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Methodology for

Product Development in Architecture

Mick Eekhout

2008 IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved

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Mick Eekhout
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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 [22]. 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
architects 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
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 ones 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 nonargumented choice and its perfection can, nevertheless, very well be done
methodically. This goes for the three design levels in building: those of the townplanner, 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






Product development
Building products
Production environment
Product type
The hierarchical range of industrial building products
Product frequency
New, renewed or imitation product
Newness directedness of architects
Risks of failure with product development



Design organisation
The horizontal department model
The vertical project leaders model
Lean design & production: matrix organisation
Concurrent Engineering



About the benefits of methodical designing

Intuitive design approach
Methodical design approach
When is the methodical approach inevitable?
Logic & intuition



Designing, developing and researching

Conceptual designing
Integral designing
Integral designing & developing
Design supporting research
Design, development, research in the
laboratory of product development



Technical designer
From the design faculties
The designer in the building industry
The town-planning designer
The architect
The component designer



From master builder to conceptual designer

Qualities of the component designer



Partial design methods

Back to basics
Morphological chart
Concept matrix
Desirable, probable & possible



Design methodology
Organogram standard products
First phase: design concept
Second phase: temporary marketing
Third phase: prototype development
Fourth phase: definite marketing
Fifth phase: product manufacturing



Case system products: Quattro SR

First phase: Product concept
Second phase: Preliminary marketing analysis
Third phase: Technical development



Case Special Products: Train Taxi Shelter Pillar

Competition concept
Concept phase
Prototype development
Production phase



Towards a new balance between architecture and

building technology
Inspired by history
From todays architecture
Through building technology and product development
Via idea and methodology
To the future architecture







I have often been told that although being an architect I design as an engineer,
analysing and reasoning: cognitively. Yet, very often my reactions are emotional
as an artistic designer in the process of designing, to use the other extreme:
intuitive. Purposefully I use a methodical manner of approach to restrain my
intuition. The design skills of the architect are somewhere between the extremes
of the technical scientist and that of the emotionally designing artist. The
rational scientist and the sensitive artist, or technique and art, determine both
ends of the ruler on which the architect looks for his place. The one architect a
little more towards technique, the other a little more towards art. For that matter,
the two extremes do not exist without each others influence. A sculpture will not
remain standing without knowledge of materials and construction techniques,
even when this is obvious, traditional and customary. In the scientific world
designers are being involved in the development of spacecrafts to give, among
other things, the collective techniques and systems a recognizable touch of
styling design, although squeezed in between functional requirements. The
design influence can be little in a process like this, but it is unmistakably there. In
styling of automobiles the degree of freedom is much higher. Designing
buildings knows a high degree of freedom.

Fig. 1: The different positions of the architect and engineer.

Architecture education is wide. It offers many possibilities for alumni: from

architecture to town planning, from technology to organisation and management.
The positions of the project architect, the product developer and the component
designer, which are important for this essay, are different on the ruler. The
product developer and component designer, being knowledgeable designers of

new building products and special components, will tend more to the intellectual
engineering approach, but with an architectonic level of aspiration. Whereas the
project architect is less tied to existing techniques and products. The architect is
creator in the field of Architecture and consumer in the field of Building
Technology. He has the privilege of choice from many possibilities, likewise from
eventual possibilities which are hardly ever used or even have to be imported
into the branch. As a consumer he is not tied to certain manners of production or
manners of execution. He will try to actualise his own ideas about building
components. If this would prove to be too expensive or otherwise impossible, he
may search for a higher degree of self and recognition by a deviant arrangement
in space of standard products and system components (topology). He becomes
a composer in space. He has more affinity with the aesthetic composition
approach. Standard products can also be used improperly. The conceitedness
of the project architect may lead to a self-willed building, yet it may be realized
on a small budget and relatively economical means. The project architect
designs an entire building as being a special artefact, composed from subsystems, special components, standard elements and local building-site material
processing. The course from a building via building parts to components,
elements and materials, makes it logical to score on a gliding scale, going from
special, via system to standard.
The power of the conscious combination of the approaches of the
engineer and the artistic designer, lies in reliable and unpredictable, together
with a combination of analysis and synthesis. The typical TU Delft building
engineer has an engineering mantle with an artistic core. The approach of the
engineer in relation to the topic of this monograph, the methodology and the
process organisation of product and component design and development, will
pretty often result in a straight-forward technical and functional account. The
artistic design approach on the other hand results in an exclusive creative and
aesthetical account. The building engineer knows both worlds.
Many design processes are to be described. Personally, I am very
satisfied with the integration of the approach of the periodical description of
reasoning and results, because it is a solid reflection of the designing process.
The ease with which accurately kept design processes give insight to outsiders
is, at the same time, a good lead up to convincing the principal. I also like to be
able to check my own reasoning and especially in cases of feedback and
evaluations afterwards, I like to weigh again the impact and validity of my own
arguments. Working systematically and writing it down, often leads to a bettercontrolled design process with better results.
Especially when more processes have to be kept going in one mind
simultaneously, a chronological report and account is an excellent means of
acquiring or re-acquiring insight in the process. As chief designer I am too often
involved in tens of projects at the same time at my office, they all require an
adequate arrangement: decathlon chess is quite a knack. The illustrations with
this introduction give an idea of the scale of the various designs which are daily
being worked at in my office. Simultaneous designing is a notion many
professional architects will recognize.


