Bauhaus Bus Embarks on World Tour to Explore a Global Legacy
The Bauhaus School in Dessau, Germany has been transformed into a mobile home with a mission: to spread the gospel of its design philosophy worldwide.
But this tiny house also has a twist. The Berlin-based collective Savvy Contemporary, which spearheaded the project, hopes its “Trojan horse” creation will encourage visitors to “unlearn” colonial attitudes toward modernity as they study the art movement’s important place in history, as well as teach and transfer knowledge.
A global enterprise, “SPINNING TRIANGLE,” which the initiative’s official title, will travel across the world from Dessau to Berlin and onward to Kinshasa to Hong Kong. The collective behind the project hopes to evolve the public’s understanding of Bauhaus design outside of its Eurocentric context. It’s as much a tribute to the UNESCO Global Heritage Site as it is a reinterpretation of the group’s legacy.
The project’s detailed concept page quotes critical darlings like Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin in framing their Bauhaus bus as an exploration of contemporary life through the lens of Walter Gropius’ 1919 avant-garde design experiment. If modern design has since neglected such innovative thinking, then Savvy Contemporary hopes to expand on “border voices” that are often ignored or rarely presented in their own terms within the architectural community.
Designed by Berlin-based architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel, the 15-square-meter “wohnmaschine” is a miniature clone of the Dessau Bauhaus building’s workshop wing. Inside the structure is an elaborate interior for staging exhibitions and workshops that will pull visitors into what the collective calls an “academy of the fireside” where people can “face the relations of coloniality and design.” The mobile unit will also include a small library with books charting Bauhaus history.
Crucially, Savvy Contemporary hopes its Bauhaus simulation design will foment a new type of “school,” or even an “unschool” capable of reconfiguring how people learn. “Design has power. It creates our environments, our interactions, our being in the world,” the collective said in a statement. “For too long, practices and narratives from the global south have been kept at the periphery of the design discourse, been ignored altogether, or appropriated. This needs to change.”
The installation has already begun in Dessau and will stay there until January 22. Between January 24–27, it will travel to Berlin to coincide with the Bauhaus centenary festival, 100 Years Bauhaus, before traveling to Kinshasa for workshops between April 4–12. Five representatives from the workshops in Kinshasa will travel back to Berlin to share their research with 40 students at Savvy Contemporary’s headquarters from July 22 to August 18 before the school arrives at Hong Kong’s Para Site art space, where the group will conduct more research. The program is directed and curated by Elsa Westreicher and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung.
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