Meyer, Hannes (1889–1954) By Xiong, Xiangnan
Hannes Meyer was a Swiss modernist architect, educator, and the second director of the Bauhaus from 1928 to 1930. He believed that architecture and planning are social issues and that modern architects and planners should serve the needs of the masses rather than those of the privileged class. This conviction directed him throughout his entire career.
Meyer was born on November 18, 1889, into an architectural dynasty in Basel. He was an apprentice mason and studied building at Basel Technical School for four years before going to Berlin in 1909, where he attended courses on town planning, economics, and land reform. Between 1912 and 1913 Meyer traveled to England, visiting and studying the garden cities of Letchworth, Bourneville, and Port Sunlight. By the time World War I broke out, Meyer had already completed his training in architecture and town planning. During the war he served in the Swiss army.
In 1919 Meyer received his first building commission: Freidorf housing estate near Basel, in which he used standardized building elements for the sake of economic efficiency. Meyer was appointed as master of architecture at the Bauhaus in 1927. A year later, he succeeded Walter Gropius as the director of the Dessau Bauhaus. He conducted an extensive reform of the Bauhaus curriculum, stressing practical experience and downplaying personal artistic concerns.