As an architect Steiner designed two major works: the first Goetheanum (built in wood, and destroyed by arson in 1922) and the second Goetheanum (built in concrete and finished in 1928, after Steiner’s death), both of which are counted among the masterpieces of expressionist architecture of the early twentieth century (Moravánszky, 2012). In addition, he designed a dozen smaller buildings. His architecture combines function with the organic forms of nature, and shows considerable family resemblance with the works of other architects and artists from the art nouveau/expressionist tradition, such as Antoni Gaudi.
In his writing on architecture, Steiner linked architecture to the struggle and spiritual development of humanity. Like Steiner’s work in many other fields, his writing on architecture is spread out over many different lectures and articles produced over a long period of time, and his thinking about art and architecture does not present one, single whole. Tharaldsen (2010) gives the first comprehensive presentation of Steiner’s architectural and aesthetic ideas in relation to similar currents in twentieth-century architecture and art, such as is seen in the work of the Bauhaus school, Louis Sullivan, and Joseph Beuys.
Although Steiner developed the principles of Waldorf education and took an active part in establishing the first Waldorf schools, he did not design school buildings. Over time, however, the Waldorf school movement, which today counts 1000 schools worldwide, has given rise to a large number of buildings. Today, school buildings are probably Steiner’s main stylistic legacy as an architect. Named after Steiner’s major works and reflecting the significant inspiration he received from Goethe, this architectural style is called Goetheanian style.
From “Room for Thinking—The Spatial Dimension of Waldorf Education” by Margunn Bjørnholt, from RoSE, Research on Steiner Education.
“The arrangement of our classrooms should tell us,
if we do not consciously know, what horizon
we have set for the next generation”.
-Mary Rose O’Reilly
Highland Hall Waldorf School, Northridge, California. Architect: Harley Ellis Devereaux.
Nant y Cwm Steiner School, Wales. Christopher Day, architect.
San Francisco Waldorf High School. Architect: 450 Architects Inc.
Expansion, Waldorf School of Orange County, California. Architect: S3
Music Hall, Widar School, Bochum, Germany. Architect: Klaus Rennert
San Vendemiano Waldorf School, Italy. Architect: Beppe Guasina
Espoon Steinerkoulu, Finland
Heidelberg Waldorf School, Germany. Architects: Frank-Rüdiger and Hildebrandt