In the quiet village of Jankowo, Poland, lies an architectural curiosity: a peculiar, abandoned granary that marks the early endeavors of a luminary in modern architecture, Walter Gropius, who later co-founded the Bauhaus movement. Designed by Gropius, this structure stands as a testament to his early years and the beginning of his revolutionary ideas.
Gropius was a budding architect when his uncle, Erich Gropius, entrusted him in 1905 with the task of designing agricultural and residential buildings for his estate in Jankowo. Despite being an architecture student at the time, Walter Gropius readily took up the challenge, designing the granary along with various other farm and residential buildings.
Among these early works, the Jankow Granary is the only building that stands unaltered featuring Gropius’s original design. This whimsical structure, reminiscent more of a cartoon castle than the later sleek Bauhaus designs, embodies the youthful experimentation of Gropius. Though other residential buildings in the vicinity, also attributed to him, still stand, they have been significantly altered over time.
Furthermore, a house designed by Gropius in nearby Drawsko Pomorskie also stands, adding to the narrative of his early architectural journey. Gropius himself jokingly referred to these initial projects as his “youthful sins.” However, these structures are likely the earliest surviving designs of an architect who would soon dramatically transform the landscape of modern architecture.
The Jankowo Granary, with its unique and somewhat eccentric design, not only tells the story of a great architect’s beginnings but also offers a rare glimpse into the transitional phase of architectural history, bridging the old and the new. This building stands as a physical representation of Gropius’s early explorations and a prelude to the Bauhaus movement that would sweep across the globe, changing the face of design and architecture forever.
Today the building has been closed for many years, but the outside can be viewed. In recent years, efforts have been made to restore the building given its cultural significance.