The Grand Tour of Modernism takes shape

Photo: Hans Wagner, since 1911. Bauhaus-Archive Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

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Seven jurors from the fields of building culture, historic preservation, architecture, journalism, cultural education and tourism came together in January in the banquet room of the Goethe National Museum to select sites of modernism from all the German states to create a nationwide itinerary. The jury based its selections on the following criteria: The building or structure dates back to the 20th century, represents a special achievement of an important architect and, from a social point of view, strives to reform living environments. Additional factors in making the selection were technical innovation with regard to construction, materials and means of production, new building types (like large power stations, stadiums and civic halls) and the broader urban impact of the building in question.

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The UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Bauhaus and the other modernist World Heritage sites were included from the outset. From Saarland to Brandenburg, and from Lower Saxony to Baden-Württemberg, the entire country is home to architectural highlights from the first half of the 20th century to the present. The Grand Tour of Modernism will consolidate these sites of preeminent architecture into practical itineraries, making them accessible to visitors from around the world.

Included: Völklingen Ironworks, the only fully preserved blast-furnace complex from the golden age of industrialisation. The plant in the Saarland town of Völklingen underwent nearly 100 years of expansion until 1976, and in 1994 it was declared Germany’s first modernist UNESCO World Heritage site. And two other industrial complexes, the Zollverein Coal Mine in the North Rhine-Westphalian city of Essen (built 1930–1932) and the Rammelsberg Mine in Goslar, Lower Saxony (built 1936–1937), which are among the many works by architectural partners Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer.

Photo: Antje Horn
The jury for the “Grand Tour of Modernism” met in January 2018 in Weimar.

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In addition to Fritz Höger’s Chilehaus in Hamburg (built 1922–1924) and the Le Corbusier House on the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart, there are also numerous works by Bauhausler to be seen on the Grand Tour of Modernism: Walter Gropius’s innovative Fagus Factory (1911) in Alfeld, Lower Saxony, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2011, Georg Muche’s “Haus Am Horn” in Weimar, Thuringia (built as part of the Bauhaus exhibition of 1923, included in the World Heritage List since 1996), and Hannes Meyer’s ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau, Brandenburg.

Also World Heritage sites and part of the Grand Tour of Modernism: The main building of the Bauhaus University and the former School of Arts and Crafts in Weimar, both by Henry van de Velde, Bruno Taut’s Modernism Housing Estates in the capital city of Berlin (1925–1933, UNESCO since 2008), and of course Gropius’s legendary Bauhaus Building and the Masters’ Houses in Dessau, Saxony-Anhalt (built 1925–1926).

The Grand Tour of Modernism combines the sensuous experience of travel with the desire to discover and understand the past and the present. It will unite the selected places into an attractive itinerary that can be enjoyed by train, car or bicycle.