The Bauhaus of Nature
“The Bauhaus of Nature,” Modernism/Modernity, 12:2 (2005), 229-251.
This article examines the history of architecture based upon ecological principles. The point of departure is the architectural debate in London in the 1930s in which former faculty members of the Bauhaus school engaged with ecologists with regards to the methods of designing in harmony with nature. László Moholy-Nagy, for example, developed a design methodology inspired by the ecologist Raoul H. Francé which sought to copy nature’s workshop. This “bio-technique” (or bionics) became the methodology for his design in London and later for the New Bauhaus school in Chicago. Berthold Lubetkin was inspired by similar ideas in his design of the penguin pool at the London Zoo. The geometric order of the pool reflected promising new mathematical research tools in biology, as well as a social concern for the health and evolutionary survival of the human species. Some of the same concerns were apparent in the visionary ecological design for the film Things to Come (1936) written by H. G. Wells. Inspired by the Bauhaus style of architecture and city planning, the film portrayed an environmentally friendly ecotopia based on the science of human ecology. This article offers a history of architecture inspired by social studies of science and patronage methodology.