12. November | 2020 - 14. November | 2020

Update: The conference will be postponed to 2021!

The Great Strength of the Collective! Collaborative Working in Architecture from the 20th Century to the Present

The creation of architecture – from the first sketch to the built space – is always a result of an expert group working together. This idea indeed corresponds to a basic socialist understanding: Especially, the GDR attributed a “great strength” to collaborative working in architecture to achieve highest qualities, as the “political architect” Benny Heumann stated in 1961. However, even independently of the prevailing political ideologies, architects do not work in isolation from one another. Every planning stage and area of work of planners is interconnected and dependent on each other. In different temporal and social contexts, the collaboration of planners was differently addressed – be it in the creation of collectives, teams or communities. In contradiction to this necessity of collaborative work in the planning process is the depiction of the master builder as a singular universal genius, as the professional image of the architect since the Renaissance suggests. We take this tension between collaborative work in the planning context and the demand for a designing architect, to whom a work can be clearly attributed, as an impetus for a conference examining the organizational forms, practices and depictions of collaborative working of architects in the 20th century. In this context, the following questions are foregrounded but the topic can also be supplemented by other aspects: How do architects work together with each other and other actors in the course of planning? Which methods of collaborative work have specifically been developed in the context of architecture and how do they relate to expectations regarding the occupational profile of architects? How does this special kind of working express itself in historical depictions? To what extend do social expectations, utopias and ideals shape the collaborative work of architects? Did technical innovations also change collaborative work? And which patterns and examples of historical collaborative work play a role as a reference point for contemporary, international forms of joint architectural creation?

The conference takes place within the research project “Architectural and Planning Collectives of the GDR. Institutional Structures and Creative Processes in the Socialist Production of Architecture”, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The conference is designed to extend the investigated forms, influences and developments of collective work of architects in the GDR by new perspectives and approaches in relation to present time as well as on an international level.



The conference will not take place as planned from 12. – 13. November 2020, but will be postponed for one year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS)
and the Centre for Heritage Conservation Studies and Technologies at the University of Bamberg