Bauhaus, Brown coal and Iron Giants

Bauhaus, Lignite (Brown coal) and the iron giants of Ferropolis.
The Bauhaus in Dessau and the preservation of industrial monuments
The Bauhaus in Dessau in Germany is an icon of the modern architecture and modern design. Already in 1933 Bauhaus was closed by the Nazi’s. In the GDR, the Bauhaus was re-established later. Less known is that the Bauhaus also fulfilled an important role in the preservation of industrial heritage.
In the summer of 2008 I visited the area around the German city of Dessau in Saxony-Anhalt. I visited again Ferropolis. After the Expo 2000 in Hannover, I visited Ferropolis for the first time.
In this story I tell something about Bauhaus and the development of the “iron city” Ferropolis.
The Bauhaus started in 1919 as a school for architects, artists and craftsmen. The origins of the Bauhaus are rooted in the work of the Englishman William Morris who started in 1861 a reform movement, the Arts and Crafts Movement. He fought against the uniformity of industrial products and adored the medieval craftsmen. Morris was a pioneer of the Jugendstil. His work was also imitated in Germany, for example in the Dresdener Werkstätte. In 1907 the Belgian Henry van der Velde founded a crafts school in Weimar, the Grossherzogliche Kunstgewerbeschule. In 1907 in Munich was founded the German Werkbund for "Veredelung gewerblichen der Arbeit.” (German society for the refinement of the crafts). A key participant was the architect Walter Gropius who felt that in his time the construction of industrial buildings was the major challenge. In the first worldwar, the Belgian van der Velde ceded his place to the German Walter Gropius. He merged the Großherzoglich-Sächsiche Hochschule für Bildende Kunst, (The Grand-Ducal Art College) with the craft school into the Staatliches Bauhaus Weimar. The Bauhaus got a utopian program. The school should serve as a workshop for crossing all the boundaries between disciplines between arts and crafts. Manong the tTeachers were the artists Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Muche and Oskar Schlemmer. In the time of defeatism in Germany, the big loser of the Great War, the idealism of the Bauhaus was a boost.
The school was a focal point for developments in modern art. There were many links with the Russian school of art Vkhutemas which was founded in 1920 in Moscow. The Russian constructivist, architect, photographer and publicist Lazar Markovich Lissitzky visited the Bauhaus. Like the Dutch painter Theo van Doesburg, who introduced the artistic views of the artist group "De Stijl".
In 1925 Bauhaus moved to a building in Dessau that was designed by Walter Gropius. New courses there were advertising techniques, photography, typography and exhibition arranging. In 1923 there was a famous Bauhaus exhibition. There was a model house with the modern kitchen. Gropius lectured about the relationship between art and technology. The Dutch architect Oud spoke of modern Dutch architecture. In 1928 Hannes Meyer became director. Gropius wanted the Dutchman Mart Stam from Purmerend as director. In 1930 Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became director. Under pressure from the National Socialism the Bauhaus left Dessau for Berlin. The Nazis found it un-German architecture. In 1933, the school was closed. Bauhaus teachers and students went all over Europe, but especially to the United States. In 1937 the New Bauhaus was founded in Chicago. For decades the ideas of the staff of the Bauhaus were very influential in the development of American architecture and design. Tel Aviv is now on the Unesco World Heritage list because there are 4000 buildings in the Bauhaus style, which was from 1933 the local dominant architecture style. In the Netherlands Roelofsz Charles Paul Citroen founded the new Art School. It was inspired by the ideas of the people of the Bauhaus. Important advocates in the Netherlands were Sandberg, the director of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Mart Stam, director of the Rietveld Academy and the Graphic designer Piet Zwart.
Bauhaus after Bauhaus
After the Second World War people in Ulm tried to re-establish Bauhaus. It failed. In 1960 Darmstadt people started to collect the Bauhaus archives. In 1971 it was transferred to Berlin, where in 1979 a new building for the Bauhaus Archiv museum was opened. The building was designed by Walter Gropius.
