Extension of the Preller Building, Dessau
Edmund Collein, 1928
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The student residence machine in Edmund Collein’s photo collage is L-shaped. This 'extension of the Preller Building', as he jokingly called it, was his view of the effects of the constant inflow of more and more new students at the Bauhaus. The piece was included as part of the portfolio '9 jahre bauhaus. eine chronik' [nine years of the bauhaus: a chronicle], which was presented by Bauhaus students and masters to the college’s founder and first director, Walter Gropius, as a farewell gift. They are all sitting squashed together in the Preller Building, the Bauhaus’s studio building, in which some of the students also had accommodation and where Gropius’s architectural studio was also apparently located. Collein duplicates photo units like building modules any number of times in order to create a residential block that adapts itself to the constantly growing numbers of students. This 'living-machine' (as Le Corbusier termed the Fordist conception of industrialized module production) contains lovers, individualists and avant-gardist, with door notices apparently often used by Gropius interspersed among them: 'Not available', 'My coffee grinder’s with Schmidtchen', and finally, completing the building at the top, 'Closed due to overcrowding'. On top there is a kind of circus manager with outsized hands and hat, who is taming the inmates like an animal trainer and offering them for sale to the viewer.
The basic idea of Bauhaus architecture consisted of seeing architecture 'not as a complex of interiors, not as a rigid shell, an unalterable spatial situation, but rather as a movable structure for the purpose of mastering life, as an organic component of life itself', as László Moholy-Nagy described it. Collein’s photo collage implements this mobility in the modular building sections. Another module is located in the horizontal part of the building, in which girls apparently cooped up together are happily kissing the window-panes and pressing their noses against them. Collein uses this photo by Walter Hege twice in his work, and he reproduces the picture of Bauhaus students on a shelf for architectural drawings four times.
The general 'Bauhaus idea' that is reflected in Collein’s photomontage was always that of a personal form of life, the individual aspect of life, with a fluid transition between learning and leisure, between seriousness and fun.
- László Moholy-Nagy (1929): von material zu architektur, Bauhausbuch Nr. 14, Passau.
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