The Bauhaus School in Dessau, Germany (photo via Flickr)

A century ago, the Bauhaus School in Weimar, Germany, emerged as a radical new model for design and architecture based on the integration of craft and fine art. The institution and accompanying movement’s legacy on Modernism is impossible to overstate, leaving its imprint on everything from functional objects and industrial manufacturing to academic theory and arts education.

Now, the European Union (EU) is looking to the ever-yielding Bauhaus as inspiration for a new, climate-neutral architecture as part of its coronavirus recovery plans. In her state of the union speech last week, European Commission (EC) president Ursula von der Leyen said sustainable construction was “not just an environmental or economic project,” but “a new cultural project for Europe.”

“This is why we will set up a new European Bauhaus — a co-creation space where architects, artists, students, engineers, designers work together to make that happen,” said von der Leyen.

The remarks were in the context of NextGeneration EU, the commission’s €750 billion (~$872 billion) recovery fund to help the continent’s pandemic-stricken economy. The fund proposal also includes a European Green Deal, a blueprint for the EU to become carbon neutral by 2050 by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and investing in green technology and infrastructure.

The construction of energy-efficient buildings is a key step to achieving those targets, von der Leyen said. While she did not offer details on the role of Bauhaus to that end, von der Leyen appeared to suggest that the movement’s pairing of form and function, as well as the collaborative, think tank-style approach of its school, could be applied to streamline a more sustainable architecture.

“Every movement has its own look and feel,” the EC president continued. “And we need to give our systemic change its own distinct aesthetic — to match style with sustainability.”

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Valentina Di Liscia

Valentina Di Liscia is Co-Editor of News at Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...