After 1932 the building of the Bauhaus in Dessau was used as a girls' school, a training center for Nazi bosses, a part of the Junker airplane factories and a home for a construction office of Nazi armaments minster Albert Speer. On 7 March 1945 the building was partly destroyed during an air raid. After the second world war Dessau was in the Russian occupation zone. In 1946 the city tried without success to establish a new academy for design to start. Between 1946 and 1948 the Bauhaus building was provisionally restored. In 1961 followed by a further provisional restoration. In 1964 the building was declared a provisional monument of the province of Halle. In 1965 further restoration took place. In 1974 the building was officially a cultural monument of the GDR. For the 50th anniversary in 1976 the building was restored to its former state as much as possible. In 1984 a regional training was established in the Bauhaus building. During the 60th anniversary in 1986, a design center was created. In November 1989, when the Berlin wall fell, there was in the second Bauhaus Walter Gropius seminar. There the idea of the Industrielles Garten Reich, an industrial garden realm, was brought up. In 1994 the building was brought into a foundation that had an archival collection of Bauhaus and managed a workshop and an academy. In 1996 the building came on the UNESCO list of world heritage. In 1999 a college was established in the Bauhaus building.
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From princely retreat to environmental catastrophe
East of Dessau, along the river Elbe, lies the landscape Dessau-Wörlitz. Prince Johan George II of Anhalt-Dessau, who was married to Henriette Catharina of Orange-Nassau, built a country house. His wife was a daughter of Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange-Nassau, himself a son of William of Orange. The country house in Wörlitz was based on the seventeenth-century Dutch houses gardens, such as Honselaarsdijk, the palace of Prince Frederik Hendrik. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Leopold III Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau changed the baroque gardens in English landscape gardens. The ideas of Rousseau played an important role in the creation of those gardens. Around 1900 culturally speaking the whole area was, culturally speaking was in decline.
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There was a strong industrial development. In Bitterfeld many sugar mills were established. The electrochemistry came to the area. In Halle potassium salt was mined and large lignite fields produced fuel for electric energy. In Bitterfeld in 1893 two electrochemical companies were founded. Chlorine was a major product. The AEG was one of the founders of these companies. The AEG of Emil Rathenau was a large German trust which sold products, based on the patents of Edison, on the German market. His famous son, Walter Rathenau , was manager in Bitterfeld. Many chemical companies arose around Bitterfeld. In Wolffen AFGA was established which made the first photographic color film. In 1925 Agfa became part of the IG Farben chemical trust. They made chemical components for plastics manufacturers. In Bitterfeld, the mustard gas from the Great War and holocaust murder gas Zyklon B were manufactured. There was also a plant for the production of synthetic fuel for the German army. In the time of the GDR there was forced industrialization in the area. Lignite was the main source of energy. In 1986, the annual production amounted to 311 million tons. It led to a massive air and soil pollution. The area between Halle, Bitterfeld, Dessau and Wittenberg was probably the most polluted in Europe. Lignite mining is now largely ceased, but there is still an important modern chemical industry.
Industrielles Garten Reich Dessau / Anhalt - Bitterfeld - Wittenberg
In the GDR the re-established Bauhaus in Dessa had a "fools freedom”. That is to say that it was not taken seriously. The central theme on second Walter Gropius, which coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, was the failure of the urban concept of the East Block. East Block cities, which consisted mainly of large prefab flats, Plattenbau, did not fit in the cultural concept “city”.
Dessau was seen as a case study.
The invitation of the symposium was: "The 100-year phase of planning for modern extensive development (urban growth), which is now drawing to a close, and the emerging transition to intensification (Redevelopment of inner-city areas) require a fundamental Reassessment and réorientation or planning of the city as a whole and of its center. "
There were many committees and many plans. A central idea was to show the history of the area around Dessau to make it a showcase for a post-industrial urban area.
As a result the area around the Stately Homes and gardens in Dessau Wörlitz were restored.
Another example project was Ferropolis, the “iron city”.
