Hannes Meyer was considered a radical leftist representative of interwar modernism. He was briefly director of the Bauhaus Dessau and then a university lecturer in the Soviet Union.
He began with an apprenticeship as a bricklayer and stonemason as well with training as a draughtsman and construction manager in Basel, Switzerland. This was followed by studies in Berlin, work as an architect for the Krupp company in Essen, Germany and repeatedly sought proximity to social democratic and left-wing circles in Switzerland.
In 1927, he was employed in Dessau as a "master architect" and became director of the Bauhaus in 1928, succeeding Walter Gropius. Due to his left-wing orientation, he pursued the idea of living in small flats more than Gropius. In addition, during his short time as director, the Bauhaus made many international contacts, primarily with left-wing architects. This was the reason that he was dismissed on 1 August 1930 for political reasons and Mies van der Rohe became his successor.
He spent six years in Moscow from 1930 to 1936, followed in 1931 by his partner Margarete Mengel and their son Johannes. As Meyer fell out of favour due to the strengthening Stalinism, he returned to Switzerland. Since his wife had German citizenship, she was not granted a visa for Switzerland and was executed in the Soviet Union in 1938. The son was sent to an orphanage and got to know of his mother's death not until 1993.
Hannes Meyer wanted to emigrate to Spain, but this was not possible due to the Franco coup. So in 1939 he followed the call of the Mexican government and became the director of the newly founded Institute for Urban Planning and Design in Mexico City. This activity was completely focused on theory. In 1949 he returned to Switzerland.