Fig. 2: Court of Justice, Maastricht, NL. Architect: Gerard Passchier.

Fig. 3: The 52m high glass faade of the atrium of the OZ Building, Tel Aviv, Israel. Architect: Avram


Fig. 4: Extension to the Prinsenhof museum, Delft, NL. Architect: Mick Eekhout.

The fear of many designers that their creativity will run dry with a methodical or
systematic design approach, is unfounded. It is a matter of discipline to follow
the whole process on the one hand and to take enough distance to be able to
undisturbed experience the creative moments in greater ecstasy. Designers who
know that they are good in designing will keep their designing ideas to
themselves until it becomes totally clear from analyses for what purpose these
ideas are necessary. It would be a waste to spill energy to just the wrong, or a
wrongly interpreted design, however splendid and exciting these wrong results
as such, may be. I, indeed, experience it like many colleague designers: very
soon after a commission I have an intuitive image in my mind of the possible
solution. I have to consciously suppress this, however, in order to find out, by
analytical and methodical work, if this image is the best one. Nevertheless, the
idea or the image stays wandering in my mind all that time as being a certainty.
Each designer will develop his own method of designing. But for a methodical
approach goes: never be afraid of the brilliant idea or image not showing up!
Methodical designing can lead to a design which is better than the first intuitive


Many building designers, especially architects, could and would rightly fear that
an accurately kept design and development process is in flat contradiction with
the mysterious business they call their design process, which mostly leaves the
presented curious mixture of analytical and creative fragments hidden in a black
box, as it were. That black box is often a convenient cover to mask a hasty,
incomplete design process. Designers often hastily come to their final objective
and develop their designs dead straight from a main idea to a complete solution.
It is like firing a shot at random; the effect of which will be covered with a
mystified woolliness of language when there is some opposition, serving only
one purpose: to distract attention and leave the audience behind being
exhausted in helplessness and self-doubt. The honour of the concerned
designer may be saved for that moment, but it is to be questioned whether in
general the best design is being represented. There are many deceptive moves
being performed which sometimes serve to hide ignorance, sometimes a lack of
knowledge, often a lack of insight and vision and sometimes imperfect
performances. Simplicity is often a powerful argument, provided that this is
correctly directed, but simplicity may also be the result of a complicated process
as opposed to the artless simplicity of the first shot. Mystification is probably not
always to be avoided but in general it does not help along the appreciation for
the design. It proves to exercise, eventually, a bewildering influence in the
founding of the designers ego.

Fig. 5: Glass canopy for the Evoluon, Eindhoven, NL. Architect: Gert Grosfeld.


Fig. 6: Chrysler Building, Brussels, Belgium. Architect: De Wachtelaere.

Fig. 7: Shopping Center Overvecht, Utrecht, NL. Architect: ONB Architects.


