The European Commission has launched a new cultural and environmental initiative called the New European Bauhaus, referring to the German art school after the first world war which was banned by Nazi-Germany in 1933, forcing its architects and designers to go into exile.
The initiative was first announced by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of Union address last September when she linked the initiative to the European Green Deal. “It is a systemic change,” she said then. “To achieve this, we need broad engagement, wide support and lots of innovation and creativity.”
“The New European Bauhaus movement is intended to be a bridge between the world of science and technology and the world of art and culture.”
According to the Commission, the core values of the New European Bauhaus are sustainability, aesthetics and inclusiveness. By launching the design phase of the initiative, the Commission aims at starting a co-creation process to shape the concept by exploring ideas, identifying the most urgent needs and challenges, and to connect interested parties.
As one element of the design phase, the Commission will this Spring launch the first edition of the New European Bauhaus prize, up to €30,300 for each winner.
The design phase will also lead to the opening of calls for proposals in Autumn this year to bring to life New European Bauhaus ideas in at least five places in EU Member States, through the use of EU funds at national and regional level.
“With the New European Bauhaus our ambition is to develop an innovative framework to support, facilitate and accelerate the green transformation by combining sustainability and aesthetics,” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said at a press conference this week (18 January).
She referred to the original Bauhaus movement but stressed that sustainable and inclusive building and design have come to the forefront as never before. “Aesthetics should not be the privilege of the few,” she said.
Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira added that, “The New European Bauhaus is about how we live together, our values, our common spaces of work and leisure, our collective and private experiences. This is a project for all regions and territories in Europe. In promoting affordable solutions, it should contribute to social cohesion and to solving housing problems.”
The Bauhaus movement aimed at combining form and function and was banned by Nazi-Germany for its anti-totalitarian approach. Many of its leading architects fled to then Palestine where they continued their work. Tel Aviv today, “The White City”, has the largest number of Bauhaus buildings in the world and has been declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.
The Brussels Times asked the Commissioners if there is a political message behind the Commission’s choice of the Bauhaus concept.
Gabriel replied that art and culture are powerful agents of change but the idea is not to reproduce what happened almost 100 years ago but rather to stimulate people to think out of the box and come up with new ideas. If there is a political message, it is about making the green deal a cultural deal in a unique European way.
Ferreira added that Europe needs to be much more ambitious now in order to face the challenges of today, focusing on sustainable building and the survival of our planet. That does not exclude that the seeds of change were sown already by the original Bauhaus movement.
The Brussels Times