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Otto Bartning

Darmstadt, Germany
1 of 4

Otto Bartning (April 12th, 1883 - February 20th, 1959) was a Modernist German architect, architectural theorist and teacher. He was a member of Der Ring. In 1951 he was elected president of the Federation of German Architects.

Bartning became known as an early reformer of art and design education after the First World War together with Walter Gropius. In 1918, he planned with Gropius the concept and contributed to the programme for the Bauhaus. He influenced Gropius' 1919 avant-guard Bauhaus manifesto with its workshop principles and openness to the latest international influences. His ideas for the Bauhochschule in 1926 were developments on the same theme.

The Other Bauhaus

Following the closure of the Bauhaus, the government of Thuringia invited Otto Bartning to become director of a replacement school in Weimar, the Staatliche Bauhochschule, located in the Henry van de Velde building. The new school, often known as "The Other Bauhaus", sought to combine traditional academic teaching methods with those of the Bauhaus in an attempt to integrate craft and design. However, the original Bauhaus was more modernist in approach, while the new school was more pragmatic and craft based. Students were encouraged to participate in real projects and to market their designs commercially. In 1927, for example, the weaving department produced material for the German Pavilion at the Milan Fair, designed by Otto Bartning's architectural office.

Der Ring

From 1929 to 1931, Bartning was one of six leading modernist architects and members of Der Ring to contribute to the Siemensstadt housing project. And in 1932 Bartning published his influential scheme for the interior of a prefabricated house. Bartning's attempt to steer a rational middle way failed with the increasing politicisation of the arts in the thirties. His writings in the magazine Die Volkswohnungen ('People's Housing') appear among polemics advocating land reform and a craft-based self-sufficient Germany.

In 1930, shortly after a National Socialist and conservative government coalition won power in Thuringia, Bartning resigned. Many of the 14 professors and lecturers at The Other Bauhaus continued their careers in Germany during the war; for example Ernst Neufert worked under Albert Speer and went on to enjoy international success after the war. Bartning retreated into church architecture between 1933 and 1948, and was later awarded honorary doctorates, including RIBA honorary membership, and held important posts as architect and advisor.

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Darmstadt, Germany
ludmilla, April 6th, 2017
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