There is a chance that he will start to believe in their own mystifications. With
that the circle of reasoning is full, but the quality of the design will not improve by
it and again a chance to improve the quality of the overall spatial design is lost.
In the design process the linear line may often be the shortest, but not
necessarily the most optimum or the best way to go from A to B. On the way
many alternatives deserve attention and ever so often the optimum design is a
combination of a main idea with all sorts of side-leaps, logical and (at first sight)
less logical, even unexpected impulses. In short, designing is to building
designers partly an analytical, but mainly a creative activity. Whereby analysis
and creation or synthesis have to be in proportion, they have to chase each
other for the great quest to the best design. There must be no mutual frustration.
Only the best is good enough. Buildings have to stay in use far too long to
routine-rush the design phase, only to beget a low or medium quality as a result,
looking like the greatest performance when it comes to the budget. With the
presentation of designs and the design processes, certainly by students this fault
comes forward in full intensity. Insecurity, faulty reasoning, ignorance and a lack
of knowledge are often the ingredients of a show which would not necessarily be
weak if it had an analytical foundation. Especially for beginners in the trade it is
worth their while to acquire their own discipline, in order to research more
possibilities during the process and to compose the design with the best
combination of these.
The building engineer differs from the average TU Delft engineer in his
stroke of originality and creativity. The Delft building engineer works
systematically and strategically, but originally and creatively when a problem has
to be solved, after which he will look for the underlying rules that enable him to
find an even better or more optimum solution. Undeniably a systematic
approach and one which requires accurate working. His design has flashes of
the artistic designer who thinks of a number of solutions more often and faster,
in order to compare these until one solution is found which will solve most, or all
the problems or does so in the most satisfying way. The component designer
takes position compared to the building engineer and the architect. For all three
counts: designing is deciding in compromises. A juicy approach to the great
stroke and the grand dream thinking.
The usual TU Delft engineer solves his problems by analysing more, the
artistic designer by synthesizing more. The engineer analyses and decomposes. The component designer rather amalgamates, capable of both
analysing and amalgamating. The engineer uses a strategy which is problemdirected, where the component designer follows a solution-directed strategy.
Usually the search starts with unravelling a Gordian knot of demands and
wishes which are partly opposite one another and partly sometimes badly, partly
also wrongly described. Problems in a design process are usually not clearly
enough described to come to a solution solely by an analysis. That is why often
a reversed order is used: suggest a solution and then check if this meets the
required demands, or if it needs additions. Solution and problem thus run
parallel with each other in their development. This interaction can lead to
designs which are a mixture of both approaches, but can also lead, via sudden
ideas and brain flashes, to totally unexpected solutions. The power of the


building engineer (Bouwkundig Ingenieur, being the official title after graduation
from the faculty of Architecture TU Delft) lies in his interchanging analyses with
syntheses. For he is, as a designer, engineer as well as artist. He is at the
crossing of two worlds. He can impregnate a scientific approach with
spontaneous and creative solutions. He can also clarify a messy process of
associative solutions by introducing divisional analytical approaches.
In extreme it can be stated that in the whole process of product
development there must absolutely be an anarchical activity which will provide a
very refreshing, free, new and loose view on the process or on the product or
component in the making. This surely happens in a building team, by having an
artist play the part of the louse in the fur or the horse-fly, the anarchist en
persona. But few are given the chance to make this their profession. Although
this will not diminish the love-hate relation between discipline and anarchy. Both
approaches can only be managed by the best designer as a truly autonomous
The three Organograms being the complete process methods as
presented in this book, are an attempt to describe a development process of
respectively a standard product, a system product and a special component
product for the building trade. Of course, these Organograms have, as overall
methods to steer a design and development process, a personal touch: they are
Eekhout Organograms. The basis for these Organograms were already set
down at the graduation work in 1973. Therefore, the reader should not look upon
them as a case of sacred must, a too tight straitjacket. They had better be
looked upon as an example for a scheme of activities to be carried out logically
next to or after each other, leading from objective to objective fulfilment. For the
author they are a well workable average, explained by an experienced designer.
In fact all processes are elaborations and variations on the generalized
The user of this monograph, wanting to systematically develop a new or
renewed building product, building system or building component, will be
advised to note down a strategic scheme like the Organograms for his topic, in
all its distinguished activities parallel and serial with feedbacks. Students would
do good to follow such a scheme a couple of times until they have formed their
own variant of this development method. While doing so, during the process
corrections will be sensible and sound deliberation is recommended. Afterwards
a logical explanation can be given to outsiders who were not involved in the
design process from nearby, on the demand side (i.e. principals, building
managers) or the supply side (i.e. co-makers, draughtsmen, contractors, subcontractors, producers). The understanding of and the identification with the end
result of the process increases for all and the information may cause a stronger
motivation for all those involved in the development process and the production
and realization process afterwards.
The first and didactical objective of working with an average
Organogram is to hand the user of this monograph a discipline according to
which a design and development process can be organized. Because every
Organogram is the result of very complex and specific headwork of which the
ideas and feedbacks often come so fast that they are hardly describable, the


