Bauhaus Lab 2018
The Art of Joining: Designing the Universal Connector

9 August – 30 November 2018
10 am – 5 pm
Bauhaus Building

Konrad Wachsmann’s universal connector is a metal connecting node utilised in the construction of prefabricated houses, devised under the shadow cast by the Second World War. It was first used in 1949, in the General Panel System designed by Wachsmann and Walter Gropius. For Wachsmann, the connector combined his interest in the rationalisation and standardisation of architecture with concepts of universal applicability. Like almost no other, Wachsmann advanced the industrialisation of architecture and the possibilities associated with it to arrive at a turning point in architecture.

Over three months the Bauhaus Lab 2018 has explored the universal connector’s historic relevance to modern architecture, especially in the context of the transatlantic discourses of postwar modernism. To conclude the Lab, interested students as well as architects, designers, cultural scientists and curators were invited to a symposium to discuss the architecture of systems, the ambivalent legacy of prefabrication and the relevance of the “turning point” in architecture with designers, historians, scientists and the participants of the Bauhaus Lab 2018.

For the exhibition eight young designers, curators and scientists have over the past three months conducted research into Wachsmann’s universal connector as the cornerstone of an industrialised building system. In doing so, they investigated the historic context and transatlantic discourses of postwar modernism that are bundled in the metallic connector. By searching archives and traveling to Berlin, Ulm, Boston and Chicago, the participants tracked down Wachsmann’s fields of endeavour. They now present their findings in the exhibition The Art of Joining. Designing the Universal Connector in the Bauhaus Building in Dessau.

Thursday, 9 August 2018
11 am – 4 pm

The guests will include: Suzanne Strum (architectural historian, Barcelona), Douglas Murphy (architect and author, London), Christian Sumi (architect, Zurich) and Georg Vrachliotis (Professor of Architectural Theory, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and the Bauhaus Lab participants 2018: Elizabeth Andrzejewski, Phillip Denny, Rhiannon Haycock, Ezgi Isbilen, Adam Przywara, Eva-Maria Offermann, Daniel Springer, Lisi Zeininger.

The symposium will be held in English. Participation is free. No registration required.


11 – 12.30 am
The Architecture of Systems

Introduction: Regina Bittner
Statements: Georg Vrachliotis, Suzanne Strum
Discussion with the Bauhaus Lab participants

1.30  3 pm
The contested legacy of prefabrication

Statement: Douglas Murphy
Discussion with the Bauhaus Lab participants

– 4 pm
The topicality of the “turning point of building”

Statement: Christian Sumi
Discussion with the Bauhaus Lab participants

5 pm
Exhibition opening
Bauhaus Building