Bauhaus Australia

Bauhaus Australia: Émigrés, Refugees and the Modernist Transformation of Education in Art, Architecture, and Design, 1930 to 1970

The Bauhaus is the modernist model par excellence for art, architecture and design education, with many studies and exhibitions documenting its complex history, ambitions and achievements (Schmidt, 1984; Wick, 1982/2000/2009; Droste, 1990; Düchting, 1996; Forgács, 1997; Wingler, 2002). Interest in its history intensified on the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus in 2009 (Neef, 2009; Saletnik et al, 2009; Bauhaus: A Conceptual Model, 2009). This project shifts attention to the second generation of the Bauhaus in the context of migration, by which stage other pedagogical models, such as those developed in German and central European technical colleges (technische hochschule) also became influential. It will research the extensive and under-documented history of a pedagogically informed modernism in Australia. Its findings, timed to coincide with the Bauhaus centenary in 2019, will produce new interdisciplinary research that highlights far-reaching innovations in creative practice and education in Australia.

The project aims to:

  1. conduct the first systematic examination of cross-disciplinary approaches to art, architecture and design education and practice brought to Australia by modernist émigrés from Germany, Austria and central Europe
  2. investigate the impact of those approaches by analysing curriculum changes and institutional innovations transformed by the presence of the second generation “Bauhaus in Australia”
  3. create a major oral history resource through interviews with remaining students and colleagues of influential émigré modernist educators, theorists and practitioners
  4. retrace original art, architecture and design educational influences at their archival sources in Germany and central Europe, providing comprehensive insight into the origin and development of modernist aesthetic ideas and philosophies brought to Australia, and how these ideas were transformed in and by the Australian context
  5. consolidate Australian-German collaborative research links and strengthen the international presence of modernist scholarship emerging from Australia.

In pursuing these aims, the project will have the following outcomes:

  1. contributions to relevant scholarly literature, including journal papers, articles, and a book manuscript
  2. two international collaborative workshops (Dessau and Melbourne)
  3. a web-based resource that links research findings, events, collaborating institutions and archival collections
  4. two fully-developed exhibition proposals of national interest, with both planned to tour nationally, with one of these comprising the Australian component of the international Bauhaus centenary celebration.
  5. a new history that, through education, highlights the interdisciplinary legacy of Australian modernism.

Project details

Major Sponsor

Australian Research Council (Discovery Project)

Associated Research Hubs, Centres and Institutes

Australian Centre for Architectural History, Urban and Cultural Heritage

Research Partners

Queensland University of Technology
The University of Sydney
RMIT University
Jacobs University, Bremen

Project Team

Prof Philip Goad (University of Melbourne)
Prof Andrew McNamara (QUT)
Dr Ann Stephen (Syd)
Prof Harriet Edquist (RMIT)
Prof Isabel Wunsche (Jacobs University, Bremen)


Prof Philip Goad (University of Melbourne)