The Virtual Bauhaus Project
Bruce Damer's original idea of the VBH

May 28, 2004

I was thumbing through a great book on the bauhaus published in 1939 and this was in my mind when I wrote to you. I think that if we (or some of us) are to live within the medium of multi user virtual world cyberspace in the 21st century then perhaps there is a need for a new bauhaus, presenting design ideas in a space where gravity doesnt apply and where social interactivity, action, cognition, or knowledge representation are the embodied goals of the design challenge.

We tried a first attempt at this with TheU (1996), an architectural design competition inside a multi user virtual space. This competition was lead by Stuart Gold, a key member of our group here at DigitalSpace and an architect, who has a passion for this topic. The results of this competiton are on the net at:

Stuart next led the team on a 1999 project to construct a "virtual company headquarters" for none other than a Danish health insurance company in Copenhagen. This space actually won a couple of design awards. You can see a page about this project at:

So what do I think we could accomplish with "a Virtual Bauhaus"? How about a shared virtual space constructed for the following purposes:

1. To explore aspects of "life led in virtual space" in a place with no gravity, with the ability to navigate at great speed or "teleport", a richly social space, a space of rapid action, a space of cognitive confusion, overload or clarity, a space for art and personal expression, a place for business transactions.

2. To bridge the worlds of dimensional cyberspace with livingspaces in the physical world where products, interfaces, and the pictures on the walls are more crossing back and forth over the digital osmotic membrane. More physical product design will be informed by cyberspace experience.

3. As a play space for performance as a kind of new Theater of Totality.

I feel we could work both with a team of professionals from various fields and with students and youth with all-night energy, supported by sponsors, to build such a space that could be launched formally at INDEX 2005. This space would be online, easily accessible and changeable (contributable) by anyone with a web browser (could use a common plug in like Atmosphere). The space would change, morph over time as it would be "inhabited" in cyberspace (people meet each other in the space).  A number of locations can beam this space onto surfaces or caves for public sharing and to support installations. This could be a part of Ars Electronica and other festivals.

I know Stuart has thought about the architecture of the virtual for about as long as anyone and would have a lot to say here too.

Some googled examples:
László Moholy-Nagy Theater of Totality (at the Bauhaus 1924):

Reference to a Virtual Bauhaus installation from 1993:

Original email from first thoughts about the concept
May 19, 2004

Fra: Bruce Damer
Sendt: 19. maj 2004 19:31
Til: Kigge Hvid; 'Arnold Wasserman'; 'John Petersen'
Emne: Re: Hey Boys of the future
Hello Kigge et al,
I guess the only thing in my mind is.. how to create a "virtual design studio of the future" where physical products could be modeled in great detail, given behaviors, handled, tried out by the general public and the designs validated or changed before physical prototypes are even made. Of course this goes on all the time in CAD/CAM but most of this activity is hidden behind glass walls and doesnt involve the public until the physical prototypes are available.

What I think I am talking about is a 21st Century virtual net-based Bauhaus where the public could come and be exposed to design. I have been re-reading the history of the Bauhaus in both its locations and it seems that the hands on open access approach did help create that early 20th century design revolution.

If in this "virtual Bauhaus" one could allow anyone to submit design models or changes, it might get even more interesting.

We do a subset of this work for NASA today by modeling robots aboard the space station to test out features before they are constructed to fly.

Sound like a thought?


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This project site is supported by Bruce Damer
If you would like to be involved in this effort or have ideas about the concept please contact Bruce here.