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The New European Bauhaus festival: putting ideas into action

Published on June 6, 2022
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Architects, high-level European officials, and sustainability and construction experts will take to Brussels from 9 to 12 June for the first New European Bauhaus Festival

The event will offer a chance to discuss and share ideas on how to build the cities of the future, reshaping the urban landscape with greener and more appealing structures. The festival is one of the pillars of the New European Bauhaus, an EU initiative inspired by the Green Deal marrying innovative architectural concepts with science, beauty and inclusivity.  

After shunning nature for decades in favour of crowded buildings of metal and concrete, the New European Bauhaus is prompting architects to turn their gaze on trees, leaves and green spaces. It encourages experts to bring nature back into people’s daily lives and make it an integral part of the construction and urban spaces of the future.   

“Beautiful. Sustainable. Together.”

The hybrid in-person and online Brussels gathering will be an invaluable opportunity for the community to look for a way forward, defining where the New European Bauhaus is heading and how to put ideas into practice. 

The programme boasts a combination of talks, debates and workshops with cultural and artistic events, including performances, exhibits, installations, videos and live paintings.

Among the highlights is the 11 June ceremony that will crown the winners of this year’s New European Bauhaus prizes. The awards will celebrate inspiring projects and ideas that exemplify the New European Bauhaus’ core values.  

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, will participate in the festival’s opening event emblematically titled ‘From local to global and back again’.

Debates will centre around ideas such as building liveable cities, transforming the urban landscape in times of global crisis and creating new structures under the New European Bauhaus’ motto: “Beautiful. Sustainable. Together.”

Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will be among the EU officials in attendance.

For Gabriel, this will be yet another opportunity to contribute to the New European Bauhaus conversation – on 9 June, Gabriel will remotely join the Eurocities annual conference in Espoo where she will participate in a discussion on solutions and challenges for the creation of sustainable cities.  

The war in Ukraine will also enter the Brussels event, with participants called to debate how to lead the country’s reconstruction. The idea is to combine sustainability, cultural heritage and inclusiveness in a hoped-for post-conflict era. 

A promotional poster for the June 9 - 12th event. Copyright: European Commission

Walking the talk in cities

In introducing the New European Bauhaus in April 2021, von der Leyen called on local leaders to provide ideas to “make the European Green Deal tangible and palpable” and “add a cultural dimension to the economic and technological transformation”. 

“Indeed, local governments are at the heart of the New Bauhaus project,” says Pietro Reviglio, Policy Advisor on Governance at Eurocities. “City administrations are becoming ambassadors of the initiative on the ground and are looking for opportunities to move from talk to action.” However, “for many cities, it will be important to be able to tap into incentives and funding opportunities to be able to sustain the initiative in the long-term,” Reviglio warns.  

Cities will be actively engaged in the festival, with municipalities like Lille and Brussels – for example – co-organising a side event on “fruitful cooperation for shaping the New European Bauhaus.”  

German-born global appeal

The New European Bauhaus’ name takes after the architecture, design and applied arts movement that first developed in Germany from 1919 to 1933.  

Founded by architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus introduced a new style that favoured geometric, symmetric and asymmetric lines, a clean design emphasizing functionality and a no-frills approach in the post-World War I industrialized world. The new school was interdisciplinary and combined technology with architecture, arts, crafts and design.  

Although the Nazis closed the Bauhaus school in 1933, its creators exported the movement to countries such as the United States and Israel, where it continued to creatively expand from its creators’ original ideas.  

The aesthetic revolution that the Bauhaus set in motion was so groundbreaking that the movement continues to inspire countless architects, artists and designers to these days. 

Today’s New European Bauhaus is the brainchild of the1920’s original movement.  

When von der Leyen introduced the Commission-led initiative, she highlighted the defining principles of the New European Bauhaus: inclusivity, aesthetic and sustainability. With the addition of nature, this architectural style is now ready to enter the 21st century.

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