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UNESCO World Heritage

What is a World Heritage Site?

Under the guiding principle, "Because wars arise from the minds of men, peace must also be anchored in the minds of men," the UN specialized agency UNESCO was founded in London on November 16, 1945 as an association of 37 states. The Second World War had deeply shaken the world, spawning the recognition that such a disaster must be prevented in the future. With its four central programs in the fields of education, science, culture, as well as communication and information, UNESCO still to this day pursues the ambitious goal of contributing to peace and security through intercultural cooperation. There are now 193 UNESCO member states headquartered in Paris who work together to promote the philosophy that education is a human right and that culture is foundational to our identity. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites see themselves in this regard as educational venues for the global community, where intercultural encounters are possible and cultural diversity can be experienced at the sensory level.

Expansion of the Bauhaus World Heritage Site

The Bauhaus is still today recognized across the world as a symbol of the blossoming of modernity, whose worldwide impact developed out of Germany. The Bauhaus exemplifies the efforts of modern builders to generate architecture that is both appropriate to the times and reduced to its functionality, using new materials and construction methods. As early as 1996, UNESCO recognized the former Grand Ducal Saxon School of Arts and Crafts (Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstgewerbeschule), which housed the Bauhaus from 1919 to 1925 (now Bauhaus University Weimar) and the Haus am Horn in Weimar, as well as the Bauhaus building and the seven Master Houses in Dessau, as a Bauhaus World Heritage Site. In 2017, the World Heritage Site was expanded to include the “Laubenganghäuser” in Dessau-Törten and the former ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau-Waldfrieden. The two building complexes are the only remnants of the Bauhaus that were built under the direction of the second Bauhaus director, Hannes Meyer. They embody the Bauhaus' commitment to include all of its workshops in the planning and construction process — a guiding vision that Gropius himself conceived when he founded the Bauhaus in 1919, but never achieved. Since its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Bauhaus Monument Bernau has also been included within name of the Bauhaus World Heritage Site: "The Bauhaus and its sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau."

Significance of the ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau

The ADGB Trade Union School in Bernau-Waldfrieden, designed by Hannes Meyer and Hans Wittwer and which opened on May 4, 1930 after a construction period of almost two years, is a work of the internationally renowned Bauhaus in Dessau. Hannes Meyer was the director of the Bauhaus throughout the entire period of the building’s planning and construction, and was the successor to Walter Gropius, the founder and first director of the Bauhaus. With Meyer's appointment as director, the focus of the art school shifted toward the scientific aspects of construction (architecture) and interior design (mural painting, furniture design, weaving).


During the construction of the Trade Union School, Meyer was for the first time able to realize his ideal of combining pedagogy and practice within the building process. To this end, Meyer involved not only his architecture-office partner Hans Wittwer (who had led the Bauhaus building class since 1928), but also all Bauhaus students in the architecture class. Wittwer and his students worked day and night on the planning, project management, and interior design of the Trade Union School in a construction office set up for this purpose at #106 Wilhelmstraße in Berlin. In addition, the students also acquired direct practical experience on the Bernau construction site.


The experiments with then-novel building materials (exposed concrete, steel, and glass), as well as the reduction to simple geometric shapes and the embedding of the building complex in the natural environment, made the ADGB Trade Union School, both then and now, a unique building of classical modernism. It is therefore not surprising that these same features that convinced the ADGB in 1928 could also compel UNESCO to designate the former ADGB Trade Union School as a World Heritage Site in 2017.