the manner of a mass-produced piece of machinery. In addition to this philosophy, the aesthetics of the Bauhaus building also reflects the principle of “functionalism,” meaning that the form of a building must be primarily derived not from pure aesthetic consideration, but from the expression of its intended function. This became the basis of the Modernist’s architectural maxim “form follows function.”
Buildings designed in the Art-Deco-based Streamline Moderne style share many similarities with buildings designed in the Modern-based Bauhaus style, as both styles share a common form- follow-function aesthetic principle as well as the same construction technology using reinforced concrete, which became common since the 1920s. All these commonalities gave rise to similar tectonics between buildings of the Streamline Moderne and the Bauhaus styles. As such, it is hardly surprising that the two styles of buildings look remarkably similar to laypeople, who, more often than not, tend to label Streamline Moderne under the more well-known “Bauhaus” moniker. However, there are telling differences between the two styles, the most distinctive of which are:
(1) Form and Facade (figs. 25 and 26)
Streamline Moderne: Bauhaus:
The façade and often the entire building form are symmetrical. The composition of the building form and all elevations are
(2) Wall Corners and Surfaces (figs. 25 and 26)
Wall corners are rounded and the central feature of the building (which is usually the stair core) has curved wall surfaces. Rectilinear wall corners and surfaces throughout the building.
Figs. 25 and 26: Symmetrical and rounded Wan Chai Market (1937) vs. asymmetrical and rectilinear Bauhaus School of Design in Dessau (1926). (Image source: (fig. 25) Hong Kong Urban Renewal Authority; (fig. 26) http://www.arch.mcgill.ca)
(3) Character Defining Streamline Moderne:
Features (figs. 27 and 28) Sun-shading fins in the form of horizontal cantilevered slabs to emphasize the horizontality of the building form. Sometimes the fins come in the form of vertical cantilevered slabs projecting from the sides of fenestrations to emphasize the verticality of certain parts of a building, such as a central vertical feature. A large glazed area, either in the form of a curtain wall or a large window, to emphasize on the transparency of the building. This glazed area is often framed by a rectangular grid (window mullion or sun- shading fins).