Optimizing the energy efficiency in the housing estate Törten    

The Bauhaus-building in Dessau is an artefact, which is renowned worldwide. Together with the Meisterhäuser also in Dessau, as well as the Bauhaus-building and the Haus am Horn, both in Weimar, it is inscribed on the UNECSO World Heritage List.

“The Committee decided to inscribe the nominated property on the basis of cultural criteria (ii), (iv) and (vi) considering that the site is of outstanding universal value since these buildings are the seminal works of the Bauhaus architectural school, the foundation of the Modern Movement which was to revolutionize artistic and architectural thinking and practice in the twentieth century.“, to quote here from its description as reported in the World Cultural Heritage List [1]

(1)                                                                (2)

(1) Frankfurt am Main, Haus am Römer, reconstructed (in its outer appearance) in the early 1980ies, under restoration three decades later
(2) Frankfurt am Main, Museum für angewandte Künste, Richard Meier, built in the early 1980ies, under restoration three decades later

The Bauhaus-building is an outstanding building, but as a matter of fact it is an artefact. It was manufactured when building physics and the directly related theme of comfort were still little known subjects. Therefore it isn´t astonishing, that its construction did only in part respect fundamental requests of building physics and of comfort. By consequence, the comfort of this building depended on the climatic conditions for a long time. The huge glass surfaces with no shadowing, except an internal curtain system, were allowing in summer all external heat into the building. Where there are no partition walls, a cross-ventilation works exclusively.  In winter whereas the same glass surfaces were unable to prevent the constant loss of the warmth produced in the building by the radiation system, with temperatures in the interior rooms therefore not surpassing 16 degrees Celsius. The additional energy consumption to reduce where possible the heat in summer and to warm the building up although always insufficiently in winter, was enormous. In order to respond to the low comfort and to the fact that the same time the energy costs augmented over the last decades considerably a couple of years ago a project to optimize the energy efficiency of the Bauhaus-building was started.

“With support from the German economic stimulus package (Konjunkturpaket II) in recent months the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation was able to implement a comprehensive energy efficiency optimisation. These measures were necessary because the headquarter of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation is the historic Bauhaus-building in Dessau. Overall, the federal government allocated for the project ca € 3.9 million. The aim of the project was to strike a balance between the conservation - of the listed building as a World Cultural Heritage -, the requirements of long-term use and expressly to optimise the building’s energy efficiency.” [2] 

This project developed by Winfried Brenne, Berlin, together with the office of Transsolar, Stuttgart, and accompanied by the department of construction and building at the Bauhaus, here by Rainer Weisbach and Monika Markgraf, is exemplary for combining a great respect for the highly sensitive monument and a most precisely formulated proposal to enhance energy efficiency and comfort contemporaneously.

When meeting Monika Markgraf at the annual conference of DOCOMOMO Germany in 2011 soon the idea was formulated to bring firstly this exemplary project to the attention of schools, professors and students Europe-wide, and  secondly to investigate – in the frame of an international workshop to be held in the Bauhaus itself – to which extent it would be possible to transfer the experiences made in the Bauhaus to a different set of buildings again from the Bauhaus-Era, and more precisely to the Törten Estate, to the House Anton, the Steel-House and to the House with Balcony Access. 

We have developed on these grounds an Intensive Programme. This website intends to give the interested reader a first idea of the work we - about 40 students, and 10 professors from architectural programmes from the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia in Tallinn, the department for Building Environment Science Technology, Politecnico di Milano and from the Fachhochschule Frankfurt am Main, Studiengang Architektur, plus another 10 external experts from the Bauhaus itself, as well as from various German and foreign offices - have done over the span of winter-term 2011/2012 and spring-term 2012.

I am very grateful to Monika Markgraf for the initial impulse and to Philipp Oswalt, director of the Bauhaus Foundation, for having been our host and for his support of our Intensive Programme international workshop. 

As the coordinator of the Intensive Programme I would like, in the name of all participants, to thank all who dedicated much of their energy to this Intensive Programme. In the first place, I would like to thank the European Community, Education and Culture, Erasmus Programme and as its responsible representative the German national agency, the DAAD, for having accepted our proposal for this Intensive Programme, funding generously much of our work; and Martine Robert from the office for foreign exchange in Frankfurt am Main for her most helpful assistance in preparing the application and administrating the IP. Further I would like to thank all presidents, directors and deans of the participating schools and departments, from Leuven, Tallinn, Milano and Frankfurt am Main for their generous support of the programme. 

My thanks go to the team which organised the pre-workshop in Como, Maria-Paola Borgarini, and Marco Leoni, both from Milano. Our thanks go in particular to Stefano della Torre, head of the department of Building Environment Science Technology at the Politecnico di Milano and Andrea Canziani, author of the restoration of the three houses on the Isola Comacina to have shared in Como their knowledge with us. Many thanks go equally to the team, headed by Monika Markgraf, who together with Ilona Riske, Diana Schmidt, and Nicole Prag organized the Dessau workshop with a lot of energy and much dedication. The Bauhaus Foundation was a wonderful host, my special thanks go to Florian Bolenius. Monika Markgraf after having posed the initial question responded to all our questions most patiently. That the workshop could be held in the Bauhaus-building, specifically in the room, where a little more the 80 years ago Hannes Meyer worked with his students on the balcony access house, one of our investigation objects, was just perfect. Monika Markgraf also gathered much of the basic information on the three objects under investigation and invited some most important experts on both the Bauhaus-building itself and on the three more objects. But what we most appreciated was the great atmosphere of cooperation our German hosts were able to create.

I would also like very much to thank all the experts, who found time to join us, to sit on reviews, to come with us on our field trips and to introduce us to their work, to Berthold Burkhardt, Heike Brückner, Winfried Brenne, Christian Matt, Bernhard Furrer, Tapani Mustonen, Filipp Descamps, Ola Wedebrunn, Gerhard Schablitzki, Burkhard Petersen and Reiner Weisbach as well as to all cultural institutions and private owners, for having invited us to their sites, and for having provided the studio with most helpful material for the workshop.

I would like to thank Jan Przerwa for having designed and curated this website and Stefan Heßling for having co-edited and designed an accompanying brochure. Many thanks and compliments go to my colleagues from the partner schools, to Luc Verpoest, together with Thomas Coomans, and Barbara van der Wee, to Mart Kalm, to Andrea Canziani together with Maria Paola Borgarini and to Hans-Jürgen Schmitz and Kristian Hüsen, both from Frankfurt am Main as well. Last but not least - and very importantly - to all the participating students for having contributed to the workshop with great commitment and even greater enthusiasm - beforehand, during and after. 

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Jung
Frankfurt am Main, August 2012


Post Scriptum

This website gives you a first overview of our work. A more detailed view can, in addition, be given by a brochure which you can request through this website. The brochure contains papers by Maria Paola Borgarino, Winfried Brenne, Berthold Burkhardt, Andrea Canziani, Bernhard Furrer, Monika Markgraf, Tapani Mustonen, Christian Matt, and Hans-Jürgen Schmitz (here named in alphabetical order), as well as the workshop-research of the student-teams.


[1] Cfr. - Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau. The cultural criteria (ii), (iv) and (vi) are, that it „exhibit(s) an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design“; that it is „an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history“; and that it is „directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance“. Cfr. - selection criteria.

[2] Quoted from the website of the Bauhaus Foundation, cfr.