Lonely Planet Writer

Bauhaus bus travels the world to celebrate school's 100th anniversary with a 'critical twist'

This January marks the centennial of the Bauhaus, the fabled art and design school founded by German architect Walter Gropius. To celebrate the milestone birthday, a bus modelled on the school’s historic workshop in Dessau is embarking on an international tour.

‘Wohnmaschine’ will embark on a 10-month-long tour. Image by Tinyhouse University

The revolutionary ideas born from the modernist movement, where function trumped decoration, is being celebrated on board a bus. Designed by Berlin-based Van Bo Le-Mentzel, the 161-square-foot bus, dubbed ‘Wohnmaschine’ (‘living machine’ in German), is an apartment, exhibition, workshop and library on wheels that’s joining Bauhaus’ centennial celebrations with a “critical twist”.

Modelled on the iconic Dessau workshop building, famous for its glass curtain walls, the bus is taking to the streets with a 10-month-long tour, which kicked off in Dessau on 4 January and will travel to Berlin, where the Bauhaus-Archiv is located, before visiting Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Hong Kong.

The bus will join Bauhaus’ centennial celebrations “with a critical twist.” Image by Tinyhouse University

Over the tour, design collective Savvy Contemporary (the group in charge of the project) will host a series of workshops and panels inside the bus with a goal to challenge and “unlearn” colonial attitudes towards modernity and neocolonial power structures in design. Curated by Elsa Westreicher, the events will discuss topics such as state violence and structural racism and how they intersect with design.

“We are theoretically and practically looking into the role design can and has to play within these social and political realities,” a Savvy Contemporary spokesperson told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Wohnmaschine will challenge colonial attitudes toward design. Image by Savvy Contemporary

“The project aims at working, through design questions, as concretely within social and political realities that are informed and shaped by history and the current political status quo,” Savvy added. “Ultimately, the aim is to reverse and reshape the notion and manifestation of the Bauhaus school and to create a new school of design.”

By travelling to Dessau, Kinshasa, Berlin and Hong Kong Savvy hopes to challenge the cities’ “prescribed roles as idea provider, raw material supplier and champion of production.”

The bus is modelled on the iconic Bauhaus workshop in Dessau. Image by Mirko Mielke

The project called Spinning Triangles is in Dessau between 4 and 22 January; Berlin from 24 until 27 January; Kinshasa between 4 and 12 April; Berlin again between 22 July and 18 August and in Hong Kong between 8 and 10 October.

Wohnmaschine will travel to Dessau, Kinshasa, Berlin and Hong Kong. Image by Tinyhouse University

The bus tour coincides with Bauhaus 100, year-long celebration of the legendary design school that will feature events in Germany and in countries like Brazil, Russia, Japan, the US and more.

What is Bauhaus

Bauhaus was a school of modernist design that became one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century. While the Bauhaus School in Germany was only active for 14 years, its emphasis on functional design and modern architecture sparked innovative works in architecture, design, dance, theatre and more. With three campuses in Germany, the school was founded in Weimar in 1919 by Walter Gropius, developed further in Dessau, but was suppressed by the Nazis in Berlin in 1933.