Thursday Lunchtime Talks

Dr Martin Düchs

Concepts of the human being at the late Bauhaus: Hannes Meyer and Mies van der Rohe

Despite its short existence (1919-1933), the Bauhaus was one of the most important and globally influential architecture schools. One of the most important goals of its leading members was not only to build for human beings in general but for what they called 'the new man' (Der Neue Mensch). In the 1920’s everybody talked about the new man: architects propagandised his coming, and they wanted to build for him. Nevertheless, they hardly ever defined their idea of a new man in detail and seldom discussed his features or how one should imagine him. It’s therefore not surprising that each architect developed a very different concept of the new man, which could nevertheless be very influential.

In this talk, I will try to reconstruct two ideas of the human being that were predominant in the Bauhaus in its final phase, from 1928 to 1933. To do so, I will present two buildings from two directors of the Bauhaus, namely Hannes Meyer (1928-1930) and Mies van der Rohe (1930-1933).  I will scrutinise them with regard to their ideas of the human being, which can be found both within the buildings themselves and what the architects’ wrote about them. My perspective, therefore, is less one of art history than of philosophy, and more specifically of philosophical anthropology.

Speaker Dr Martin Düchs is a Clare Hall Life Member and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Bamberg University. He studied both architecture and philosophy in Munich, Gothenburg and Paris. His research focuses on the philosophy of architecture, ethics, philosophical anthropology and aesthetics. He has just finished a major research project in which he discusses the importance of different conceptions of the human being for architecture.