The history of Haus Auerbach

In 1924 Gropius had the chance to build a house for the jewish couple Felix and Anna Auerbach. Felix Auerbach was Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Jena and had been appointed by Ernst Abbe, the director of Zeiss at that time. Anna Auerbach was a woman who was active in many ways culturally and politically. She fought in different organizations for the equality of women. After all she was the chairwoman of the middle German union for the right of women to vote in the German association for the right of women to vote.

The house Auerbach displays in the work of Gropius for the first time all significant characters of the „New Building“. It is a floating, asymmetrical building which first reveals itself through the movement of the observer; it is a cubic ensemble comprised of interpenetrating building structures and is economically constructed with new building materials. At the same time it is a logical, first realization of the Gropius conceived „big box of bricks“. With Haus Auerbach Gropius realized for the first time a flat roof in the setting of a private house.

In the context of the trend for cost reduction and simplification in construction Gropius’ efforts had come in vogue, including the use of new construction materials. In addition, by the prefabrication of individual components a considerable saving in construction costs could result. The principle of this „big box of bricks“ that allowed for a free combination and addition of building units, meant a „great variability for the same basic type with the use of systematic annexation and set-up of connected cellular-rooms, depending on the number and needs of the inhabitations, using basic, passable roofs“.

When visitors or spectators move around the house, they realize that there is no symmetrical composition. With the overcoming of symmetry and the development of free, more flowing ground plans the new buildings could be transported into a state of floating. In order to float and overcome the effect and appearance of terrestrial inertia.“

The main proportions in Haus Auerbach are based on a simple geometric ratio. The floors, the surfaces and the window arrangement are in a ratio of 3:2. Haus Auerbach is a constructed flatted fifth. It is unfortunately not known if Gropius possibly developed this motif in tandem with Felix Auerbach who was an acoustician and passionate musician. Perfect proportions played a great role for Gropius, in that he saw the power of proportion as the pre-condition for artistic success and beauty.

The exterior walls of Haus Auerbach, like those of Haus am Horn, are made from Jurko stone. Construction with Jurko was a substitute method of construction that the architects and building engineers after the First World War used to cope with the scarceness of materials like limestone, cement and bricks. At the time a new building material with the same static and thermal engineering qualities as bricks was being looked for. The architect Robert Koppe from Leipzig had developed and patented the “ Jurko building method“ a few years before.

The winter garden is a steel-glass construction consisting of three three-span windows toward the east, a room-high three-span double door to the south and three removable three-span windows to the dining room. The latter can additionally be closed with wooden blinds, which have the same grey tone as the windows

In the inside the house is painted with 37 different gentle pastel tones, which have been designed by the wall painter Alfred Arndt in 1924. And in the course of the sweeping restauration of the House in 1994 and 1995 the complete execution of the color design of Alfred Arndt was extensively corroborated and proven in detail and restored. Alfred Arndt, who as a Bauhaus member certainly designed and carried out most of the known color interior designs, established his own path as a Bauhaus wall decorater with the polychromatic interiors of Haus Auerbach. This pertains to color selection as well as the relation of color and space. His color selection was based on the combination of light and delicate pastel tones which did not follow the contrast theory of the Bauhaus, and was based more on the idea of a complex harmony of colors. He only seldom used solid colors, in order to accentuate the light relations in dark rooms or passage ways. His use of color can be classified neither with the purely tectonic nor with the decorative–sculptural style of mural painting, especially since he treated every room individually. He tried to express the character of the rooms formally as well as in color and gives each room its own special color design. He chose this design according to the specific qualities, like the size and light relations and purpose of the room, which could demand a specific color atmosphere.

Today owners are the couple Dr. Barbara Happe and Prof. Dr. Martin S. Fischer.