Bauhaus Lab
Global Modernism Studies

The aim of the Bauhaus Lab is to create an interdisciplinary research community which addresses a topic from the field of global modernism over a three-month period. International career entrants and postgraduates from the fields of architecture and design as well as young curators and design researchers can apply. The eight participants are selected by an international jury.

Each Bauhaus Lab focuses on a modern design object that simultaneously serves as a thematic anchor and starting point for the collective mission of research. The programme is held in English and is free of charge. At the end of the three-month period the findings will be presented in the framework of a joint exhibition at the Bauhaus Dessau.


Konrad Wachsmann u. Walter Gropius, General-Panel-System, 1942/43, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, Foto: George H. Davis

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.


Symposium and exhibition
The Art of
Joining: Designing the Universal Connector

9 August 2018
10 am – 5 pm
Bauhaus Building

In the international symposium participants of the programme and invited scholars and architects will update the architectural discourse that surrounded the “universal connector.” In three round tables the participants of the Bauhaus Lab will discuss with Georg Vrachliotis (Karlsruhe), Suzanne Strum (Barcelona), Pedro Ignazio Alonso (Santiago de Chile tbc) and Douglas Murphy (Glasgow) the architecture of systems, the contested legacy of prefabrication and the topicality of the “turning point of building.”

9 August 2018
5 pm
Bauhaus Building

The participants of the Bauhaus Lab 2018 investigated the historical context and discourses of transatlantic postwar modernism bundled in the metal connector. The three month long research, which included excursions for on-site investigation and archival study, is culminated in an exhibition in the Bauhaus building. Its grid system juxtaposes the virtual three-dimensional grid that General Panel System inscribed in space with the DIN norms, the contemporary paragon of standardization.