Bauhaus Lab 2018:
The universal connector: Building systems after the Bauhaus

7 May – 9 August 2018

“In winter 1941 in Lincoln, Mass. Walter Gropius and I decided to develop an ideally universal building system for industrial applications, which later became known as the General Panel System.” For Konrad Wachsmann, the focus here was not on a specific housing type, but on a universal building system consisting of standardised connectors and standardised sections.

The Bauhaus Lab 2018 is now engaged in research into the universal wedge connectors that underpin this building system, patented in 1944 in the USA, as elements of a new architecture capable of spanning vast spaces.

Like virtually no other modern architect, Wachsmann advanced the industrialisation of architecture and the associated possibilities of a turning point in architecture. He envisioned a new, gravity-defying space, liberated from the mass and monumentality of conventional architecture. The universal combinatorics and maximum flexibility of the prefabricated connectors had the potential to make everyone a designer of the built environment. Wachsmann’s vision extended far beyond industrial construction, and came into its own from the 1960s in the ‘test-tube cities’ of mass housing construction programmes.

The international participants of the Bauhaus Lab 2018 investigate the elements and discourses bundled in the metallic connector: Social positions such as ‘housing for all’ are just as much part of the DNA of prefabrication as technological visions of architecture as a medium of universal connectivity. The exhibition put together at the Bauhaus from the findings of the research forms an open system that provides points of reference for the assembly of contemporary housing.

Eight participants, young professionals from the fields of architecture, design, art, and curatorial practice, have been selected by an international jury. The program will end with a joint exhibition at the Bauhaus Dessau.