Organogram can only be an abstraction and a simplification of reality. Besides,

the three discussed main types of Organograms are framed in such a
generalized way that many products can be designed and developed, using
them. For a more lively imagination the system products and special products
Organograms are illustrated with a case from practice. The benefit of the general
validity of the average, however, is balanced by the missing power of the
specific. This has to be brought in by the specific design of the user. From this
follows that the first and foremost function of an Organogram is to give the user
insight in the development discipline, in order to shape it into his or her own
discipline with an individual tune.
The second and functional objective of working with an Organogram is
that already in an early stage of the process an overall picture is gained of the
various activities, needed to get to the final objective so that, with regards to the
dedication of persons, material and finances in the entire process can be taken
into account. Of course the process is complicated. But describing the various
stages from experiences does not make the designer frightened. After
description he can go to work on the important issues. With an Organogram
scheme the communication between the many involved parties in the product
development process can take place in the light of clearly circumscribed and
related process activities. An Organogram clarifies the process practice more for
discussions which, especially in big and complex processes or hierarchical
decision structures, can be of a great help in the transference of arguments and
the foundation of decisions.
The third and psychological objective of working with an Organogram is
that the designer sees the modesty of his part in the process as a whole and
therefore is able to appreciate his position in the entire development process. Do
not underestimate the positive results of humility. It also shows the many
necessary impulses by outsiders in the building team (that is to say outside the
person of the designer) and with that the dependencies, the necessity for cooperation, collaboration even, for communication itself and for the means of
communication. One of the problems of the earlier groups of Building
Technology students, who worked for the first time under my supervision in 1992
with the standard Organogram, was that they interpreted the organisational
scheme as a very strict order of activities. They were called steps at the time:
hence the association with a compulsive order; like obligatory figure skating. The
students had more trouble with the supposed compulsory order in the stepsscheme than with the gained overall picture of the process and the greater
freedom to analyse and synthesize alternatives during the process. Ever since
that time I rather speak of activities than of steps, because with that a less strict
order is being indicated and these activities become easier to be executed next
to, after, and with each other. On the other hand, the reactions of students of a
post-graduate Architectural Design Management Systems at TU Eindhoven)
designers course some 5 years later was much more positive and interested.
Perhaps one has to be purified as a designer in the personal failing of various
designing processes in order to recognize methodology as a means to
efficiency. Methodology, too early in time and without the artistic design core,
could reduce the lust and pleasure in the design profession. Considering the


process of learning from others and afterwards standing on ones own legs, my
thoughts go back to an event in 1992, the first year of my professorship. During
one of my journeys in the Far East, John Hui, one of my principals, with a
doctorate in Philosophy at Vancouver, worked as a glass faade contractor in
his fathers former glass faade business in Hong Kong at the time. While
discussing the merits of De-constructivism I had to give a lecture on a few days
later, he brought an appropriate thesis of Ludwig Wittgenstein to my attention.
After a dive in his bookcase he read to me thesis 6.54 from the Tractatus
Logico- Philosophicus, 1923 [23] (translation from German into English by
Bertrand Russell):
My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone
who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical,
when he has used them, as steps to climb up beyond them. (He
must so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it).
He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the
world aright
This wisdom of Wittgenstein is a very general one and goes for many learning
processes: one has to master the subject-matter first, before one can profile
oneself as a master and manipulate the subject-matter. However, one should
not be that proud to step from the ladder when being only halfway or to jump
down to look for ones own way, because one will fall down when doing so.
Study in all quietness and when you have mastered the subject-matter and it is
settled in your head, you may throw away the theory. Working with an
Organogram is very well capable of helping along the communication in and
around a product development process, but as a discipline of an individual
designer it will be made redundant when the discipline has moved from the
paper into the mind, and has formed a personal designing discipline there. When
that moment of personal and autonomous insight has come, this monograph will
be no longer needed. Rather sooner than later, as far as I am concerned. By the
way, what lies before you is a subtle process and a lengthy learning time. Take
your time for it and enjoy the sound acquiring of an overall picture of the
essence of the developing process.
It is clear that, parallel to the three Organograms, it must be possible to
draw and describe similar Organograms for the designing of buildings or, in
some cases, even for a work of art. Especially when the design process and
materialising contain sufficient complexity, it has a high value. But also the
development process of a car or an airplane will, in principle, offer the possibility
to be described as a methodical process of similar activities. The specific topic
can, of course, make the one Organogram far more complex, profound, or
broader and more extended than the other. Also the writing of a book or a
dissertation can be described as a process of identical activities, arranged in
similar ways. It all comes down to clear thinking. In essence it is nothing more
than a discipline made visual of serial and parallel activities to get from an initial
objective to an final fulfilment of the objective.


