Houses with Balcony Access

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  • year of construction / construction time 1928 — 1930
  • architect Hannes Meyer

  • year of construction / construction time 1998

building typology

Also known as: Laubenganghäuser

The social reformist credo of Swiss architect and second Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer was simple: “Put the needs of the people before the needs of luxury”. In his Houses with Balcony Access (1929/30), he succeeded admirably in fulfilling his ambition to place social issues at the centre of the architecture and work at the Bauhaus. The ensemble is the first joint project undertaken by the Bauhaus building department, which had been created with Hannes Meyer as its first director. The Houses with Balcony Access have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2017.

In 1928, the City of Dessau commissioned the Bauhaus to expand the Dessau-Törten Estate. Five 3-storey apartment blocks were built, designed explicitly for workers and people with very low incomes. They have a total of 90 flats, which are accessed via the outdoor corridors in the form of extended balconies that give the buildings their name. These access galleries not only fulfilled Meyer’s principle of economic efficiency but also had an important social function: as communal balconies, they were intended to promote neighbourly communication and solidarity.

“Community” is also an important keyword in the history of the buildings’ development: they were designed and implemented collectively. In addition to Hannes Meyer, twelve Bauhaus students were involved, including Konrad Püschel and Philipp Tolziner.

The design clearly stands out from the neighbouring cubic white forms of Walter Gropius’s standardised houses. Unplastered brick was used for the façades of the Houses with Balcony Access. Light-coloured reinforced concrete bands above the rows of windows on the rear façade contrast with the red colour of the brick walls. The differentiated palette of materials and the colours of the window frames, which are partly made of wood and partly of steel, contribute to a varied appearance.

With a size of 47 square metres each, the three-room flats are small but are laid out to be highly efficient. The goal of saving space and costs was also factored in when fitting out the so-called Volkswohnungen, or “people’s flats”, with what was then very modern equipment, including central heating, a fitted kitchen and a bathroom with indoor toilet. To this day the houses remain fully inhabited. The buildings were refurbished in 1998 and it is now possible to visit a reconstructed model flat as part of a guided tour. [KM/DK]

Map

Map legend

  • UNESCO world heritage site

Contact and opening hours

Address

Laubenganghaus/Musterwohnung Peterholzstraße (Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau)
Peterholzstraße 40
06849 Dessau-Roßlau

Opening hours

  • Neujahr (01.01.) : closed
  • Heilige Drei Könige (06.01.) : closed
  • Heiligabend : closed
  • 1. Weihnachtstag : closed
  • 2. Weihnachtstag : closed
  • Silvester : closed

Objekt ist von außen frei zugänglich.
Führung durch das Objekt werden nach Absprache angeboten.

conveying formula

Directions by local public transport:

Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Bahnhof Dessau-Süd
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): Straßenbahn - Haltestelle Peterholzstraße ; Bus - Bauhauslinie 10, Haltestelle Laubenganghäuser

conveying formula

Die Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau ist eine gemeinnützige Stiftung des öffentlichen Rechts. Sie wird gefördert durch das Land Sachsen-Anhalt, die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM) und die Stadt Dessau-Roßlau.

Tillmann Franzen, tillmannfranzen.com
Houses with Balcony Access, Dessau-Roßlau
Stadtarchiv Dessau-Roßlau
Houses with Balcony Access, Dessau-Roßlau

This place is part of the tour:

Tour 1

Discover Bauhaus

Weimar, Erfurt, Jena, Gera, Dessau-Roßlau, Magdeburg, Elbingerode, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Berlin, Potsdam, Caputh und Bernau

Experience the beginnings of the Bauhaus in Weimar and admire its outstanding legacy, which spreads from Dessau-Roßlau to the striking residential buildings in Berlin.

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Tillmann Franzen, tillmannfranzen.com © Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau