Gropius before the Bauhaus : Faguswerk

Photo Catherine Gras

Walter Gropius was the first director of the Bauhaus school from Weimar to Dessau from 1919 to 1928. In addition to his role as director, he had a considerable influence on the architectural style of the Bauhaus.

But even before the Bauhaus was founded, before the First World War, he designed highly modern industrial buildings with Adolf Meyer for the company Fagus.

The company manufactured shoe lasts and its owner, Carl Benscheidt, had its premises built in the town of Alfeld, about 50km south of Hanover.

He initially entrusted the project to Eduard Werner, an architect who had been involved in the construction of a factory just across a railway line: Behrens. Carl Benscheidt worked for this company before setting up his own.

The architect’s proposal, in the style of the time like Behrens, did not suit him and he entrusted Walter Gropius and Adold Meyer with the task of improving it. He wanted his buildings to be an advertisement for his company, especially as the railway line ran right next to it, so that the factory could be seen perfectly from the train.

Some of the buildings have remained very close to the original design:

But for the rest, the proposal of the two architects is very modern, even before the First World War! Glass facades, light structures … which we will find in the works of these two architects in the years and decades that follow. The various buildings were built between 1911 and 1925.

The buildings must be beautiful and offer “modern” working conditions to the employees, the interior is very bright like this staircase which distributes on the various workshops:

A sense of detail … Bauhaus architects were keen to keep costs down, but this did not prevent them from thinking about the details. The Fagus logo itself was designed by the Bauhaus.

This site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been extensively renovated over the last ten years. You can visit the site and I can’t recommend it enough to all fans of modern architecture!

If you like the Bauhaus, here are some posts on this movement in Germany, you will find others on the site by searching on this keyword:

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