Paper presentation on Building Identity at the Bauhaus

I’ll be presenting a paper jointly authored with Elena Giovanonni (Royal Holloway) and Emmanuella Plakoyiannaki (Vienna) at Henley Business School on Wednesday 2nd December at 13.00 (UK time). If you’d like to join, please email me (stephanie.decker[at] and I pass on the Teams link.

Title:                     Building Identity: Architextual Resources in the Identity Formation of the Bauhaus

Presenter(s):     Stephanie Decker, University of Bristol


The Bauhaus School of Design (1919-1933) provides us with a micro-historical case study of identity formation, an area that has not been widely explored. We analyse the engagement between organizational identity and architecture as they both take form. We highlight the importance of architecture as an identity resource for the new school, and develop a framework that highlights four distinct ways in which spatial and material resources can support (or obstruct) identity formation: instrumental, by providing a space for organising; aesthetic, by visually pleasing organisational members; symbolic, by offering meaningful representation of organisational ideas; and finally temporal, by being enduring over time. We refer to the combination of these four potential elements as architextual, as they create a frame of narratives and discourses across material resources, people, practices and ideas that are inherent in the ideation, construction and interpretation of material artefacts. In our case narrative we show how these architextual identity resources not only helped the Bauhaus to overcome threats to its existence as a new organisation, but also in turn spurred on the creation of further architextual identity resources, not only helping to form and refine the school’s identity, but also facilitating multiple and shifting organizational identities over time. Finally, we show that architextual identity resources exist alongside other more commonly used resources such as discursive invocations of identity, but highlight that in particular the symbolic and temporal nature of architextual identity resources means that they remained pivotal and facilitated the emergence of a strong legacy when the Bauhaus was disbanded as an organisation after 14 years, while its influence as one of the leading design movements of the twentieth century endured.