New Media, Continuing Debate
by Darlene A. Brady
From its beginnings, the Bauhaus was the site of a debate over the relative influence of art and technology in design. This summer, 80 years after its founding, the school witnessed a new twist on the debate. Only this time the technology in question was digital.
Weimar, Germany, home of the first Bauhaus School, was host in June to an international conference on design computing. The theme was the promise and reality of computing for the design and planning processes. Fittingly, the conference took place in the buildings of the Weimar Bauhaus, reminding participants that the "new" technology of computing adds another layer to a continuing time-honored debate.
The roots of the Bauhaus debate are found in an earlier discussion about the impact of technology on art. Seen as a confrontation between individualism and standardization, the underlying issue was whether the creative process or the inherent logic of technology should determine the design result.
Organized by eCAADe (Education in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe) and the Bauhaus University Weimar, the conference attracted participants from throughout the world. They gathered to discuss the ramifications of computing on architectural design and education. Their presentations spanned a wide range of approaches to the issues of design computing.
The eCAADe conference also provided the opportunity to see how the "new" Bauhaus School is dealing with the issue of technology and design. The Weimar Bauhaus was founded by Walter Gropius in 1919. The school relocated in 1925 to Dessau and closed in 1933 for political reasons. Architectural education continued in Weimar after the Bauhaus relocated under a variety of different names and emphases.
The new Bauhaus program in Weimar was established in 1995 when the University of Architecture and Civil Engineering was renamed as the Bauhaus University, Weimar. The name change does not indicate a return to the architectural style of the original Bauhaus, but rather to the spirit of the early predecessor.