Design the World – Keeping Up With the Bauhaus, BArch studio

Design the World – Keeping Up With the Bauhaus is a BArch5 History I Theory I Criticism studio at the Institute for Art and Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, taught by Angelika Schnell, Achim Reese and Antje Lehn, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, Werner Skvara in winter 2015/16.

»Erziehen ist eine verwegene Sache …«
Johannes Itten

The Bauhaus is an undeniably important part of modern architecture’s history – its utopian program, its aesthetic principles, its pedagogy and many of its teachers and students molded our understanding of modern universal design. There the idea was born of the individual student as a free and gifted independent personality, he or she should not be suppressed by imitating the »Master« dully and mechanically but encouraged to find their own way, the primary role of the teacher was to light the students’ spiritual fire. This is the great legacy of the Bauhaus and is still the basis for every modern arts and architecture education.

The core of this idea was the foundation course or Vorkurs which became the most influential outcome of the Bauhaus program. Having started as a preliminary course it quickly became the compulsive two-semester one that established the Bauhaus’ reputation. Altogether the Bauhaus had three (four) Vorkurs teachers: Johannes Itten (together with Georg Muche), Lázló Moholy-Nagy and Josef Albers. They all had different ideas on how to teach the fundamental principles of forms, materials and light but they all agreed that these principles existed and that they could be intuitively understood.

At the Institute for Art and Architecture – IKA we too understand the first semesters as being those where new students learn the basic principles of materials, of forms, and light while our methods and ideology regarding intuition and talent have evolved. In order to investigate this further we propose that it would be a worthwhile pedagogical experiment to connect the studios of the first semester and fifth semester, and consequently the role of intuition at different stages of the educational process. On the one hand, both studios will examine the basic ideas of the Bauhaus, on the other hand they also will elaborate their differences to our contemporary understanding of the »fundamentals« (Rem Koolhaas) of architecture. This process both re-tells critically the history of one of the most influential architecture schools of the 20th century and contributes a contemporary pedagogical experiment by vertically linking two different semester-groups of students. The two studio groups will work on separate studio briefs with some intersections which allow the first semester students to repeatedly reflect on their work and the fifth semester students to recall their own intuitive design skills.