The Steel House, which stands right next to House Fieger, was commissioned by the municipality of Dessau and built during the first phase of the construction of the Torten Estate. It was completed in spring 1927. Georg Muche, Master of Painting at the Bauhaus designed the house together with the young architect Richard Paulick.Most of the time it was claimed that one could not see that the house was made of steel. Muche and Paulick, however, found that it all came down to the visibility of this material, desiring a congruency of industrial manufacture and the corresponding formal language.
The original idea to construct an expandable house which can grow with the family size had to be abandoned because the building costs proved to be too high. The building is a steel plate construction, consisting of a steel skeleton load bearing structure with 3 mm thick steel plates mounted onto the outer walls. The house has no basement. Today, the house, which has been renovated according to its historic importance, is used as an information centre for the Torten Estate.
The outward appearance is defined by two differently sized cubes pushed together resulting, as with the Haus Am Horn in Weimar, in rooms of different heights. The ceilings of the living room and one of the bedrooms are higher. Here, however, there are no skylights. The doors in the lower areas are room-high, as are the windows. At nearly 90 m2, the living area exceeds that of Gropius's estate houses. Muche later also designed colour variants for his metal prototype houses; the Steel House in Dessau is, in contrast, designed in grey, white and black.
House as a Model
Due to a lack of research funding, the house planned originally - a model that could potentially be extended - was replaced by a non-variable house. The Steel House also remained the only building of its kind in Dessau. Gropius criticised above all the limited possibilities provided by the metal and gave preference to the steel skeleton construction method with concrete outer walls. He did, however, support the construction of the detached house. Under the directorate of Hannes Meyer, Philipp Tolziner developed plans to extend the Torten Estate with steel houses. This plan failed, arguably because of Hannes Meyer's dismissal.
Inhabited into the 1990s, in 1993 the Steel House was restored in line with monumental preservation regulations. Since 2001, it has been used by the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation as an information centre for the Dessau-Torten Estate and can be visited with a guided tour.