Functional architecture. The harmonious, symbiotic relationship between the architecture of a building, its interiors, and the setting. Mies van der Rohe’s now famous diktat: Less is more.

Like an invisible hand, these ideals form the very basis of modernist architecture and design that we take for granted. The legacy of a design philosophy that began a century ago in the Bauhaus school.

Founded in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus is widely regarded today as one of the most important developments in architecture and design. Gropius’s goal was to bridge and seal the gap between craftsmanship and architecture, so that one no longer built a house, but rather, one invoked its totality, the Bauhaus, or ‘house of building’.

Bauhaus students took workshops in pottery, typography, metalwork, weaving and carpentry, with many taught by progressive intellectuals like Paul Klee and Marcel Breuer, who would become giants in their fields. When the school was forced to close in 1933 by the Nazis, Mies van der Rohe, the school’s last director, and all its teachers scattered across the world.

Gropius, Breuer and Mies van der Rohe eventually landed in America where their teachings would form the vanguard for the modernist movement; and, over the next few decades would harness the legacy of the Bauhaus to produce enduring classics such as the Seagram building in Manhattan and Farnsworth House in Illinois.


A century later, the Bauhaus influence is far reaching and nowhere more so than in Cuscaden Reserve. Rising 28-storeys, the sleek glass tower with its distinctive gold fins was conceived as a timely homage to the Bauhaus. For lead architect Soo Chan of SCDA, the rigours of the Bauhaus discipline has long been a driving force in his practice, not least because he had studied under Leslie Laskey at Washington University, who was a protégé of Lázló Moholy-Nagy, one of the Bauhaus teachers.

Together with long-time collaborator SC Global, his vision for Cuscaden Reserve is that of a unified and coherent ensemble where Bauhaus principles are developed to suit modern needs. With changes in family structures and how people live, Mies van der Rohe’s open plan concept for the Farnsworth House is relevant once more, as the paradigm of spaces defined by fixed partitions becomes obsolete and new typologies emerge.

Flexibility is at the heart of Cuscaden Reserve with apartments designed around a centralised core comprising the kitchen, bathroom and the like. This allows maximum adaptability as sliding doors create, at will, bespoke spaces and mood.

“The result is a perfect integration with the interior to complete the design experience.”

Just as Bauhaus practitioners took control of a project, SCDA’s team customised and designed all millworks, and worked with artisans to craft cabinetry and woodworks. The lush foregrounds and the landscaping were curated to their precise diktats. In a gentle nod to Marcel Breuer, the tower is lifted off the ground in a cantilevered fashion to allow the landscape to literally flow under and through it.

The result is a design in harmony with its location, and a tribute to the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus.

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