The year: 1919. The movement: Bauhaus. The country: Germany.
Next year will mark 100 years since the founding of Bauhaus in Germany, which turned design and architecture on its head and was created, as founder and Bauhaus director Walter Gropius said, to “create a new society via art.” In 2019, destinations in Germany will pay homage to the avant-garde Bauhaus movement through new museums, exhibits and an array of wondrously whimsical delights—an ideal time to book your architecture, culture, design and history buffs on a trip to this European destination.
As part of a Germany Travel Mart pre-convention tour, I got a front row seat to what travelers can expect when they visit next year and immerse themselves in all things Bauhaus—from its modern-style buildings to its eccentric dancing style. I hopped from Berlin to Dessau and on over to Weimar, following the “Bauhaus Trail,” as these were the three original locations for the Bauhaus colleges and where the movement flourished. Comprising charming hotel stays, lovely restaurants, and UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Bauhaus Trail I followed in one corner of Germany makes for a perfectly packaged vacation booking.
The ghosts of Bauhaus (which translates to “building house”) were palpable as we walked the halls of the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau, located on Berlin’s northeastern border amidst an urban forest. The school, part of the Bauhaus UNESCO World Heritage site, encompasses classrooms, a sports hall, a library, student common rooms, and six apartments for teaching staff, and as we made our way through the school’s hallowed halls we took in many of the core tenets that are so dear to the Bauhaus movement, including simplicity in design; that form follows function; that materials should be exposed rather than hidden within an interior framework; and that there’s a connection between the outside, i.e., nature, and the interior. Travelers interested in this period of history—which followed World War I—will appreciate how enlightened the Bauhaus designers, craftspeople and architects were as the concepts they established in the early part of the 20th century still live on in 21st century architecture and decor—think large windows, glass brick walls, exposed concrete blocks and steel beams, as well as streamlined furniture.
The school, which is one of the only remaining buildings constructed under the leadership of architect Hannes Meyer, who succeeded Walter Gropius as Bauhaus director, offers guided tours of the complex that include a plethora of background information on its architects and planners.
Where to Stay: With its spacious and minimalist-style rooms, the 124-room and -suite Lindner Hotel Am Ku’damm is an ideal property. Steps away are an array of shops and eateries, and the onsite restaurant offers a generous breakfast buffet.
Restaurant Pick: Kulturbrauerei was once a place for brewing beer and is now a complex that’s home to a variety of restaurants, clubs, a museum and a cinema. Within the complex, we dined at the intimate Frannz Club, which is a club, a restaurant, a beer garden and a lounge. It’s a lovely gem in this buzzy city.
Dessau, a small post-industrial city, is the destination most closely associated with the innovative Bauhaus movement. Here, it’s a Bauhaus feast for the eyes, as it’s home to the exquisite UNESCO-ranked Bauhaus Building, which opened in 1926 and became the icon of Classical Modernism. Visitors will be met with glass walls that create a “transparent facade,” projecting balconies, and a cubic building, and they’ll have the opportunity to walk through the dormitories that were once home to Bauhaus students. In fact, those interested in spending the night in one of the dorm rooms amongst the ghosts of Bauhaus past, have an opportunity to do so (40 euros per night sgl, or 55 euros dbl). It’s in this complex, too, where the famed experimental Bauhaus style of dancing—where students donned funky masks and danced in an eccentric style—flourished: It was a way for students to free their mind, search for adventure and take risks in front of others, thus freeing their creative inhibitions.
Dessau is also where visitors will be able to see the four Master’s Houses, which are located in a small pine-tree wood and are part of the UNESCO Bauhaus collection. These houses were home to the likes of Gropius, artist
Oskar Schlemmer, Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Gropius created the homes within the wooded setting and left them a stark white so that the trees’ playful shadows function as a design element.
Set to open in the city-center in fall 2019, the Bauhaus Museum Dessau will be home to architectural drawings, photos, graphics, paintings and stageworks, as well as objects from everyday life such as furniture, lamps and textiles. It will be the centerpiece of connectivity for the city’s many Bauhaus buildings, such as the UNESCO-ranked and must-visit Houses with Balcony Access and Employment Office.
Where to Stay: For Bauhaus aficionados, the best hotel pick is the cozy Hotel 7 Saulen, right across the street from the Master’s Houses. It’s a family-run property and quite charming, with cozy rooms and a delightful breakfast spot.
Restaurant Pick: A must is dinner at the Bauhaus-designed Kornhaus restaurant, overlooking the Elbe River. It features a semi-circular front building that’s closed in with a glass wall, making it ideal for those who want to take in a sunset over the riverscape.
This is where Bauhaus was born, and come 2019 it will be home to one of the world’s most comprehensive Bauhaus museums. This lovely, enchanting town, home to German writer Goethe, will be celebrating the centenary with parties, performances and exhibitions, as well as the opening of the bauhaus museum weimar. The latter will open on April 5 and will be home to a thematic presentation of the Bauhaus collection—it’s an expansive space with multiple floors that will have visitors in awe around every corner. This will undoubtedly be a must for any Bauhaus fan.
Weimar, too, is where one must take a detour to the Bauhaus University, where it all began, so to speak. Must-sees are the famous staircase by Henry van de Velde; Schlemmer paintings; and a replica of the Director’s Office designed by Walter Gropius in 1923.
Where to Stay: With stupendous views over rolling hills and the songs of chirping birds heard all around, the adorable Romantik Hotel Dorotheenhof Weimar is a top choice. Once owned by a cavalry captain, the property has a quirky vibe and lovely, inviting rooms. Recommend clients eat breakfast on the spacious summer terrace.
Restaurant Pick: The delightful Inn at 1915 serves Thuringia home-style cooking and is a great way to top off a day exploring Weimar.
Bauhaus Centenary: bauhaus100.de/en/bauhaus-100/occasion
German National Tourist Board: germany.travel
Hotel 7 Saulen: hotel-7-saeulen.de
Lindner Hotel Am Ku’damm: lindner.de/en
Romantik Hotel Dorotheenhof Weimar: wellnesshotel-weimar.de/en