Employment Office
Employment Office

Commissioned by the City of Dessau and the Reich Institute for Employment and Unemployment Benefits, Walter Gropius and his office took on the task of building an employment office, which at that time was a completely new concept.

Rationalised flow of movement

The employment services were located in the low semi-circular building, while the two-storey building housed the administration department. A single-storey structure with adjoining rooms completed these two buildings. The administration department, career guidance, and employment services with a cashier were in separate parts of the building.

Jobseekers were guided through different entrances and waiting areas and divided into groups according to their occupation and gender. Job placement interviews were held in individual offices. Applicants who were accepted for a job went out directly via the corridor, while others were directed to the area where unemployment benefits were paid out. The Unemployment Office in Dessau has several entrances to ensure faster working processes. People who were looking for employment were not to be subjected to the social exclusion implied by waiting in long queues in front of the Employment Office.

Light-filled spaces

The building, with its steel skeleton structure, is a ground-breaking example of functionalist architecture. Although daylight originally only entered the windowless circular building from above, it is surprisingly light inside. This is because of the glass saw-tooth roof, the skylight strips along the interior walls, and the light, glazed brick walls.

Yellow brick

The yellow bricks make reference to the neighbouring region of Bitterfeld-Wolfen. The high-quality raw material, a leather-coloured clay, was discovered during the development of lignite deposits near Greppin around 1850. However, the yellow bricks used to build the Employment Office are not from Greppin, where brick production stopped in 1920.

There is no conclusive evidence of the origins of the yellow bricks and why they were used for the Employment Office in Dessau. However, in 1911 Walter Gropius had built his first modern industrial building, the Fagus Works in Alfeld, using yellow bricks in combination with dark steel frame windows. The Dessau Employment Office thus belongs to the series of important industrial buildings designed by Walter Gropius’ office. At the same time, the choice of material refers to the history of industrialisation in the Anhalt region.


In 1936, windows were added to the circular building. The shape of the building complex makes reference to the Askanischer Platz, which was triangular at the time. However, as this square was redesigned after the Second World War, the original connection is no longer recognisable.

The building was refurbished in 2002/03, and ever since has been used as the headquarters of the Office of Order and Transport of the city of Dessau.