What is the New Bauhaus
The New European Bauhaus is a creative and interdisciplinary initiative – announced 14 September 2020 by the President of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, in the 2020 State of the Union address – aimed at building a meeting space focused on futuristic ways of living in which art, culture, social inclusion, science and technology intersect in the name of sustainability.
The proposal for a new vision of the European city provides for the creation of inclusive and accessible spaces, in which the dialogue between cultures, disciplines, genders and ages becomes an opportunity to imagine a better world for everyone. Furthermore, it is aimed at developing sustainable solutions capable of creating a dialogue between our constructed environment and the planet’s ecosystems, and at promoting the enrichment of experiences that respond to the needs beyond the material dimension and that are inspired by creativity, art and culture.
The Bauhaus Movement: A Century Later
Founded in Weimar in 1919, the avant-garde Bauhaus movement (literally translated as “building house”) for architecture, art and design, soon took on an international dimension. For more than a century it has shaped creative thinking all over the world: from furniture design to urban landscapes, combining art and practicality and concretely impacting the social and economic transition towards the industrial society of the 20th century, the avant-garde Bauhaus movement had the purpose of combining artistic creation and industrial production, thus uniting aesthetic and functional value. The President of the European Commission refers to the school of art and design founded by Walter Gropius, precisely because the latter, in fact, was able to tap into the relationship between technology and culture.
One hundred years later, however, the world finds itself facing new global challenges: climate change, pollution, digitalization and an accelerated population explosion just to name a few, hand in hand with seemingly limitless economic growth that often happens at the expense of our well-being, the planet and its limited natural resources.
On the one hand, buildings and infrastructure are responsible for over 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, on the other hand modern construction uses materials such as concrete and steel, the production of which requires immense amounts of energy that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We need, therefore, to rethink and reprogram the way we live with the planet.
The Green Deal
This is why the European Commission has made it clear that in the first few years of the President’s mandate, the priority will be to promote the European Green Deal: a project aimed at making energy production and style more sustainable and less harmful to the environment and lifestyle of European citizens.
In practice, it will be a strategy, or a series of measures – including laws and investments – with the main purpose of limiting the increase in global warming, which, according to the calculations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) must remain within 1.5° compared to the pre-industrial era, so that Europe is the first continent with zero climate impact by 2050.
To obtain these results, much more than a reduction in emissions will be required: an economic model must be established that returns to the planet what was stolen from it and which is, therefore, based on a circular economic model with renewable energy. However, it will be necessary to go beyond the pure environmental or economic aspects: it must ensure that the European Green Deal represents above all a new cultural project for Europe. It is in this sense that this change is part of a specific aesthetic (precisely that of the New European Bauhaus) that brings together style and sustainability.
The New Bauhaus Projects
The New Bauhaus movement, therefore, is intended as a collaborative platform of design and creativity, in which architects, artists, students, scientists and designers collaborate to realize this vision. The aim is to bring the European Green Deal closer to citizens and to place recycling, renewable energy and biodiversity at the center of daily life. This can be done thanks to a construction industry that uses natural materials – including wood or bamboo – and to an architecture that adopts construction forms closer to that of nature, taking into account ecosystems and planning sustainability and reusability.
Imagined as a link between science and technology on the one hand, and the world of culture and art on the other, the project will be carried out according to a scheme that is divided into three phases. Initially, a design phase dedicated to exploring and fine-tuning new design ideas and giving shape to the movement. Secondly, there will be the delivery of five projects in different states to the Union, all committed to sustainability, between art and culture, each of them adapted to local conditions. Finally, the diffusion of ideas, the intent, that is, of thinking to look beyond borders in order to open a two-way street (of green and digitale) around the world.
The First Phase of Planning
On 18 January 2021, the European Commission launched the first design phase of the New European Bauhaus. This first step intends to exploit a co-creation process which tries to reconcile a dual need: on one side, that of examining ideas, trying to identify which needs and challenges are the most urgent, and on the other side, connecting relevant stakeholders with each other. On the website dedicated to the New Bauhaus, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, architects and students have the opportunity to discuss and share stimulating initiatives.
Alongside the co-planning, the Commission will launch the first edition of the New European Bauhaus award in spring: prizes will be awarded to the proposals that represent the fundamental values of the initiative and that can animate the debate on the places we live and their transformation.
Living in a “Green” World
Is it possible to live in an eco-sustainable way? The main objective of eco-sustainability is to minimize the environmental impact of human action on the Earth, so as to ensure that future generations can enjoy the resources and beauty of the planet.
Eco-sustainability certainly involves consumers, but it is also a responsibility of the large production sectors. Currently, the health of the planet is at risk and therefore great global changes need to take place so that we can reestablish the equilibrium that the Earth had until a few decades ago. It is in this sense that we are witnessing a radical change on the design front: the construction of new buildings and the redevelopment of existing ones are carried out in compliance with much stricter standards with respect to the environmental impact and reducing energy consumption.
The novelty of the New Bauhaus lies precisely in having built a bridge between the world of art and culture by combining these with the social challenges of the time: this new movement can also be beautiful. The hope is, in fact, that the New Bauhaus will establish a creative and interdisciplinary dynamic capable of developing aesthetic and functional norms in harmony with technologies, the environment and the climate, providing practical answers to the great social question of the future: how should a modern life in harmony with nature be imagined for Europe?
Testo Originale: Costanza Marino/ Traduzione: Peter Briggs
cover image credit: The Met (Object: 468526 / Accession: 56.171.92)