Hannes Meyer, Second Director and The Social Vision of the Bauhaus

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Hans Emil Meyer Hans Emil Meyer

Hans Emil Meyer, (Basel, Switzerland, November 18, 1889 - Lugano, Switzerland, 1954), known as Hannes Meyer, was an architect and town planner known for being the second director of the school of the Bauhaus between 1928 and 1930. 

He was born in a family of architects, and during his youth he worked as a draftsman in Basel, to later study in Berlin in 1909. Meyer received the typical workshop training of the time, as happened to Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe. During training he studied different courses of cooperativism, such as the project of the garden cities of Ebenezer Howard. These projects especially called attention, due to the solution they proposed to improve the living conditions of workers.

Before joining the Bauhaus, Meyer had a significant career, thanks to projects such as the Petersschule, the palace of the United Nations society, or the Meyer / Witter laboratories, together with his partner Hans Witter. This trajectory surprised Walter Gropius when they met at the inauguration of the school in Dessau in the spring of 1927, and a short time later, Gropius himself proposed directing the architecture section of the school. His competitive nature, professional competence and enthusiasm earned him to stand out from the rest of the candidates.

In his first time at the Bauhaus, from 1927 to 1928, he directed different classes on general questions about architecture about constructive organization, as well as the study of architecture through the planes. Teaching methods that would also apply to his partner Hans Witter, who also joined the school, and who headed the architecture department while Hannes was the director of the Bauhaus. Just a year and a half later, Walter Gropius entrusted him with the direction of the school in 1928, after the rejection of the post of Mies Van De Rohe In 1929 his extramarital relationship with the student Lotte Stam-Beese, led the student to leave the Bauhaus, and put Meyer in the teachers' point of view, one more appendix to the list of reasons why the Swiss had to leave the address of the school.

He was pressured to leave his post in 1930, partly because of his ideas related to communism and the mistrust that these ideas generated with the Dessau authorities, and on the other hand the dissatisfaction of the faculty and of Walter Gropius himself with his teaching methodologies and address of the school, of a social nature, and less focused on the artistic question. This also led him to leave Germany in the same year, and emigrate to Moscow, where at first he would not be discriminated against for his ideas, so he left with some students who were also expelled from school and settled there, where they made the First Five-Year Plan of Stalin (1928-1932).

During this period in the Soviet Union, he strengthened ties with Lena Bergner, who was a student at the Bauhaus from 1926 to 1929, a student of Josef Albers, Wassily Kandinsky and Joost Schmidt. Lena traveled to Moscow with Meyer, with whom she would marry in 1937, until the end of her days.

But this reception of the Soviet Union did not last long, since Stalin applied a policy of closed doors to everything that came from abroad, which again led him to have tensions with the authorities of the city in which he exercised. However, he was allowed to hold a post at the Moscow University as a professor at the Institute of Architecture and Construction until 1937, the year he would return to Switzerland, and where he would be installed until 1939.

He emigrated again in 1938, when Lázaro Cárdenas, president of Mexico, received an invitation to work with the public administration. There he worked for multiple public organizations, and carrying out different projects that he combined with his teaching life, since he was also the Director of the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, as well as director of the School of Planning and Urbanism and Director of the Department of Workers' Housing in different stages of your stay in the country. He soon returned to having problems with the government for his ideas, which cost him his positions as director and professor at the University of Mexico.

He finally returned to Switzerland in 1949, settling in Crossifisso, where he lived until his death in 1954, due to health complications.

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