Monday, July 16, 2012

Day trip to Dornach

Much has been said about Rudolf Steiner and his anthroposophical work. Last weekend I finally made a field trip to Dornach. Steiner’s peculiar style populated the whole area with his own creations as well as the ones by his followers. I felt myself being in a parallel universe with all the mystery and fantasy.
The Goetheanum and its surroundings

The Goetheanum is a badass monster. It sits on top of a rising slope like a crouching sphinx, or a metamorphic grotesque. This massive reinforced concrete construction is the replacement of a former wooden structure destroyed by fire on New Year's Eve 1922/23. The current building was built between 1925-28 on the basis of a model made by Steiner, and constant developments (including most of the interior work) were undertaken over the 70 years after its opening in 1928.
West entrance
Door handles of the ground floor auditorium
Handrail detail of the west staircase

My favorite part of the building is the west staircase. Here, you see dramatic forms that are results of both structure and expression. The rough concrete texture reveals traces of board formed construction. I have to say, my jaw dropped when I came to realize they were doing all this fascinating stuff in the 1920s!
West staircase
The red window

The center of the building is the main auditorium with 1,000 seats. The interior we see today was not finished until 1998, developed by sculptor/painter Christian Hitsch and architect Ulrich Oelssner with concept and principles of the auditorium in the first Goetheanum. It is everything fantasy. The shotcrete (sprayed concrete) walls and pillars in seven metamorphosis sculptural forms, the richly painted ceiling that shows motifs of human evolution from the creation through the different cultural periods to the present day, the dramatic lighting and the colored glass windows that represent the rise of the individual to higher knowledge… (They call these the “three motifs of development”: cosmic evolution, development of humanity, and individual development.)
The elm wood doors to the main auditorium
Main auditorium
The main stage

Staircase in the South Wing
South stairwell with gradient colors
Wood sculpture “The Representation of Man” on the fifth floor of the South Wing

Around the Goetheanum there are also many smaller buildings designed by Steiner. The boiler house was built in 1915 with the first Goetheanum as the first concrete building on the site. The chimney is supposed to resemble a rising flame. But with the double cupolas, it looks like something else! What were people smoking back in the days?
The boiler house

The transformer house is located at an intersection downhill. It’s a small structure with interesting shapes. Oh, are those stacked gable roofs? You thought our boys were innovative.
The transformer house

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