliminary course which allows students to study topics including: materials, the theory behind colour and teach the understanding of formal relationships to prepare students in more advanced studies. The Preliminary course was taught by visual artists such as; Wassily Kandinsky (TATE,1866-1944). Kandinsky taught basic design theory which expressed the relationship between form and colour. We understand that Kandinsky’s work was influenced by theosophy, his abstract work reveals a fascination for primary colours such as yellow and blue, which have been used to enhance the geometrical elements as seen in ‘Swinging’ (Kandinsky,1925).

(Kandinsky, 1925, In TATE, no date: online image)

The Bauhaus’ style of architecture used materials such as glass, masonry and steel. Using these materials to create flexible angles and patterns which resulted into building an aesthetically pleasing and favoured function of mass production, which has been influential in re-design to everyday buildings, that would not hint at any structure of class structural hierarchy. Bauhaus later moved from Weimer to Dessau in 1925, where Groupius started to construct the new school. Dessau contained features that include, glass curtained walls and an asymmetrical, pinwheel that was distributed throughout classrooms. These features have become distinctive styles within architecture, especially in studio and class room spaces to use its maximum efficiency and spatiality. Gropius began teaching architecture with decanted workshops, devoted to metalwork, waving, photography and stage design. After ten years as director of Bauhaus, Gropius left in 1928 to continue with his career as an architect.1928, Hennes Mayer, known as the ‘unknown’ (Dezeen,2018: online) second Bauhaus director, expressed by Dezeen in the article. Mayer ‘soon brought the school town of its most important building commissions’(Dezeen,2018). Therefore, Meyers strengths especially with Bauhaus wallpaper, which became the bestselling products at Bauhaus. On the other hand, Meyers prepared for political protest, but pressures from the government from his own political views, resulted in Meyers resigning from director of Bauhaus in 1930. Which lead to a new director called Mies Van Der Rohe, he was described as ‘placing a greater emphasis on architecture in the school’s curriculum’,by (Walser.L,2019:4). As a result, Bauhaus posted as ‘modern threat’ (Cook.W, 2017: bbc online).this represented a world view, which was opposite of National Socialism. Nazism was seen as nostalgic and nationalistic, we understand that both the Nazis and Bauhaus both took pride in the national identify of its German citizens. On the other hand, Bauhaus was cosmopolitan and advent-garde which resulted into hatred towards the Nazis because of Hitler’s racism, this gave Bauhaus a sense of empowerment and made an international mockery of Hitler. As result, the act of persecution towards Bauhaus by the Nazi’s, was described as ‘backhanded, they were fearful of Bauhaus’ power’ (Cook.W,2017: bbc online), the Nazi’s decision was to ‘dissolve’ (Cook.W,2017:bbc online) Bauhaus and the school came to a final close in 1933.

Bauhaus Curriculum

Figure 1: Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram translated to English 1922 (Source: Lomography, 2012:online)

Figure 1: Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram 1922 (Source: Lomography, 2012:online) shows the structure of the teaching curriculum while at Bauhaus. (Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram 1922:online) was originally developed by Walter Gropius. The diagram places “Bau”, (translated to English) meaning “building”, at the centre of all arts and design studies. We learn that Bauhaus encourages the embracement for modern technologies, in order for the school to succeed its full potential in a modern environment. 

The most popular principle that was followed at Bauhaus was ‘form follows function’(Sullivan.L ,1896: online), he wrote “all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law”. (Sullivan.L ,1896: online), we learn that Walter Gropius continued to keep this expression alive through, thought and movements within art and design practices which become dominated by its function. In some ways, Bauhaus’ design aesthetic was based on simple forms and functionality which reflected the expressionism at the time of Bauhaus. Figure 1: Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram 1922 (Source: Lomography, 2012:online) shows the outer edges that represent a six month preliminary course (the Vorkurs), which are foundation courses set up to help students assimilate the concepts of properties of form, material and colour. After graduating the Vorkurs, students would participate in the two inner circles within the Curriculum diagram, which signifies a three year course, focuses on expressions such as ‘form follows function’(Sullivan.L ,1896: online), whereas the Werklehre concentrates on material construction and crafting with the use of specific materials.    Go back   