The history of Iron Giants
Lignite excavators are among the largest moving structures mankind has ever made. They are even larger than the moving platforms for the rockets to the moon at Cape Carnival. These transporters (NASA crawlers) are derived from large excavators. [8] [9]
In the United States primitive steam excavators were already in use around 1840. But the real beginning of steam excavator was in England in 1874 with the steam navvy of Ruston & Proctor. This was used in large numbers around 1890 in the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. In the USA the Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company was founded in 1880 in the state of Ohio. Their products includes steam shovels and draglines. In 1893 the company moved to South Milwaukee in the state of Wisconsin. The company built many excavators for mining. Especially for strip mining and opencast mining. In 1927 the company merged with the Erie steam shovel company. In 1930 it formed together with Ruston & Hornsby (the successor of Ruston & Proctor) the Ruston Bucyrus company. In 1997 it took over the largest competitor, the Marion Power Shovel. This company was founded in 1884 in Marion in the state of Ohio. It built large series of steam excavators for contractors, railways and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The latter organization built the Panama Canal, after the failed attempt by the Lesseps. In the construction of the Panama Canal 102 steam excavators were used, 77 built by Bucyrus and the rest by Marion. The Marion Power Shovel Company built huge excavators for coal strip mining. In 1965 Marion 6360 was built for the Captain Mine in Illinois. The bucket of this shovel excavator had a capacity of 138 m³, the seize of a small family home. The weight of the whole colossus was reported as 15000 tons. It is now demolished. In 1965 the Marion Power Shovel Company built the NASA crawlers, still in use in the Space Shuttle program for NASA. This platform cars weigh 2400 tonnes. Many mining companies in the USA, Canada, China and Australia use huge draglines and shovels, of many thousands of tons of weight. The USA one of the giants is kept as a museum and in Canada there are built a museum piece. The largest brown coal excavator in operation, can be found in the brown coal opencast mining Garzweiler concession of RWE (Rheinbraun) just across the Dutch border near Mönch-Gladbach. That is "Bagger 288" with a weight of 14,000 tonnes. The length of the colossus is 220 meters and its height 96 meters.
In the former East Germany, most lignite concessions closed. Many lignite excavators are demolished. It is extraordinary that in Ferropolis five of these huge machines are stored. The lignite concession Golpa-Nord was closed in 1958. In 1991 the rehabilitation of the heavy polluted area started. The landscape was redesigned. In the context of preparations for the EXPO2000 in 1995 Ferropolis was a designated project. In 2000, a part of the excavated area was put under water. On a peninsula in the new artificial lake 5 large lignite excavators were placed in half a circle. Between them an open air theater was formed. The inaugural concert was arranged by Mikis Theodorakis. Since then, a large number of pop bands had concerts there. The rehabilitation of the landscape is still going on. In 2006, Ferropolis was included in the European Route of Industrial Heritage. The lignite excavators in Ferropolis have been given nicknames. "Mad Max" weighs 1250 tons. The height is 27.9 meters and 79.2 meters in length. This Leviathan moved on rails and was revolving. It was built in 1962 by the VEB Förderanlagen Köthen. The other giant is "Gemini" of 1980 tons. The height is 30 meters and the length 125 meters, built in 1958 in the VEB Förderanlagen Köthen. It moved on rails and was 6-8 man-operated. The "Big Wheel" weights 1718 tons. The height is 31 meters and 74.5 meters in length. It was operated by 3-5 man. It is built in 1984 by TAKRAF in Lauchhammer. The oldest is the "Mosquito" in 1941. This was built in Maschinefabriek Buckau. The fifth is the "Medusa" from 1959 of 1200 tons and 36 meters high.
Although the successor to the Bauhaus had a limited social role in the former DDR, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR industry led to opportunities like the Industrial Garden Realm of Dessau-Wörlitz. The Bauhaus of the twenties and thirties was controversial. The ideas of the Bauhaus today are also controversial. The five lignite excavators in Ferropolis are like the Bauhaus building part of the cultural and industrial heritage of the world. The Ferropolis, the “city of steel” is an example of re-use of redundant industrial remains. The fact that they are associated with severe environmental pollution does not alter their technical historical significance. The design of the destroyed landscape with lakes, forests and marinas shows how quickly nature can restore. It is again a place where history is written.
© Jur Kingma
a portfolio of lignite excavators in Ferropolis
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Further information:
Jeannine Fiedler, Peter Feiereabend, "Bauhaus" (Cologne, 1999) English translation 2000
Annemieke Hendriks, "Iron gardens" in "De Groene Amsterdammer" November 17, 1999 14-15.
Thies Schröder (eds) Bauhaus Dessau, Industrielles Garten Reich (Issue Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau, 1999)
Harald Kegler, "Ferropolis - Die Stadt aus Eisen. Festschrift zum 10. Jubiläums of Stadtgrüdung "(edition Ferropolis GmbH, 2005).
Eric C. Orleman, "Riesen Bagger in Aktion" original English edition 2003, (German edition Heel Verlag Köniningswinter ,2004)
Eissmann Lothar, "Die Erde hat Gedächtnis. Ion Mill 50 Jahre im Spiegel Mitteldeutscher Tagebaue "(Sax-Verlag, 2000) ISBN 3-930076-91-8
Information on the Internet: C3% B6rlitz ~ hendrik / bagger.html