The first Goetheanum, a monumental double-domed wooden structure, richly carved and painted within, was begun in 1913. It opened in 1920 and was destroyed by fire on New Year's Eve 1922/23. In 1924 Rudolf Steiner presented his model for a second Goetheanum – the present one – made of reinforced concrete. Constructed between 1925 and 1928, it was the first large-scale building to employ this material for sculptural forms. Both buildings are based on an architectural concept in which each element, form and color bears an inner relation to the whole and the whole flows organically into its single elements in a process of metamorphosis. The second Goetheanum and its neighboring buildings were designed to harmonize with the local topography – the movement of the terrain and the rocky spurs of the Jura mountains visible from the Birs river valley, ten kilometers southeast of Basel.
High colored windows and the central west window indicate the large Main Auditorium and emphasise the uniqueness of its artistic and architectural qualities. A glance inside – reveal the expressive power of architecture, interior design, color and space.
East of the Auditorium and the stairwells, behind the stage is the wardrobe department with rooms for the creation, upkeep and storage of costumes, rehearsal stages and practice rooms, stage technology, and prop storage. To the north and south: conference and work rooms; bookstore, library and archives; Section and society offices; administration and conference offices; reception, information and cafeteria.
Surrounding the Goetheanum are other structures in an extensive garden: Section buildings, ateliers, research laboratories and an observatory; training centers and a student dormitory; garden building, workshops and construction offices; apartment houses, guest houses and, at the foot of the hill, the Speisehaus, a whole food restaurant.
Approximately 300 people work on the campus. Over 100 000 visitors come to the Goetheanum each year. The Goetheanum is like a work of sculpture or a living thing. It is a center for Culture and encounter.