The Art Of Joining
Konrad Wachsmann


Assembly System By Joseph Paxton, Crystal Palace, 1851

©Konrad Wachsmann

The art of joining seems to me a good title for what I may call a minor manifesto. As an aftershock of the Industrial Revolution or even in between, the "Great Industrial Exhibition in 1851" which was sponsored and inaugurated not only in its content but also its envelope, so to speak, by Queen Victoria. This act was a formidable contribution to the civilisation of mankind which cannot be overestimated. And, to nobody's surprise, the art of building today has since that time really developed and progressed accordingly in a remarkable way. In addition to the availability of new energy resources such as nuclear energy, whose first plant was built in England and, by the way, this time personally inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II and those great achievements in the sciences, open almost unlimited avenues of approach which men now can master and which may make us look into the future with confidence. Of course, there will always remain arguments concerning principles which could be disputed. For instance, such as arts and crafts versus science and technology. Or, one could speak about emerging new philosophies, influenced by political, social, economical, scientific or technological, and consequently design principles, all of them triggered by the mass market, automation, time and motion phenomena’s, universal communication and information media; certainly not to forget the all-controlling computer sciences as well as soft and hard-ware, and higher quality demands for artificially, man-invented, synthetic materials and so on and so on.


Konrad Wachsmann, 1980

©Monica Pidgeon

This reminds me that, more than fifty years ago, I built with my hands, and my tools of course, no more than a product of the primitive crafts: a desk, and the space for it, the room and the house and the garden, and all of it for Albert Einstein. This desk was specially designed for him to work on his "Unified Electrical Field Theory". Around this time, he once said "The reason why this world is not entirely perfect may be that God as creator spent too much time of the six days available on geometry and their like." This made nature indeed a system of perfect ordering systems, but left considerable room for improvement of the behaviour patterns of the human species. I still remember how I laughed aloud, visualising the Supreme Geometer. But later I began to realise that a certain mysterious basic formula may also help us the builders to better understand, organise and control the artificial man-made environment which we intend to create. I myself do not have the necessary scientific and inter-disciplinary universal knowledge to cope with such Big Bang problems as to structure a fundamental equation, revealing the true nature of building, but not only restricted to the gravitational law. Also realising that in any way one individual person may not be able to approach such task, I can therefore only suggest or hope, in this little manifesto, that teams and super teams may join to search for such abstract formula.

Thanks for previewing this talk

If you would like to view the whole talk please follow one of the following links


Or if you already have an account: