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The colouring of the Bauhouse building in Dessau
Not much is known about the colouring of the Bauhause building. The most important source are the eight colouring plans made by Hinnerk Scheper, the manager of the wall painting studio, as well as three coloured diapositives most probably made when the building was handed over for use, i. e. near the end of 1926. Al-though Scheper’s projects were mentioned in literature and were often reproduced, they were, however, treated only discriptively. Nevertheless, after a more accurate analysis it becomes evident that, in spite of hitherto existing opinions, the partly not too legible projects were carried out with only a few changes.
The definition of the colouring assumptions of the Bauhause building is difficult. Not much is known about Scheper’s earlier works. In a short text added to the coloured orientation plan, Scheper expressed his views in relation to the colouring of the Bauhause building. The system of the building complex should be made readable through colour, i.e. while in the accommodations used by the Bauhause the surfaces of ceilings but not the under-surfaces of ferroconcrete bims, were to be painted, in the part of the complex used by the School of Crafts colour was used on the under-surfaces of ferroconcrete beams but not on the surfaces of ceilings. In this manner, the Bauhause and the School of Crafts were distinguished in the building through the application of colour.
Allotting colour to the surfaces of ceilings and the lower planes of ferroconcrete beams remains in relation to Scheper’s aim of differentiating the carrying and filling surfaces, which was to lead to a clear determination of architectonic tensions. The assumptions of allotting colour, proclaimed by Scheper, are closely bound with theoretical postulates of classical modernism related to architecture. The use of white, gray, black and red colour on the exterior of the building, as well as yellow, red and blue in the interior, has a deep justification in the theory of hues. The red colour on building elevations, used beside white, plays a meaningful role. The red squares of wall surfaces on the east elevation of the School of Crafts remain in close relation to Kandinsky’s views on colour and form. According to Kandinsky, red has its counterpart in the form of a square. Scheper undoubtedly knew this allotment. Most probably, the use of warm and cool tones of red and pink on the exterior surfaces of walls is bound with Kandinsky’s theory of colour. Basing on fundamental hues, the projects of interiors are probably connected with the Dutch group of De Stijl, and so it ought to be assumed that Scheper’s colouring concepts were also influenced by painters of the Bauhause circle. The essence of his colouring projects for interiors of the Bauhaus building Scheper created from fundamental hues.
The connection of colouring with theoretical assumptions of architecture and painting is a characteristic feature of classic modernism architecture and is evidenced on the example of the Bauhaus building complex in Dessau, in a most expressive form.
The illustrations present colouring projects of the Bauhaus building in Dessau, by Hinnerk Scheper.