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Rosenthal Porcelain Factory Building

Architecture, 1967

Description of the artwork «Rosenthal Porcelain Factory Building»

The story of the acquaintance of Walter Gropius and the owner of the porcelain factory Philippe Rosenthal began with a bet that the architect lost. In 1967, Gropius came from America to the town of Selb in Bavaria to open the Rosenthal factory, for the building of which he created the project. In the production hall, he saw a plate, the edge of which was painted black. Philip Rosenthal began to convince Gropius that after firing, the black color would turn gold - he did not believe. It was decided: if Gropius sees with his own eyes the gold on this plate, he will create a pigsty project for the piglet Roro, which was presented to the owner of the factory that day. Of course, Gropius lost. And, of course, he drew a pigsty project, although it was implemented many years later, as an exhibit for the anniversary exhibition in honor of the centenary of the Bauhaus, which took place at the Rosenthal factory in 2019. It was no coincidence that the tableware manufacturing company joined these celebrations: Gropius and Rosenthal were linked by many years of friendship and several landmark projects that went down in the history of tableware architecture and design.

Before turning to Gropius with a proposal for cooperation, Philip Rosenthal considered several proposed projects for him to build a new factory in Selba. These were "Mechanical monsters that kill the mind and soul"said the industrialist. But the Gropius project shocked him: he became the embodiment of Rosenthal's idea of a bright and airy space, an ideal workplace where a person will feel comfortable.

Gropius and his Boston architecture bureau proposed building a single-story flat-roof building with huge windows and a single workspace for workers at the china factory. The central “winged” element making up the entrance made the building, when viewed from afar, more like a minimalist sculpture than an industrial workshop. Right under these concrete wings is an octagonal greenhouse, which can be seen from anywhere in the room - a resting place for the eyes and thoughts of workers. In the 1960s, when animal rights activists had not yet had time to take an active part against such exotic decisions, flamingos strolled around the conservatory of the Rosenthal factory. Then this choice was made regarding social responsibility and the creation of a humane workspace. In this matter, Rosenthal and Gropius turned out to be passionate like-minded people.

Not surprisingly, two years later, planning to build a new glassware factory in Amberg, Rosenthal again turned to Gropius.This buildingbecame the last project of the architect, the embodiment of which he no longer had time to see. Glass Cathedral, Glazier's Cathedral - it is often called that way. Avant-garde, Gothic, futuristic, sacred - it could become a religious institution or a museum of modern art. The one-story building is located in a hollow, only a massive gabled roof rises above the ground. At the same time, the rooms are flooded with natural light - thanks to the many windows located in the roof, and a completely transparent facade.

By the way, the cooperation of Gropius and Rosenthal, two ideologists and adherents of a whole, humane, aesthetically perfect production space, was not limited to two iconic buildings. According to the Gropius project, a TAS tea set was launched at a porcelain factory - another embodiment of the Bauhaus ideas about a perfect, functional, ascetic thing that combines new technologies, practical craftsmanship and the principles of art.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
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About the artwork

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Art form: Architecture

Date of creation: 1967

Location: Selb, Germany

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