Overall, we understand that the development of Bauhaus’ Educational Curriculum System was built upon patterns of workshops, these of which have become revolutionary within the Art and Design Educational Curriculum today. Bauhaus unifies artist and craftsmanship, by combining them together to create an equal partnership. We understand that objectives set by Bauhaus were so, collaborators and artists would be ready for a world of industry and handcrafted products which would be produced in Bauhaus’ workshops, creating a high-level standard of production and used for industrial purposes. Two types of masters, known as (teachers), worked at Bauhaus school. Firstly, ‘Masters Workshop’ (Bauhaus,1919: online), these were experts in specific regulations of art and their own field of craft. Secondly, we learn that the ‘masters of form’ (Bauhaus,1919: online) were given responsibility to assist students allowing them to understand the contemporary thoughts and ideas of ‘Construktist’ (TATE,1920: online) in art and architecture, through modern design. As a result, ‘The Masters of Form’ are the main key holders, who would express key thoughts, ideas and realisation of theory of Bauhaus, conveyed by (Curtis. Jr. W 1996:183) informs us that the principles developed by Walter Gropius, Itten and Kandisky, as well as many other masters at Bauhaus we can categorise these masters into three forms of groups; Ideology, Methods and Concepts. This was in order of developing a concept for the frame work for architecture at Bauhaus, the first concepting shown in figure 1: Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram 1922 (Source: Lomography, 2012:online) the framework that started the educational programme at Bauhaus in Weimar.

The expression, ‘the ideology that developed in the Bauhaus, by Gropius was the zeitgeist, but different emphasis’, given from (Pusptio Hariurti, R 2008:2) describes the ideology within Bauhaus was ‘zeitgeist’ (Pusptio Hariurti, R 2008:2), translates to the to “spirt of ages”. The concept of “spirt” conveys a certain period of time and has been shown throughout twentieth century art and architecture. Art movements such as Bauhaus engaged “spirt”, to achieve and create architecture suitable for new values, resulting in a change in society.  Gropius emphasized ‘zeitgeist’ (Pusptio Hariurti, R 2008:2) ideology in a pragmatic spirt as said by (Lesnikowski, W.G 1982) ‘a sober and pragmatic’. “Pragmatic”, is described as a person or a solution that takes a realistic approach and considers the adjective pragmatic. The opposite of the idealistic is pragmatic, a word that has described the philosophy of “doing what works best”.

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In addition, the expression given from (Pusptio Hariurti, R 2008:2) ‘the concept of rationalisation and standardisation, anti- individualistic and historical style, zeitgeist, cosmology (Klee), synesthetic and concepts of gesamkunstwerk’. Suggests, rationalization is seen as the replacement of tradition’s, value’s and emotion’s, as motivators for behaviour in society, with concepts that are usually based on rationality and reason. “Standardization” is ensuring the process of conformed standards.

“Anti -Individualism” (YouTube, 2017:0.20) is the approach to various areas such as philosophy, literature and historical studies. Whereas, “individualism” is taking care of yourself, it is the belief in practice that every person is self- reliant.

This implies, that the previous concepts can be labelled into two categories; ‘zeitgeist and gesamkunstwerk’, conveyed by from (Pusptio Hariurti, R 2008:2). We learn the ‘zeitgeist’ ideology within Bauhaus was an integrated synthesis of the school’s arts, within the terms of “spirit of the ages”. The similarities to gesamkuntswerk and the concept of ‘the total work of art”, within architectural design, this can symbolize’ the cultural art and design work, in the ninth and twentieth centuries.



Figure 2: Shows the conceptual framework analysis on Concepts, methods and ideology in Bauhaus in Architecture (Source: Docplayer, 2008: online)

Using figure 2: Shows the conceptual framework analysis on Concepts, methods and ideology in Bauhaus in Architecture (Source: Docplayer,2008: online) we understand that the conceptual frame has been be grouped into three groups. The frame work was created to gain a clearer understanding around the activity of the school’s institution, this was conducted by Pustio Hariurti. The findings start to form a manifestation of ideologies within Bauhaus’s architecture.  