The scientific domain of Product Development is based on two pillars, the one
on an abstract and the other on a concrete level:
The abstract-theoretical contemplation and stimulation of the design
process, developing, examining and realising of building products and
components: the methodology of product development and component
design for architecture;
The concrete-practice directed studies of existing and new products in
particular via the relation of production techniques to elements and
components up to prototype evaluations of new products like Zappi, the
secret unbreakable structural glass material for architecture and free
form 3D components for Free Form Design or Blob buildings with
their complex geometries.

Fig.8: Relationship between building design and other engineering sciences.

This monograph is totally devoted to the first pillar of the abstract-theoretical

contemplation of the designing methodology and the process organisation of
product development, be it illustrated with examples from practice. This practical
methodology is the result of my personal research into the theoretical tasks,
illustrated with designs and developments from my design practice of Octatube


in Delft, drawn by my co-workers and myself and produced and realised all over
the world by the same team. I hope this monograph may be the basis for more
profound research by others. However, the subject-matter is important enough
to be introduced, for the time being, in this form. One of the books of which the
contents have an inspiring influence on working with process organisations for
building technology students, is the work of Roozenburg and Eekels, titled
Product Designs, Structure and Methods [1]. Although it is directed to Industrial
Design students, parts of it still show gratifying parallels with the development of
building products. This book also gives, thanks to the years of experience on
which it is founded, a very wide image of industrial design development.
Therefore the book is highly recommended to professionals and students who
are interested in a more methodological approach. Although it is clear that
building products, by the static and grand nature of buildings and the
peculiarities of the technical design and development process, are worth to be
studied as separate scientific domains. Compare this with the process of
moveable industrial products. The analytical design methods of Norbert
Roozenburg cum suis, next to those of others, have confirmed me in the
conviction that the building technology student and the architecture student,
through all sorts of design methods, is capable of mastering a totally individual
design discipline.




The scientific field of Product Development comprises the entire process of the
initiating, the developing, designing, research and engineering, manufacturing
the prototype and testing its performance, making it ready for production and
production in first series, the assembling of the material kernel of completely or
partly new and renewed standard building products, building systems and
special components, which can be manufactured and prefabricated industrially,
and the immaterial layer of the surrounding scientific fields of Methodology,
Computer Science, Product Economy, Industrial Economy, Marketing,
Regulating and Quality Ensurance.


In building jargon there are several interpretations of the phrase building

products, just like there are for products. The number of interpretations is
confusing. One cannot found a field of science upon a lack of unanimity. We will
start afresh with a clean vocabulary and try to give better suiting descriptions for
notions which are not only logical in theory, but also workable in practice and
which will hopefully be handled in the practice of design, production and
The meaning of the word product is derived from to bring forth (Lat.
pro = forth, ducere= to lead, to bring). From that it is relevant to material as
well as immaterial matters. Every action or process produces a result which is
called a product. In general, products stand for results of breeds of spiritual or
physical work as well as, in continuation of this, mechanical or automatized
work. The contents of a book is the product of the author and the material book
itself is the product of the printer. A building design is the product of an architect
and his advisers. A building as the technical artefact is the product of the team of
building contractors and producers of components, steered by the design of the
architect. Since the domain of Product Development is concerned with material
products, we will leave the spiritual products for what they are. The architect
looks upon his building as a proof of his design thinking. The project developer
looks upon the same building as his negotiable product in the market of real
estate. The domain of Product Development is, however, not concerned with the
designing of the whole building. Product Development concerns the designing,
developing and examining of separate components of the building, be it
standard components, system components or special components. The building
as a complete product or technical artefact is built up from a great number of
components, each being produced by specialized producers in their workshops
and factories and installed at the building-site by specific assemblers. The coordination and integration of all components, elements and materials in the
technical composition of the building is the domain of Architectural Engineering.
To increase the confusion surrounding the notion building products, there
is hardly any distinction between the finished levels of the components. In the
average contemporary building process many different building products are


used with totally different levels of completeness. The one extreme is shapeless,
fluid concrete without reinforcement which yet has to be poured. Fluid concrete
is only material in pre-cast status. Bricks are elements yet to be laid by hand.
Bricks are industrial products, but the bricklaying is handicraft. The other
extreme are prefabricated multi-material components that only need bolting and
sealing off at the building site: Completely pre-assembled glass faade modules,
one story high. The different materials in linear or flat form are integrated into
this super-component. All kind products between these extreme levels of
completeness between material and super-component can be found at one
building site.

