Product Idea

Preller Building at the Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau

Preller Building, Bauhaus Foundation, Dessau, Germany

The Building

The Preller Building ('Prellerhaus') is part of the Bauhaus Foundation building complex at Dessau in Germany.  It was completed in 1926 and is named after Friedrich Preller.

The five-storey building contains 28 studio flats, each of about 24 m², originally let to  for junior masters and promising students of the Bauhaus school of design.

The building is of a strikingly 'modern' cubiform design in a monochromatic colour scheme of white and grey, clean lines but not harsh with pleasant proportions.  Striking features are the regular pattern of windows, prominent individual balconies forming a regular pattern on the east wall, long balconies on the south wall that continue around the corner of the building, and the flat roofline completing the regular shape of the building especially when seen from the ground.

The building connects to the rest of the Bauhaus Foundation which is equally modern in design but the Prellerhaus is a very distinctive and unique feature of the complex.

The building is basically cuboid although not an exact cube, and is beautifully proportioned, but it is not completely regular, as it is attached to another part of the school and has different features on each side.  The west face with its connection to the cafeteria is not as symmetrical as the east face with the balconies, although that is not completely regular either, and the features of each face make for an interesting building.

Although it's a listed building, the flats have now been renovated and are let out to visitors, so you can actually visit, use and stay in the building; staying in a studio gives you an experience of living in the building in the 1920s.

The model

I decided to limit this model to the Prellerhaus instead of the whole school in order to make a manageable study in Lego and a modest-sized model.

When reconstructing the building I realised how the designers had met some of the architectural and practical requirements of the building, such as a toilet block on each floor, access points, ventilation, and connection to the rest of the school, and I have included these features in the model.

Although I haven’t modelled the rest of the school (other people have done this in a smaller scale) I wanted to make it extendable so that the rest of the school building could be attached, so within the footprint of the model I have included the connection to the cafeteria and the start of the cafeteria terrace on the south side of the building.

Some features were difficult to model in the scale, but I've tried to represent all the visible features including the individual and wrap-around balconies, the toilet and facilities block on one corner of each floor, the flat roof with its solid balustrade, access point and canopy, the grey plinth, the access door at the back with light above, the vents in the building on the east and north walls, and the connection with the canteen and its outside terrace..  In the end I used a small amount of SNOT for the corner containing the visually prominent circular black vents in the east wall.

I hope that the model represents the proportions and spirit of the building without too many compromises.

Construction

My original versions of the model explored the structure of the building (from photographs) and allowed me to experiment with the proportions in a Lego representation, modelling the correct number and position of windows. balconies etc., and trying to understand its dimensions and layout.

As I explored the construction of the building I discovered features that are practical if not so aesthetic, such as the access points (stairs at the back and side) and the smaller windows for the utility areas, which I could not model in proportion with transparent bricks and so represented with bricks with an indent.

I have tried as much as possible to keep the clean lines of the building and reduce the amount of studs showing in the construction; in the end there are very few.

After the sixth version of the model I looked again at the building and realised that its design followed the bauhaus principles of modular construction and with repetition of common elements (these principles were applied to other real buildings by the bauhaus designers).

So I started again with my model and formulated it around a number of ‘modules’, which really simplified and clarified the model construction.  These ‘modules’ (see picture) included the internal floors and room dividers as well, and provide a really strong structure for the building, which is probably more representative of the real building construction.

It was difficult to get accurate pictures of the roof although I did find some, and as this is likely to be the viewpoint of the viewer I paid some attention to representing the roof as accurately as I could.  The roof includes an access door at the top of the stairwell and an upstand all round it which gives a very clean line to the top of the building when seen from the ground, and also makes the roof into a safe and useable space. There is a shelter on the roof so I'm not sure whether this was, or is accessible to the occupants of the building but would make a great space for a drinks party!

Although the window frames are black I didn’t want completely black windows as I wanted to get the effect of the glass in the windows, and, since the model now in effect includes the internal construction of the studio flats, I wanted to provide some transparency. I tried various different options but in the end decided on the use of transparent brown bricks for window glass. I think if Lego did a transparent 'grey' brick it would look slightly better.

The real balconies have metal railings but I couldn't represent these properly at this scale, however the use of transparent bricks provides similar reflections from the edges and so gives a reasonably representative feel to the model.

I could have used a lot fewer bricks if I had wanted to get the brick count down or change the proportions. But, for example, I particularly like the representation of the cafeteria windows by four stacked small transparent plates, because the real windows have four panes stacked vertically.  In total including the base the model uses 608 bricks.

I learned a lot about the Bauhaus and about the design of this building from making this model. 

If you are interested in finding out more about the building, please follow the links below:

http://www.archdaily.com/87728/ad-classics-dessau-bauhaus-walter-gropius

or, to see more pictures and find out what it's like inside, see

http://www.bauhaus-dessau.de/accommodation-inside-the-studio-building.html

I hope you enjoy the model. Thank you very much for visiting this project.