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In 1919 Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus - from Bauhütte, the mason's shed – in Weimar. The project was born from the need to set aside futility to bring out the essence of things. One hundred years later, inspired by this successful experience, the President of the European Commission announced the New European Bauhaus.

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Heir to the pre-war avant-garde, Walter Gropius' Bauhaus was not only a school, it was a key reference for all the innovative movements in the field of design and architecture embedded into rationalism and functionalism, part of the so-called Modern Movement. Coming from all around the world, its international professors were leading figures in European culture. Together they contributed to profoundly influence all the artistic and technical practices of modernity and contemporaneity. The Bauhaus was a crucial moment in the twentieth-century debate on the relationship between technology and culture. 

 

Bauhaus facade in Dessau, 1926. Courtesy of Getty-Images.

 

Thus, in a pandemic-plagued world that has realized the importance of the environment and the need to find new ways to innovate, Ursula von der Leyen calls together creatives from across the Union to initiate the New European Bauhaus.

"I would like the resources of NextGenerationEU," said Von der Leyen, "to kick-start a wave of European renewal and make our Union a leader in the circular economy. But this is not just an environmental or economic project: it must be a new cultural project for Europe". 

A revolution of style, involving all creative minds: designers, scientists, architects, artists and ordinary citizens, to build a shared future narrative. 

The Bauhaus was born from a devastated cultural environment and atmosphere that were suffering the losses caused by the First Great War. A moment full of contradictions and sorrow, of negation and contradictory feelings. In such context, the Bauhaus represented a much-needed utopia, giving life to ideas and movements. Following its lead, the New European Bauhaus aims at being a creative and interdisciplinary project in order to create "a meeting space to design ways of living in the future, located at the crossroads of art, culture, social inclusion, science and technology. It requires a collective effort to imagine and build a future that is sustainable, inclusive and beautiful, for our minds and souls." 

The project falls under the Green Deal, the ambitious roadmap to make the EU economy "sustainable" by reducing gas and greenhouse emissions, fostering biodiversity, and reducing pollution in a process that hopefully will achieve climate neutrality in 2050. To do this, everyone's commitment is needed, and culture is the key to changing lives, heads, bad habits, Von der Leyen claims. 

 

Cover images: New European Bauhaus. Courtesy of europa.eu

Written by Giulia Cami

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