Ebook: Methodology for Product Development in Architecture
Methodology for Product Development in Architecture is dedicated to the methodology and processes of designing, developments and research of standard building products, building product systems and special building components, as well as to their applications in buildings. Therefore, this publication is of importance to product designers and product developers, who are mainly concerned with developing products and components at the side of producers, as well as to materializing architects and component designers. They are concerned with the materializing of the functional and spatial building concept as a whole and in parts. This book is first and foremost meant for professionals and students in the professional field of building technology, but will hopefully also appeal to professionals and students of architecture and building management. Professionals and students of related design sciences are invited to benefit from the contents of this work. The theory within this consideration is heavily influenced by the author’s own experiences with building component systems and special components: space frames, glass, cardboard structures and composite structures for free form architecture.
One of the objectives of publications concerning the scientific field of ‘Product Development’ in architecture, is to “make the invisible visible” in the immaterial field, as I have voiced in my oration “Architecture between tradition and experiment, or Zappi and the challenging product mystery” . The literal meaning of this is to make the invisible preparation process, which precedes the production of new building products and components, visible and understandable by a textual and visual description. But figuratively it also means to partly unravel the mysterious, the unknown and the unsaid and pass it on to architects, building technologists and students as a new knowledge and insight. The mysterious brings along some uncertainty about objectives. Mysteries are challenging, they are a motivation to go and do research and therefore, as far as I am concerned, they never need to be solved completely. When one mystery is solved, new mysteries will have to appear, new challenges, ever further on the way to the future. Yet, in the meantime knowledge grows, the skill, the insight and hopefully also the vision on the specialism of product development in architecture. Dutch architecture is internationally appreciated for its powerful value-for-money quality and its surprises within the set limitations of the challenges. Dutch architects often have to dance on the rope. Solid design approximations have contributed to this Dutch quality of architecture.
This monograph Methodology for Product Development in Architecture is dedicated to the methodology and processes of designing, developments and research of standard building products, building product systems and special building components, as well as to their applications in buildings. Therefore, it is of importance to product designers and product developers, who are mainly concerned with developing products and components at the side of producers, as well as to materializing architects and component designers. They, at the architect's office, are concerned with the materializing of the functional and spatial building concept as a whole and in parts. The monograph is first and foremost meant for professionals and students in the professional field of Building Technology, but will hopefully also appeal to professionals and students of Architecture and Building Management. Professionals and students of related design sciences are invited to benefit from the contents of this monograph.
Next to all this there is a lot of talk on designing in the architectural world, but there seems to be little openness and uniformity when it comes to the process of designing and what design methods are being used. This situation is completely different from the far more methodical design approach of one generation ago in the 1970s, when it was realised that, to work with the then recently introduced computer, for instance to analyse the floor-plans of a complex hospital, a systematic approach was an absolute necessity. The intuitive, but also the customary routinely approach did not offer a firm enough grip on the complex functional analysis to obtain an optimum design. At the time, computer programmes were as always systematically designed and could not cope with intuitive leaps. Therefore, working systematically and methodically was a logical necessity. One generation on, the computer has become an accustomed medium in every design office and even conceptual design possibilities are being carefully explored. But the systematics and methodology of design have to go through a renaissance before the full fruits of the computer in the conceptual designing process can be gathered. In my observation design methodologies in architectonical designing are only reluctantly used and there is hardly any systematical and methodical account for the originating process of the design. Indeed, the bridge between the non-cognitive intuitive design process and the ultra-systematic computer as a potential design medium, is missing. So then the computer cannot be used other than a current medium for the final development of the design. It facilitates the drawing, but not the thinking. And, therefore, it cannot be inserted as a full valued reciprocal design medium which is stimulating from self-esteem. To make considerations explicit, as is done with methodical designing, does not just advance insight and clarity in one's own activities. In practice it stimulates the communication between the ever growing group of professionals which has to co-operate in a building team, aimed at realizing a specific building (complex).
Methodologists speak of a first phase of conceptual design because of the 3-D concept with its degree of abstraction, leaving many liberties to choose materials and sub-systems the architect has at his disposal. Compared to designers in related technical specialisms (like ship- and aeroplane designers) the architect has an enormous freedom, through the given freedom of choosing structural systems, constructions, building components with their specific shapes and production techniques, the topological placing of components and geometrical freedom, and with all that to attain a purposeful sculptural quality of the building. Seldom we realize how jealous other designers could be of him in this respect. In order to make a whole new design concept of his building, the architect has (almost too) many possibilities at his disposal. The second phase of the process is the materialization design: choice of materials, structural schemes and structural composition up to details. The second phase is as important as the first conceptual phase. As compared with this luxurious situation, the aircraft designer knows only one or a few degrees of liberty of designing every part of the aeroplane because of the highly functional and safety demands. We call this parameter designing: the degree of freedom is only one variation on one single parameter.
The leap from the conceptual design to the materialized design mainly takes place in the mind of the designer: sometimes it will be intuitive, often routinely and sometimes methodical. The execution of an intuitive and non-argumented choice and its perfection can, nevertheless, very well be done methodically. This goes for the three design levels in building: those of the town-planner, the architect and the component designer. The building level of the technical design in particular is the topic of this monograph: the designing of the separate building parts and their building components and elements, ranging from special to standard.
After the functional and spatial building concept, a purposeful and efficient design process and the development of materialized and technical building components has become of fundamental importance for the design process of the building. Like the product designer, who usually operates at the side of the producer, a good project architect also knows how far he can go as a consumer of building products in the market and how far he can develop new one-off components to be specially ordered. He should have insight in the iterative development processes for building products, systems and components. The interchangeable relation between technical components and architecture is indispensable for the materialization of the architectonic conceptual design in an inspiring manner.
This book has been written from the practice of designing and developing architectural components and, within the design and build practice of the author, to take full responsibility for the result. The theory within this consideration is heavily influenced by my experiences with building component systems and special components: space frames, glass, cardboard structures and composite structures for free form architecture.
My acknowledgements go to Ronald Visser and Manuela Schilberg who patiently assisted in the layout and figures, but also to my friend professor Alan Brookes, who advised me after study and thorough reading to shorten the text and make the entire consideration much more versatile.
Prof.dr. Mick Eekhout