insistence upon an exhibition Art and Technics in 1923, immediately afterward the staff resigned. Gropius was swamped with offers to relocate, and accepted one from Dessau. To house the school he designed a group of connected blocks (1925–1926): administration, classrooms, studios, workshops, and accommodations for staff and students. Although Gropius often denied any such intention, the need for modem architecture—a tangible expression of the spirit of the age—meant that the Dessau complex would be adopted as a model internationally.

Architecture was introduced into the curriculum at Dessau. Just then, groups of European architects, mostly socialists, were searching for a pure form of architecture, liberated from the historical styles that they associated with a decadent aristocracy or (worse in their eyes) with the rising industrial bourgeoisie. The architects included English Arts and Crafts, Italian Futurists, Dutch De Srijl, and German Expressionists. Buildings inevitably became expressions of their beliefs, and their response to Europe’s widespread housing crisis of the 1920s was an austere form of workers’ housing with open floor plans, white interiors, and furniture that “worked,” whatever that meant. For them, a building must have a flat roof and flat walls, devoid of all ornament and decoration. And because color was bourgeois, the exteriors of houses must be white, gray, or black—in fact, just like the Dessau Bauhaus. It is not surprising that by 1932 the Americans Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson recognized in all this what they (inaccurately) dubbed an International Style. It was soon imitated throughout the world, frequently with no heed to the underlying sociopolitical theory.

Gropius resigned the Bauhaus directorship in April 1928, not only to concentrate upon his architectural practice but also in an attempt—futile, as it happened—to stem the growing National Socialist (Nazi) Party’s propaganda attacks upon the school. He recommended the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer as successor. But because Meyer was overtly Communist, the mayor of Dessau dismissed him in 1930, appointing in his place a German architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Under mounting pressure to close altogether, Mies moved the Bauhaus to Berlin in 1932. A year later he disbanded it.

Although its ideas were spread internationally by many publications—not least the Bauhausbüche series after 1925—and exhibitions, the Bauhaus became more influential through the diaspora of staff and students: for example, Gropius went to head up the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, Mies became dean of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and László Moholy-Nagy established the “New Bauhaus” in Chicago. A Bauhaus archive, originally at Darmstadt, moved to Berlin in the 1970s; another is housed at Harvard. The design philosophy and the educational philosophy of the Bauhaus continue to have impact on the teaching and practice of architecture and design.

Further reading

Gropius, Walter. 1965. The New Architecture and the Bauhaus. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Hochman, Elaine S. 1997. Bauhaus: Crucible of Modernism. New York: Fromm.

Wingler, Hans Maria. 1969. The Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bedouin tents

There are only three essential structural systems in architecture: the post and beam (trabeated), the arch and its extensions (arcuated), and those that employ stretched filaments and membranes (tensile). Because durable tensile materials like steel and reinforced concrete were not developed until after 1865, and synthetic membranes, like fiberglass-Teflon laminate and Kevlar, until more than a century later, tensile technology was limited to buildings not considered “proper” architecture. But despite the denial of means, the method of creating them has been understood, refined, and applied from ancient times. Purest among such applications are the tents of the Bedouin. Their origins are lost, but they are indeed architectural feats for their structural economy, functionality, and environmental sustainability.

The nomadic Arabs known as Bedouin (badawi, for “desert dwellers”) inhabited Arabia from sometime in the second millennium b.c. With the expansion of Islam in the seventh century a.d., they spread into the Syrian and Egyptian deserts and invaded northern Africa, where their flocks, allowed to overgraze,