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Tectonic Thinking in Contemporary Industrialized Architecture

Anne Beim


This paper argues for a new critical approach to the ways architectural design strategies are developing. Contemporary construction industry appears to evolve into highly specialized and optimized processes driven by industrialized manufacturing, therefore the role of the architect and the understanding of the architectural design process ought to be revised. The paper is based on the following underlying hypothesis: ‘Tectonic thinking – defined as a central attention towards the nature, the properties, and the application of building materials (construction) and how this attention forms a creative force in building constructions, structural features and architectural design (construing) – helps to identify and refine technology transfer in contemporary industrialized building construction’. (This definition of tectonic thinking forms part of a large, central research project: Towards a tectonic sustainable building practice, that is presently (2010- 2014) executed in collaboration between; The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Architecture, Aarhus School of Architecture, and The Danish Building Research Institute.)

Through various references from the construction industry, business theory and architectural practice the paper offers various analyses, comparisons and concrete design approaches. How architectural design processes and the tectonic design can benefit from Integrated Product Deliveries, mass-customization and Design for Disassembly is examined and discussed. The paper concludes by presenting a series of arguments that call for adaptable systems based on sufficient numbers of industrialized building products of high quality and a great variety of suppliers, and point at the need for optimizing our use of resources in order to reach sustainable solutions in architecture.

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