This was a genuine thrill. I had booked to stay a night at the Bauhaus in Dessau, not quite knowing what to expect. The cost of the room for one night was very reasonable, although the picture on the website indicated that it might be somewhat… spartan. But, that was just what I wanted. For me, the essence of the Bauhaus was minimalism; I wanted clear straight lines, simple geometric forms; no sentimentality.
The instructions I received with my booking informed me that I could collect my room key from an administration room in the main Bauhaus complex. Here I was met by a kindly gentleman who, along with my key, gave me directions to both my room and the breakfast café. He also took great pains to stress to be careful if I stood on the balcony. Balcony? My heart leapt. It couldn’t be…?
I began to follow the directions to my room, thought I could take a short cut, discovered I couldn’t, found myself hopelessly lost. Thankfully, the kindly gentleman was leaning out of his window, anticipating this event. With a friendly wave and a pointed finger, he soon had me back on the right track.
The guestrooms for the Bauhaus are in the original student block, dating from the mid-1920s. My room was on the third floor, up a bare concrete staircase, devoid of ornamentation. Along a corridor, past the toilet and showers, the last door on the left. On the left. It was all-important.
I opened the door to my room, and I couldn’t have been more delighted. The room was actually much larger than I had anticipated; as former student rooms go, it was positively palatial. It was decorated simply, but perfectly comfortably, and had a large window, with a beautiful view looking out towards Dessau itself. And it had a balcony. Rooms on the left side of the corridor have a balcony; those on the right do not.
And why this obsession with the balcony? Because it was a black and white photograph of the iconic Bauhaus balconies by László Moholy-Nagy, which got me fascinated by the Bauhaus and the School of Art, Design and Architecture, which is based there, in the first place.
But, I could see why the kindly gentleman had warned me to be careful about the balcony. Despite the fact that the Bauhaus has been restored and renovated, some aspects of the classic modernist design would not necessarily pass current-day stringent health and safety checks. The balconies were devastatingly beautiful to look at; slightly perilous to stand on with their low hand-rails.
I spent my entire time at the Bauhaus in a state of blissful enthrallment. Every smallest detail from door handle to sink plug to floor tile appeared iconic to me.
Outside the building, it was amusing to watch the modern generation of students who currently study there nonchalantly chatting, locking up their bicycles, rushing to grab a bite to eat in the café. Doing all the humdrum things that students at any college or university around the world do. For them, the building was ordinary, just part of their everyday world of study and life. Just how it should be; just what the Bauhaus stands for: uncomplicated; functional; utilitarian.
© E. C. Glendenny
E. C. Glendenny cannot recommend staying a night (or two) at the Bauhaus highly enough.