TWO METHODS OF BUILDING CONSTRUCTION

"The industrialization of building has had the negative effect of transforming buildings, which ought to be objects of long-term use, into short-term consumer goods, aggravating the wastage of construction materials beyond what is ecologically tolerable and transforming cities into permanent building sites. Secondly, the enforced promotion of industrialization has marginalized traditional crafts not out of practical necessity but largely out of ideological motives.

"The large-scale industrialization of building has failed on numerous counts. It has not brought about any significant technical improvements. It has not reduced building times and costs but has reduced the life span of buildings significantly. It has not increased construction capacities. It has not improved working conditions on building sites nor created more jobs. The industrialization of buildings has, on the contrary, destroyed the majority of the thirty-nine construction crafts and their immense repertory of technical know-how. It also as been unable to develop acceptable solutions for the typological, morphological, social, and economical complexity of mature urban centers and landscapes. Ironically, whatever their style and whether they are traditional or modernist, buildings of quality are, even today, the products of artisan rather than industrial processes. But craftsmanship and its characteristic manual dexterity have been devastated by industrial relations and the division of labor." 

- Leon Krier, The Architecture of Community

 

THE BUILDING INDUSTRY

 

THE BUILDING ARTS

"As [Quinlan] Terry has frequently pointed out, modernist buildings use materials that no one fully understands, which have a coefficient of expansion so large that all joints loosen within a few years, and which involve huge environmental damage in their production and in their inevitable disposal as waste within a few decades. Modernist buildings are ecological as well as aesthetic catastrophes: sealed environments dependent on a constant input of energy and subject to the ‘sick-building syndrome’ that arises when nobody can open a window or let in a breath of fresh air."                      

 - R. Scruton, Hail Quinlan Terry

 

BUILDING PRINCIPLES

MATERIAL SELECTION

The coefficient of expansion, shown on this graph, defines how much a material expands as its temperature changes. Natural materials move not very much, highly refined materials move a great deal, making waterproofing an impossible task. Natural materials have the added value of having a low embodied energy, while highly-refined materials such as those towards the bottom of this list, are achieved only through industrial processing. 

CONSTRUCTION METHOD

Le Corbusier introduced the mass-produced building with his "Mason Domino" seen above. 100 years of experimenting with this building type has shown us that traditional building construction is more durable, more "green," provides better jobs and promotes both local economies and cultures.

Le Corbusier introduced the mass-produced building with his "Mason Domino," seen above. Over a century of experimenting with this building type has shown that traditional building construction is more durable, easier to maintain, take less energy to run, provides better jobs, and promotes both local economies and cultures.

BUILDING PERFORMANCE

Just like the cobblers, upholsterers, cyclists, techies, and others who are adopting this "Fixer's Manifesto,"  traditional craftsmen have long known the value of repair over replacement. The life of a traditionally built building is one of ongoing care, and that's a good thing! As Steve Mouzon of The Original Green says: "'Maintenance Free' actually means 'Maintenance Proof'"

 

BUILDING PRINCIPLE #1

 

MATERIAL SELECTION

Addressing: Coefficients of Expansion, Embodied Energies, and Local Economies.

MODERNIST BUILDING INDUSTRY

TRADITIONAL BUILDING ARTS

Building Arts_02.042.png

 

BUILDING PRINCIPLE #2

 

Construction Method

Addressing: Industry vs. Craft, Factory vs. Site-built, as well as Humane and Artistic Production. 

MODERNIST BUILDING INDUSTRY

TRADITIONAL BUILDING ARTS

Building Arts_04.047.png

 

BUILDING PRINCIPLE #3

 

Building Performance

Addressing: Maintainability, Repairability, and Durability.

MODERNIST BUILDING INDUSTRY

TRADITIONAL BUILDING ARTS

Building Arts_01.046.png

 

Building Arts Inspiration

(Click each icon to explore)


 

For more information please see the Building Arts section of our Recommended Readings page.