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‘Zeitgeist’ ideologies were found in its manifestations in all of their school buildings; Sommerfeld House, Haus am Horn and the Bauhaus Dessau. ‘Zeitgeist’ ideology explored at Sommerfeld House shows implementation of the ideas of expressionism through master Wassily Kandinsky (TATE,1910).  Contemporary contents, such as Kandinsky’s views were a change in social culture through artistic freedom of expression within art and architecture.

‘Zeitgeist’ ideology is also found in Bauhaus Dessau, which designated the implementation of ideas for Neve Bauen in the Bauhaus Dessau.  ‘neve bauen’; translated into English is ‘the New Objectivity’,

the style blended almost seamlessly with German Expressionist Architecture, from which many architects gradually migrated to the modernist style, which has a style of clearer lines, missus the dramatic shapes. Many buildings can be considered both expressionist and modernist. Modernism is a continued expression that is associated with the Bauhaus Schools, which espouses a modernist style, doing much to propagate the new architecture in Germany.

UK Arts and Design Curriculum

Using the government publication on statutory guidance, ‘National Curriculum in England: ‘Arts and Design programmes of study’ (GOV,2013: online) We understand the curriculum structure of Arts and Design programmes and study in England, United Kingdom. The arts and design curriculum are divided and structured into three categorised ‘Key Stage’, through the academic educational years in schools. ‘Key Stage 1’, enables pupils to be taught the uses a range of materials within painting, drawing and structural development to express imaginative ideas. ‘Key Stage 2’, enables pupils to develop their techniques, including control of materials with the creativity of experimental arts, crafts and design work, which would be recorded into a sketchbook, to record observations and enable to revisit ideas. ‘Key Stage 3’, allows pupils to be taught to develop their creativity through a range of media and being able to evaluate their own work, in order to strengthen the visual impact to their work.  The overall purpose of Arts and Design study embodies the highest forms of creative activity, a high-quality art and design education should engage and inspire pupils.

There is no doubt that the Bauhaus curriculum has inspired different educational systems around the world, with one being the UK Arts and Design Curriculum. Similarities, between The Bauhaus curriculum and the UK Arts and Design Curriculum, both are structured into three categorised levels of curricular learning, using Figure 1: Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram 1922 (Source: Lomography, 2012:online) the centre of the structural diagram is labelled ‘Bau’, which means ‘building’, this symbolises the centre of all academic learning that will take place at Bauhaus, the sense of an Art and design environment, where different levels of learning can be taught. As expressed by Walter Groupius (Apollo in the democracy: the cultural obligation of the architect,1968:45), ‘Children should be introduced right from the start to the potentialities of their environment, so the physical and psychological law that govern the visual world, and to the supreme enjoyment that comes from participating in the creative process of giving form to ones living space’.

In similarity, using the (GOV,2013: online) ‘publication on statutory guidance, National Curriculum in England: Arts and Design programmes of study’. We learn that after a parental guardian has chosen the school, the school is categorised into ‘key stages’, for example; ‘key stage 1’ is the legal term (Legislation, GOV:2002) for two years of schooling. This key stage covers pupils during infant school, known as primary school. Both curriculum structures are aimed at providing the best possible out outcomes of their students. On the over hand, the curriculum structures could be argued that they are different, as the Bauhaus curriculum syllabus is focused on the particular art school its self, where’s as UK schools learn more curricular subjects, but still, have aspects of form follows function.

The Influence Of Bauhaus On Current Architecture

Figure 3: The Barbican Centre (source: barbican, 2019: Online image)

Bauhaus has influenced modern day architecture, as seen in figure 3: The Barbican Centre (source: barbican, 2019: Online image). We learn that the Barbican centre is a grade two listed building, the centre is known for being Europe’s largest multi-arts conference centre. The expression ‘one of London’s best examples of brutalist architecture’ given by (Anand. K 2016: online), can be described as an architectural style of design, established in the 1950s and 1960s.The brutalist style of architecture can be described as block-like, including raw forms of materials, such as concrete construction. During the Barbican Centres development, which was designed by architect Chamberlin Powell and Bon (Barbican,2019: online) , the architects created the centre as a part of an utopian vision, in the aim of transformation the area of London, after the aftermath of the Second World War bombing. As a result, The Barbican Centre is seen as a tribute to the Bauhaus School and the architects involved. It is evident that Bauhaus is a continuing influence into architecture which starts to manifest into a vison of modern living, which is has been socialised around art, music and theatre production. This ideology brings art and life together, in a practical sense, forming relationships between Bauhaus and The Barbican Centre. In honour, the centre dedicated a Bauhaus exhibition which was the largest exhibition the UK had seen un over 40 years (Barbican,2019: online).


