Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerd Zimmermann: Digital, experiment-keen and open-minded – The Bauhaus of the 21st century

The Bauhaus University Weimar has a well-defined, sound profile that generates unique study and re­­search a­­­chievements. The arts, techno­logy and humanities disciplines, which usually operate separately, work together closely within our university. This symbiotic relationship creates completely new fields of work, from which unusual and future-oriented approaches emerge.


In 1919 Walter Gropius founded the Bau­­haus in Weimar – four years later he initiated the quest for “new unity of arts and technology”. That is, to connect art and design avant-garde with modern industry. The Bauhaus University today follows the same experimental and open-minded work methods that the state Bauhaus practised in the early 1920s. With the involvement of modern and contemporary technology and work methods, the Bauhaus of the 21st century, in the “Gropius sense”, is a di­­gital Bauhaus. All the faculties grasp the task of collaborating on the conception, construction and organization of current and future living spaces – analytical, creative and innovation-keen. In that way, practical-orientation plays a significant role in all areas.

The interdisciplinary project-based course is a substantial quality and key-differentiating feature of the study course at the Bauhaus University. It supports the explicit practical-orientation of training through everyday tasks and real-life as­­signments. Currently the Bauhaus Uni­­versity has almost thirty study courses available in four fundamental fields of discipline: architecture, especially city planning and research; engineering, from materials science to construction en­­gineering up to construction management and environmental technology; art and design, especially free art, visual com­­munication and product design; as well as the field of me­­dia in media design, media sciences and media systems.

The intensive collaboration with econo­m­­ics and the connection of university works on people’s everyday like activities, is the central obligation of the Bauhaus University. It considers itself to be a partner in all areas of environmental organization and simultaneously a partner for the region, nationally and internationally.

In this way numerous ideas for business start-ups flow from the project courses. Young engineers as well as designers, digital media designers, architects and construction engineers use the opportunity while still at university to arrange their own future businesses. They are supported herein by the Bauhaus Uni­versity’s business start-up workshop, “neudeli”. The “neudeli” team has, since the initiation of its workshop in 2001 until the summer of 2007, taken care of more than 100 start-up projects, of which about 40 are still active in the market, with 30 thereof located in Weimar.


The young founders find further stimulus through the cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. From 2007 until 2009, close to one million euros aid money will flow to both univer­sities under the concept of a Weimar-Jena young founder and innovation campus. This should result in even stronger sup­­port for student spin-offs and for collaboration with the regional economy to archieve sustained extension.
The transfer of research findings from the university into business practice is a declared objective of the Material Re­­search and Testing Institute (MFPA) and “Knoten in Weimar”, which is the inter­na­tional transfer liaison of environmen­tal biotechnology in the waste industry. Both are associated institutions of the Bauhaus University. With the completion of the Centre for Intelligent Building (CIB) in spring 2008, the institutions located in the Coudraystraße in Weimar will obtain additional stimulus.



In summer 2007, the Bauhaus Univer­sity took a further step towards scientific and research transfer through the erection of a design transfer centre to intensify and professionalize the colla­b­oration between universities and the economy. Business communication, lo­­cation marketing, transfer of services, design research and the development of formats for further education are only some of the tasks of the transfer centre. The objective also associated with the foundation of the centre, is the establishment of the Weimar design location through networking and the promotion of international cooperation. The official opening of the design transfer cen­tre is scheduled for the beginning of 2008.

International contacts between academ­­ics and students are the normal cour­­se of university life. The university ope­r­ates in a far-reaching network of international relationships that sustain partnerships within the European programme ERASMUS or bilateral agreements or al­­ternatively on a teaching-based co­op­eration. Reputable partners are for in­­­­stance the ETH Zurich, the Oxford Bro­okes University, the Illinois Institute of Tech­nology in Chicago, the Pratt Ins­ti­­­tute in New York as well as the Waseda Uni­versity in Tokyo. Foreign students also considerably shape life at the Bau­­haus University and its image: foreign participation amounts to as much as 30 per cent in several study courses and 14 per cent of the entire university.

Rektor1The author was born in 1946 and stud­ied architecture in Weimar and received his doctorate in 1974. He was initially em­­ployed in academic capa­­cities in Ber­lin and at the HAB building academy, Weimar. Since 1992 he has been profes­­sor at the HAB for “Design and Archi­tec­­­­­tural Theo­­ry”. The rector of the Bau­haus University Weimar is the chairper­son of the state rectors’ conference in Thurin­gia.