Akademisk Fagprosa - Rum


Akademisk Fagprosa - Rum

When Architects write, draw, build? a PhD‐ Symposium, Nordic Association of Architectural Research, 2011

Generic model

The visualisation of the system structure of the primary case study represents a first hypothesis

about how to visualise the use of systems in architectural design – a hypothesis whose general

applicability needs to be tested (figure 3). From this initial visualisation the more general hypothesis

of a generic model is inferred – a qualified guess of a model that ideally should be able to reflect the

system structure of any building and differences between buildings.

Now, deduction meant as theoretical application of the model to thought instances of different

system structures is used to produce a number of theoretical scenarios: traditional onsite

construction, contemporary onsite construction, conventional prefabrication and future

industrialised architecture (figure 4). The different theoretical scenarios display considerable

variation in system structure and suggest possible explanative power of the model. 11 The theoretical

scenarios can be characterised as a kind of ideal types. 12

Figure 4: Theoretical system structure scenarios

Subsequently inductive inference is used: The generic model is empirically tested on a number of

secondary cases as analyses of the system structure of recently finished building projects with

supposed similarity with the theoretical scenarios. Due to the qualitative character of these analyses

and the limited number of secondary cases, representativity is not a primary concern. The focus is

rather on an explorative exposure of the model (as hypothesis) to qualitatively different

situations in order to see whether it sustains explanative power. 13 Important to state is that the

data findings in the secondary case studies their analyses are in active dialogue with and possibly

modify the model itself. By this step we return to an abductive reiteration of the model as

successive approximation towards a satisfactory explanation. The ‘ideal’ sequence of abduction,

deduction and induction, as described by Kirkeby, is completed and closes in an iterative loop that

gradually increases the quality and applicability of an analytical (intermediary) model. Both the

model itself and the outcome of its application on specific cases produce, it is claimed, qualitatively

new knowledge in the form of a tool or a language to describe and handle aspects of structural

complexity of buildings through the concepts of (sub)systems and system structure. 14

11 The theoretical scenariois can only suggest not prove explanative power of the model. As a start in the model

development the important thing is that applied to different instances the model seem to express variation.

12 In the classical definition of the sociologist Max Weber ‘The ideal type is a theoretical construction that are meant to

create the highest possible conceptual clarity from a certain point of view. It is not a specific empirical representation

of reality neither is it a normative model: but it is possible to measure a distance between the constructed ideal type and

a segment of historical reality’ Translated from (Andersen, Brande & Korsnes 1998)

13 Tentatively the secondary cases also introduce the view of different stakeholders i.e. the manufacturer, the contractor,

the integrated consultant and the architect in order to see if and how it makes sense to use the same model from

different perspectives (different foci).

14 The system structure model is still under reiterative development. Subsequent steps of this development and an

evaluation of its applicability will be reflected in the final research report due by October 2011.


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