in conclusion we learn that Bauhaus places the human in the centre of the Bauhaus Curriculum. Commencing with the idea, that every pupil or master is talented, this requires strong minded Master of Works to lead the pupils onwards. The combination of knowledgeable achievements within politics, technology, science, Arts and the areas of activity within existing centres or schools to provide practical educational systems, in order to achieve the best possible outcome. In conclusion, we learn that Bauhaus’ educational curriculum diagram model is based on its works and the masters that allow to teach new skills and ideas to the pupils, has been revolutionary into all art and design curriculum systems today. The ideology of ‘Masters of all forms’ (Curtis. Jr. W 1996:183) and the idea of following the structure to allow yourself to develop as an artist by understanding the structural development into arts, crafts and production. This ideology can be expressed by (Marx K. Engels, 1970:46-48) ‘The connection of social and political structure with production’, we learn that the meaning of ‘social structure’, in sociology is the distinctive arrangement of institutions, were people can interact and live together. Similarly, this was shown by Walter Gropius in enabling social structure to the Bauhaus school, which he achieved by creating the Bauhaus Curriculum Diagram this enabled him to create a social and learning environment where artists and crafts man could work together.

Using both previously mentioned ideologies of ‘zeitgeist’ and ‘gesamkunstwerk’, which start to become the elemental concept behind Bauhaus. However, rationalistic and social arts, is another key concept that defines the movement of Bauhaus, with both expressionism and post expressionism. The ‘gesamkunstwerk’, method becomes the primary method into Bauhaus, both methods have indicated that the manifestations within Bauhaus architecture belong to the phase of ‘expressionism’ and ‘post – expressionism’.

Although Bauhaus only provided Arts and Design education fifteen year, its manifestation into a structural curriculum system as proposed a strong basis for educational institutions, teachers and courses. As a result of this essay, it is observed that Bauhaus’ education Curriculum has encouraged numerous schools. Bauhaus continues to influence today’s world by setting the style architecture, that can be recognised through buildings and homes. Bauhaus is an ideal movement that has not loss its effect.     




         Bayer Herbert, MoMA (1938) -https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_catalogue_2735_300190238.pdf

         Chris moss (2019) ‘100 Years of Bauhaus: Berlin and Beyond’. From: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/mar/16/100-years-bauhaus-germany-berlin-weimar-dessau

  • Dr. Eva Forgacs (1995) (‘the Bauhaus idea and Bauhaus politics’) pp.1-4
  • Friedewald, Boris (2016) ‘Bauhaus’. pp.6-26
  • Karl Marx, Frederick Engels ‘section on Ideology’ pp.44-48
  • Legislation GOV (2002) https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/32/contents
  • Madoff, S. (2009). Art School (propositions for the 21st Century), MIT press
  • Owen Hopkins(2018) ‘ Dezeen’s guide to Bauhaus architecture and design’, https://www.dezeen.com/2018/11/01/bauhaus-100-guide-architecture-design/

         R.pusptio Hairmurti, (2008) ‘Bauhaus ideology, concept and method on Architecture’ from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/206382301_Bauhaus_Ideology_Concept_and_Method_on_Architecture

         Sharp D (2002) ‘architectural In Detail: Bauhaus, Dessau Walter Gropius, from: Phaidon Press Limited.

         Tom Ravenscroft (2019) ‘Alessandro Mendini discusses end of ideology in design in exclusive audio interview from 2015 From: https://www.dezeen.com/2019/02/22/alessandro-mendini-audio-interview-ideology-design/

         Tome Wilson (2009), (‘The Bauhaus Curriculum’) from: http://www.dieselpunks.org/profiles/blogs/art-history-the-bauhaus-1



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