A1 Journal article (refereed)
Henri Lefebvre’s lessons from the Bauhaus (2021)

Lohtaja, A. (2021). Henri Lefebvre’s lessons from the Bauhaus. Journal of Architecture, 26(4), 499-515. https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2021.1923551

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Lohtaja, Aleksi

Journal or series: Journal of Architecture

ISSN: 1360-2365

eISSN: 1466-4410

Publication year: 2021

Publication date: 21/05/2021

Volume: 26

Issue number: 4

Pages range: 499-515

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13602365.2021.1923551

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/75930


Throughout his writings, Henri Lefebvre made sporadic observations on the German art, design, and architecture school Bauhaus. His commentary on the Bauhaus can be read in light of his wider criticism of Modernist architecture and its political project. Despite its revolutionary aspirations, the Bauhaus provided ‘the architectural requirements of state capitalism’. This article argues that looking at Lefebvre’s ambiguous reading of the Bauhaus unveils the more complex trajectory of his thinking on Modernist utopian impulses to change society through design. Alongside his criticism of the Bauhaus as tailor made for what Lefebvre calls the neocapitalist state, his work also includes more positive comments on the school. While Lefebvre rejects the reformist tendencies of the Bauhaus, he acknowledges that the school plays an important, historic role for advancing political change through architecture. As such, Lefebvre’s criticism of the Bauhaus should be reconsidered in terms of offering a lesson in Modernism. Its attempt to create a new space to configure new social relations becomes an unfinished project; it is precisely the failure of Modernism to push this project beyond conformist and reformist agendas that needs to be considered. In conclusion, Lefebvre reads the utopian aspirations of the Bauhaus within and against their actual historical outcome.

Keywords: architecture; modernism; social philosophy; political art; political culture; societal change; capitalism; Marxism; utopias

Free keywords: Lefebvre, Henri; Bauhaus

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:20