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25th Sep 2022

First look at EU's new '21st Century Bauhaus' project

  • 'Durability, aesthetics and inclusiveness' will be the guiding principles of the New European Bauhaus initiative - building on the unity of design and architecture of the original 1920s German model (Photo: denisbin)

The European Commission unveiled on Monday (18 January) its plans for the 'New European Bauhaus' initiative - an environmental, economic and cultural project aimed to design "future ways of living" in a sustainable manner.

"The New European Bauhaus is about how we live better together after the pandemic, while respecting the planet and protecting our environment. It is about empowering those who have the solutions to the climate crisis, matching sustainability with style," the commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

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  • This new initiative will unfold in three phases and last approximately five years (Photo: Sandra Donoso)

"Durability, aesthetics and inclusiveness" are the stated guiding principles of the project, inspired in the early 20th-century style of the German architect Walter Gropius, combining different elements from both fine arts and design to reflect the unity of all the arts.

This new initiative, first unveiled in von der Leyen's State of the Union speech last year will unfold in three phases - design, delivery and dissemination - that will last approximately five years.

In the first phase, the commission wants to encourage a broad dialogue between designers, artists, scientists, architects and citizens who can provide ideas and help to identify the most urgent needs and challenges in architecture and urban planning.

For that, the commission has launched a dedicated website for all interested parties, while exploring other possible tools that can allow co-design and of co-creation.

"The idea is to encourage conversations beyond the usual circles to deliver new insights," said EU commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth, Mariya Gabriel, who believes that the New European Bauhaus will kick-off "a systemic change" based on the synergy between art and culture, science and technology, but also building "a bridge between generations".

"This offers us a unique opportunity to put culture and creativity back at the centre of the European project and to use its transformative force," she said.

'Database of ideas'

The award-winning architect Jay Sidpara said that the European Bauhaus initiative should become a "database of ideas" on design, manufacture, nature-solutions and architecture and remain "simple, open, and easily accessible" in order to be efficient.

Thanks to this kind of initiative, buildings could notably improve in terms of energy performance and design, but also become more pleasant, comfortable, and green, since the ultimate aim is to "gain quality of life on equal terms," Sidpara added.

"In this big circle, in which people help the environment and the environment helps people, citizens probably have the most important role," he contined, arguing that people can put a voice to their community's problems and find green solutions while learning from others.

However, many aspects of the projects still need to be defined - including the name.

"This is all about marketing and letting people know. 'Bauhaus' may scare people, so we should give a new name that is useful for everyone," added Sidpara.

As part of the first phase, the commission will launch the first edition of the New European Bauhaus in spring - with €30,000 prizes to "existing examples that represent the integration of the key values of the initiative".

The outcome will lead to a call for proposals in the autumn, resulting in five pilot projects across member states which will be eligible to receive EU funds at the national and local level.

In the next phase, starting at the end of this year and lasting for approximately two years, the pilot projects will be set up.

During the 'dissemination' phase, the EU executive wants to spread ideas and concepts defining the New European Bauhaus via new projects, networking and sharing of knowledge, within the bloc and beyond.

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