It seems too mind-blowingly good that Staatliches Bauhaus, the art school of Bauhaus, stills exists, as it was and you can stay in the rooms that the design students lived in. It feels like some trick. Like history that should only exist in slightly faded old photos. But it’s a real thing. Sometimes life does some really magic stuff.
In Berlin, you have the Bauhaus Archive which is a beautifully-designed building. It’s a very different type of place though. It’s now an exhibition space that charts the history of Bauhaus. It also feels a little like an extra step, removed from the past. Like standing very close to a photo, trying to jump into it.
The School of Bauhaus in Dessau though, is where Walter Gropius’ school moved to after its first home of Weimar. It was eventually shut down because of the Nazis vs. the radical design movement. Before then, the students lived in a studio building and used to host classes in their rooms and hang out, playing around on the balconies. They designed the school to have huge windows and big communal spaces, so students would want to lurk around in the hallways by the light.
You can go there and wander round the same 1930s building, which hasn’t really been touched. *It”s had a huge renovation in order to make sure it doesn’t look like it’s been touched.* You can stay in the rooms they did, which have been converted but remain as coldly empty and oddly beautiful as ever. It is a dream. It’s also pretty cheap. It feels like cheating at life.
Dessau itself is a silent place. The building lives on Bauhausstraße, a road I still can’t quite believe exists with that name. Around the area are some other Bauhaus buildings but otherwise it’s a very very quiet place. It was a rainy day when I went, which kind of added to it.
It’s about 80 miles (130km) from Berlin to Dessau so it’s a perfect day trip. It also goes through Potsdam. No one had told me how beautiful Potsdam is so as I went flying over the spectacularly famous Glienicker Brücke, which appears in half the Cold War films, I was suddenly met by a town that looked like it had been singlehandedly designed for the autumn weather.
Then out, through the woods of Brandenburg state to the south of Potsdam. Long endless roads with some stunning trees. Before I talk endlessly about trees whilst sounding like a lunatic, here’s a quick video and some photos to do the job for me. It was very special.
Here is a quick guide to emulate my day of cycling completely.
Wake up late, argue with a broken inner tube for far too long, set off in the early afternoon.
Miss the fabled Grunewald woods completely but cycle past the Haus am Waldsee sculpture garden/museum and a really satisfying bike lane as a runner up prize.
Deal with a work phone call at the bottom of a hill. Deal with another work phone call having just climbed a long slow incline whilst trying to get your breath back.
Fly through Potsdam and forget everything apart from how spectacular autumn is. Take no photos because of breathless joy.
Come out of the other side into endless woods. Gawp at trees delightedly.
Get off bike and go and prance around in woods. Take a stupid selfie.
Cycle for a long period of time, delighted at having most of the road to yourself. When cars arrive, be reminded that “Germany is the land of the car” as they grumpily go past.
Accidentally head into a military testing zone. Reverse. Have some fun skidding about on a very sandy path through the woods. Debate virtues of cyclocross. Skid a bit too much, stop debating.
Buy your weight in Coca Cola from a tiny farm using your awful German, but be delighted at having produced said beverage.
Do a couple of U-Turns. Look a bit giddy at Bauhausstraße.
Skip around a bit too excitedly. Eat all the food in the cafe. Sit in the Bauhaus studio bed, grinning.
Be delighted by everything from the ceiling to the floor tiles in the bathroom.
There’s an exhibition running, too. It’s all very brilliant. I am obviously smitten.