Konrad Wachsmann and the Grapevine Structure

by Christian Sumi (Editor), Marianne Burkhalter (Editor), Fabio Gramazio (Contributor), Matthias Kohler (Contributor), Andreas Burkhalter (Contributor), Marko Pogacnik (Contributor), Hannes Mayer (Contributor)

German modernist architect Konrad Wachsmann (1901–1980) had a career-spanning interest in construction processes—in particular the prefabrication of building components and their assembly within modular systems. In this respect, Wachsmann was a pioneer whose ideas and work paved the way for today’s industrialized construction. Many contemporary masters, such as Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, have taken inspiration from and paid homage to Wachsmann’s forward-thinking work.

With Konrad Wachsmann and the Grapevine Structure, Swiss architect Christian Sumi synthesizes years of careful research into a compelling look at the career and lifetime contributions of this highly creative architect. At the core of the book is Wachsmann’s dynamic Grapevine Structure of 1953, a universal construction element developed with students during his tenure at the Chicago Institute of Design—part of what is today the Illinois Institute of Technology. The book also investigates Wachsmann’s Packaged House System, his furniture designs, his relocatable hangars for the US Air Force, and, in particular, the Local Orientation Manipulator (LOM), an apparatus for the automated assembly of building components developed in 1969 with John Bollinger and Xavier Mendoza at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Fabio Gramazio, Matthias Kohler, and Hannes Mayer of Gramazio Kohler Research revisit the LOM from a contemporary perspective where robotic fabrication processes have become increasingly common. The book also features an essay by Andreas Burkhalter on Wachsmann’s legendary knotted joints in the context of possible similar structures in the human brain and by Marko Pogacnik on the significance of Wachsmann’s lectures at the Salzburg Summer Academy in the late 1950s.

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