BAUHAUS MUSEUM COMPETITION
Taking the visual and physical porosity of the park within which the new Bauhaus Museum is to be located as a starting point for the design, the proposal seeks to introduce a building that will maintain and further enhance this key quality. At the heart of the proposal is a new public square – an urban gesture that affords amenity to not only the visitors of the Museum but also to the city of Dessau. This square sits on axis with Ratsgasse and serves to reinforce the connection between the existing square at the eastern end of Ratsgasse and the park. In this sense the square is seen as a threshold between the city and the park, whilst simultaneously acting as the entry threshold to the Museum. The square however also functions as a gathering space during memorials (with the relocated ODF Memorial siting adjacent), and during exhibition openings or Museum events, with the key spaces of the Museum addressing the square and opening directly onto it. Further open spaces of a smaller scale allow for group access and function as spill out space for the staff of the Museum.
As a form, the new Museum has been approached with the sense of creating a pavilion in the park – a sensitively inserted low-rise building permeated by public spaces. The low-rise nature of the new Museum, which is reinforced by the continuous datum of the roof, however, also makes a reference to the ground storeys of the buildings bordering the park, in particular the post office. The ground storeys of these buildings are notable for their distinction from the subsequent storeys above, in terms of their scale and public nature. The new Museum can then be understood as a building that attempts to slot itself into this public layer of the city.
In order to achieve the above quality of porosity in the context of a Museum, the exhibition spaces take the form of individual concrete volumes that allow for the careful management of daylight. Each Topos has been designed as a cellular space which has the flexibility of functioning either independently or being interconnected to make larger spaces, allowing for flexibility and creativity in the exhibition design. The individual spaces take on a formal and material expression which contrasts with the scalloped glass walls and is able to be read from both inside the Museum and the street. The spaces through their generous volumes create a point of difference to the remainder of the Museum and the corridors running along the grid lines. A similar treatment is also afforded to the temporary exhibition spaces, as well as critical parts of the program such as the foyer, events and workshop spaces. In this way, the events and workshop spaces have the ability to function as exhibition spaces if necessary.
The Bauhaus boasts a legacy of progressive advancement of design and architecture practice and education and the proposed museum building seeks to carry forward this legacy by providing a spatial framework within which curators may experiment with the display of the collection of historical Bauhaus artefacts. Rather than a neutral ‘white box’ approach, the galleries take the form and character of warehouse or studio spaces that have been co-opted for exhibition purposes, and therefore encourage creative engagement between the museum collection, visitors and the space itself. Spatial layers are carefully controlled to allow for the protection of sensitive artefacts on the one hand, but also allow the building to open up and display its inner workings to the public – an important aspect that will enhance the educational ambitions of the institution.