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Refabricating Architecture: How Manufacturing Methodologies are Poised to Transform Building Construction 1st Edition
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Preoccupation with image and a failure to look at process has led entire generations of architects to overlook transfer technologies and transfer processes. Kieran and Timberlake argue that the time has come to re-evaluate and update the basic design and construction methods that have constrained the building industry throughout its history. They skillfully demonstrate that contemporary architectural construction is a linear process, in both design and construction, where segregation of intelligence and information is the norm. They convince the reader to look at the automobile, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries to learn how to incorporate collective intelligence and nonhierarchical production structures. Those industries have proven to be progressively economic, efficient, and they yield a higher quality product while the production of buildings stagnates in the methods and practices of the nineteenth century. The transfer they envision is the complete integration of design with the craft of assembly supported by the materials scientist, the product engineer, and the process engineer, all using the tools of present information science as the central enabler.The new architecture will not be about style, but rather about substance -- about the very methods and processes that underlie making.
Implacable sculpture made by ancient methods is no way to build now, say architects Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake...the partners claim that a new industrial revolution ought to transform the way buildings are planned, designed, constructed, and operated.. .
In short, they want to redesign design.. .
Why do ships, cars, planes, and spaceships keep getting better, while buildings don't budge? Part of the problem is that architects don't fully exploit "transfer technologies" -- that is they don't mine fields outside their niche. To speed the progress, Kieran Timberlake tries to turn down projects with "obvious" solutions and has, for the past two years, run a tiny inhouse think tank for nonapplied research.... .
SmartWrap, exhibited last fall at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, is one fruit of the 55-person firm's collaboration with students and with manufacturers such as DuPont. The project, resembling gift-wrapped scaffolding, showcased a "first-generation prototype" of a potential building material that absorbs energy and then uses it to heat, cool, light, decorate, and communicate. .... .
...the firm's proudest achievement is the new addition to Penn's engineering school. Their plot to undermine architecture emerges in their new book refabricating Architecture,."
Few architects have considered building construction...as carefully and insightfully...opportunity to improve...quality and speed of construction and design.
By using thoughtfully designed elements...buildings can be "produced" in less time and at less cost while remaining true to good design and the needs of the space.
Excerpts from "Get Smart section of magazine by Barbara Flanagan
Implacable sculpture made by ancient methods is no way to build now, say architects Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake...the partners claim that a new industrial revolution ought to transform the way buildings are planned, designed, constructed, and operated.
In short, they want to redesign design.
Why do ships, cars, planes, and spaceships keep getting better, while buildings don't budge? Part of the problem is that architects don't fully exploit "transfer technologies" -- that is they don't mine fields outside their niche. To speed the progress, Kieran Timberlake tries to turn down projects with "obvious" solutions and has, for the past two years, run a tiny inhouse think tank for nonapplied research...
SmartWrap, exhibited last fall at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, is one fruit of the 55-person firm's collaboration with students and with manufacturers such as DuPont. The project, resembling gift-wrapped scaffolding, showcased a "first-generation prototype" of a potential building material that absorbs energy and then uses it to heat, cool, light, decorate, and communicate. ...
...the firm's proudest achievement is the new addition to Penn's engineering school. Their plot to undermine architecture emerges in their new book refabricating Architecture.
From the Publisher
- Publisher : McGraw Hill; 1st edition (December 2, 2003)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 007143321X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0071433211
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.9 x 0.57 x 8.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #763,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #237 in Industrial Manufacturing
- #692 in Architectural Drafting & Presentation
- #1,325 in Home Design & Construction (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Whether you’re an architect yourself or not, I highly recommend this book as a means of understanding how the indurations of the world around us (should) work.
I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the works of KieranTimberlake and have already purchased almost all I could find online. Thank you, great minds!
I first found it humorous, even counter-intuitive that a widespread examination of an industry's operations would finish its penultimate paragraph measuring success by the elimination of perhaps its smallest afterthought (literally, the punch-list comes at the end). I should not be surprised, though, since from the time of the master builder "hundreds of years ago" (p.xi) we have known idiomatically that "for want of a nail the war was lost." Certainly this profession of architecture knows more than most how much the smallest details matter.
One client reference makes my short list of attention-getting passages that compelled me ever deeper through these pages for nuggets of insight:
- "The making of architecture is an act of organized chaos. This will not be a happy revelation to the buying public. If the real nature of the process were ever conveyed to the client, the architect's reward for honesty would be a lack of work. Instead, the architect places before the client a diagram of organizational structure that is a powerful marketing device to suggest that everything is under control." (chapter 3, p.53)
- "Needed here to sustain the dream of an accessible architecture is ... a new vision of process, not product. ... One lesson that engineers understand and teach, but architects neglect, is that process sets the stage for outcome." (chapter 5, p.107)
My major criticism is that the authors do not explain the information technology development that is going to make their vision possible beyond finding that (1) "The information management tools we need in order to manage our chaos have already been developed in other industries," (chapter 3, p.59) and (2) "intranets and extranets ..." can manage the process (chapter 5, p.117).
Perhaps I don't fully appreciate how cleanly the auto and airline industries' processes would transfer to the building industry. Maybe my view from being part of the software industry as it evolved over the last forty years makes me believe unreliability is all that can be relied upon. Software has consistently and repetitively shown itself problematic, and one wonders if airlines and autos have truly overcome the historical limitations of coding imperfection.
Leaving no doubt that I/T underpins their vision, chapter 3 declares, "... a fully integrated web of information tools to conceive a building and manage its design is the regulating and enabling structure, the new Modulor of this new way of making." (p.51)
The authors' vision does sound like information systems, with subroutines and interfaces:
"... large-scale problems can be most effectively solved by being taken apart aņd solved as smaller problems, each of which demands distinct responsibilities and authorities. The results are then patched together, and considerable attention is given to the seams conjoining the several solutions." (chapter 3, p.55)
Yet I believe that advances in I/T have effectively discarded simple subroutines, interfaces, and their successor, object oriented design. Distributed network computing has emerged as the leap ahead for I/T, whether that be simply the "cloud" or the intricate complexity of artificial intelligence (AI).
I like the journey these authors allowed me to explore with them. I appreciate the look beyond their own space to find a different model. I enjoyed many fascinating insights. I just found them lacking a convincing explanation of the I/T architecture on which they categorically pin their hopes for intensely changing all manner of work that "does not thrive on rapid change." (p.105)
The book is over a decade old, but the concepts remain true and insightful. Enjoy it.