An eco-smart cultural project for Europe

New EU goals on making the European Green Deal vision for sustainable construction and architecture, include the launch of the European Bauhaus movement – a collaborative design and creative space, where architects, artists, students, scientists, engineers and designers can work together to make the vision a reality.


Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world. To overcome these challenges, Europe needs a new growth strategy that will transform the Union into a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy, where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, economic growth is decoupled from resource use and no person or place is left behind. The European Commission’s Green Deal is the EU’s plan to make the EU’s economy sustainable. We can do this by turning climate and environmental challenges into opportunities, and making the transition just and inclusive for all.

As part of this drive, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has announced plans to create a new Bauhaus modelled on the influential design school as part of the European Union’s €750 billion coronavirus recovery plan. Within this, the EU President outlined her plan to create a “new European Bauhaus” to kickstart a cultural and sustainable movement in the European Union. “We will set up a new European Bauhaus – a co-creation space where architects, artists, students, engineers, designers work together,” she said.

Bauhaus: a century later

The New European Bauhaus, which takes its name from the hugely influential German design school founded by Walter Gropius in 1919, will be part of the €750 billion NextGenerationEU investment and recovery plan put in place following the coronavirus pandemic. By combining art and practicality, the ingenious avant-garde of the Bauhaus literally helped shape the social and economic transition to an industrial society and the 20th century.

A hundred years later, the world is  facing new global challenges: climate change, pollution, digitalization and a demographic explosion predicted to increase the world’s population to up to 10 billion people by mid-century, according to Ursula von der Lyon. The EU Commission sees these developments as going hand in hand with a seemingly limitless economic growth at the expense of our wellbeing, the planet and its limited natural resources.

Buildings and infrastructures are responsible for at least 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Modern constructions are largely based on cement and steel, which both consume an immense amount of energy to produce and even directly releases CO2 through chemical reactions. The Commission’s statement said  Europe can and must play a leading role in this. “That is why we have made the European Green Deal our priority. It opens up a host of new opportunities and is our new growth strategy. The headline goal is for Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent in 2050.This will require more than cutting emissions. We need an economic model that gives back to the planet what it takes away from it through a circular economy that is powered by renewable energy.”

Apart from being more than an environmental or economic project, the European Green Deal is seen as being a new cultural project for Europe. Every movement has its own look and feel. And this systemic change needs its own aesthetics – blending design and sustainability. The launch of the European Bauhaus movement – a collaborative design and creative space, where architects, artists, students, scientists, engineers and designers – aspires to seeing all players working together to make this vision a reality.

The Commission and its President states the New European Bauhaus will be a driving force to bring the European Green Deal to life in an attractive, and innovative and human-centered way. It will be a movement based on sustainability, accessibility and aesthetics to bring the European Green Deal closer to people and make recycling, renewable energies and biodiversity natural.

“People should be able to feel, see and experience the European Green Deal. Whether thanks to a construction industry that uses natural materials such as wood or bamboo. Or architecture that adopts near-natural forms and construction principles, that considers ecosystems from the outset, that enables and plans for sustainability and reusability. The new European Bauhaus should also take advantage of the other revolutionary megatrend of our century. Digitization is increasingly changing the way we think and act. In the future, houses, settlements and cities will work and function better thanks to their “digital twin”. Computer simulations will make it possible to improve design decisions in terms of resource efficiency, reusability or impact on the environment and local climate. The goal is to achieve climate-neutral cities that are more liveable.”

“Like the historic Bauhaus movement that spread around the world from Weimar, the New European Bauhaus is intended to be more than just a school of architecture that uses new technologies and techniques. The groundbreaking success of the Bauhaus would not have been conceivable without the bridge to the world of art and culture, or to the social challenges of the time. The old Bauhaus proved that industry and good design can improve the daily life of millions of people.
The New European Bauhaus should trigger a similar dynamic. It should show that the necessary can be beautiful at the same time, that style and sustainability go together. We must leave familiar paths and change our perspective. The New European Bauhaus will create the space for this.
In the next two years, an initial five European Bauhaus projects will be created in different countries of our Union. All of them will commit to sustainability, but with different focus. Their focus can range from natural building materials and energy efficiency, to demographics, future-oriented mobility or resource-efficient digital innovation; always combined with culture and art. As creative, experimental labs and docking points for European industries, they will be the starting point for a European and worldwide network that maximizes economic, ecological and social impact beyond the individual Bauhaus.”

Ursula von der Lyon concluded: “I would like to see the New European Bauhaus kick-start a creative and interdisciplinary movement that develops aesthetic as well as functional standards – in sync with state-of-the-art technology, environment and climate. If we manage to combine sustainability with good design, then the European Green Deal will be given a boost – even beyond our borders. It should stimulate debate on new construction methods and design forms. It should experiment and provide practical answers to the social question of what modern life in harmony with nature can look like for Europeans. It will help to make our 21st century more beautiful and humane.”