Living Machines by E. Michael Jones

10:50 AM

Farnsworth House (Illinois) - designed by Mies van der Rohe

"Architecture has for its first duty, in this period of renewal, that of bringing about a revision of values, a revision of the constituent elements of the house." - Le Corbusier

I don't know why but I have this interest on Bauhaus architecture. Maybe it's because the Bauhaus is not only architecture it's also social engineering. More precisely, as the book Living Machines - Bauhaus Architecture as sexual ideology by E. Michael Jones puts it, Bauhaus "embodied a new way of living in conscious revolution against traditional values".1

This book has a very interesting and reader friendly structure: it alternates between one chapter concerning  Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius' life and ideas and a chapter examining the buildings with the Bauhaus style. The conclusion is that all these buildings brought more misery than functionality to their residents. 

People living in different places like the Projects in Chicago, worker's houses in Poland or students dorms in Harvard University all experienced similar problems. A sense of isolation, imprisonment, despair and godlessness is produced by modern architecture. Not to mention problems such as alcoholism, drug abuse, violence and the destruction of families.

The same consequences happening to people in such different cities allows no space for doubts: it was intentional, it was social engineering.

Gropius was using architecture as a means for a cultural revolution. He wanted - in his own words - " to take part in a new community which is going to create the new Man in a new environment". 2

When someone starts talking about creating a new man - beware.

What do you think of the Bauhaus style of architecture? Do you see influences of it in your own city?

Image via Wikipedia

1 and 2: Jones, Living Machines, p. 82

PS: If you're interested in this subject, I also recommend Architecture of the Absurd by John Silber.

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  1. I really don't know if it's "Bauhaus" oriented, but I see more and more "homes" (as we call it, 'edifícios')with smaller and smaller windows. The apartment where I live has big windows, but the newer ones have such small windows I feel breathless to see them. We live in a tropical country, it's hot most part of the year and we need every bit of breeze. Indeed, this "Bauhaus" is designed to make everybody crazy. And each time I hear this "creating a new man", and "creating a new world", I draw my gun - even if I don't have one ...

  2. Windows are usually a tricky item. Sometimes they are little ones, like you mentioned, other times they are whole glass walls that allow no privacy. Gropius had this idea that clarity was very important, therefore windows played an important role in his designs. xx Paula


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