Fig. 9: Exterior of the Glass Music Hall, Exchange of Berlage, Amsterdam. Architect: Pieter Zaanen.

What would happen if we would want to develop carbon fiber reinforced epoxy
shells for roofs of Free Form Design buildings? Would we start with the snotty
material epoxy to be fabricated on timber molds on situ, or would we reason
from making large super-components of these types of roofs, the maximum size
hardly transportable over the road, so that the components can be prefabricated
and properly cured? So these considerations influence new components design
and development. Insight is obtained from the differences in the levels of
assembly, completeness, quality, production frequencies, producer- and
consumer directedness etc.


Concerning the sizes the following observations can be made:

Mini-products are the smallest monomaterial components. For instance, bolts
and nuts are the products of a bolts
producer. Bolts are elements. A nongalvanized steel bolt is a subelement; a
hot dip galvanized one is an element,
ready to play its part in the assembly. A
bolt, a nut and two washers, together
with the two boltholes to be connected,
form a functional entity: a super-element.
Mini-products are produced outside the
building industry or for more than only
the building industry alone. They are
Meso-products are building components.
These components of buildings
usually produced outside the buildingsite and are transported, in a certain
state of completion, to the building-site in
order to become assembled, mounted or
Maxi-products in architecture are buildings
as complete products. Buildings as
technical artefacts have a high degree of
complexity. Every building consists of
thousands of components, among which
many different types of building products.
One can also speak of buildings as real
estate products, as main contractors and
project developers usually do, indicating
the building as merchandize. The
architect sees the building as the
materialized spatiality around the desired
functionalities within his artistic view.

Fig. 10: Overview of maxi-, mini- &

meso-products illustrated on the glass
music hall.

It is a matter of defining the specialism of the domain of Product Development to

determine if it is solely concerned with off-site products, or if on-site products
can also be included in the specialism. In principle, the domain is capable of
dealing with all building products, off-site as well as on-site up to the level of the
building as the total technical conglomerate. Established materials and
techniques are not part of the domain of Product Development, unless they
need dramatic upgrading and innovating.


Fig. 11: Space frame for storage hangar,


Fig. 12: Building products in various stages of

completeness: steel space frame for Tanfield
House, Edinburgh.

The product stage during the transportation to the building-site is determining for
the level of completeness of the product. Examples of building products in
various stages of completeness by, for instance, their different sizes are:
A steel space frame. It is supplied on site in the form of prefabricated tubes
and connectors (components) and bolts and nuts (elements). Because of the
great volume of an assembled space frame the components are compactly
stacked in breakdown position and transported in containers. The space
frame has to be assembled safely on the ground floor, or any flat surface, into
one integral spatial construction and will thereupon be hoisted and fitted on its
anchors. At the building-site assembling is only done by bolting and tightening
connections. Welding is absolutely not done on the site, as it is an assembly
method preferably used in factories, before corrosion protection and coating
is applied.
A complete glass and metal faade
module. This super-component needs
only to be assembled on the buildings
skeleton by bolting and get a waterproof
sealing around. Completely glazed
faade super-component modules are
fixed in ever larger sizes. In former days
aluminium faades were often supplied
at the building-site with separate
mullions, transoms and glass panels and
screwed together on the building
envelope from suspended scaffoldings.
Nowadays the levels of manufacturing,
Fig. 13: Building products in various
pre-assembly and assembly are higher
stages of completeness: glass and
and this degree of prefabrication leads to
metal window frame. Authors house.
more complex super- components.
A central heating boiler. Needs only to be installed, hung and connected to
the conduit pipes and electrical plugs. This device is completely assembled as
standard product, tested in the factory and even provided with a factory


Fig. 14: Building products in various

stages of completeness: central
heating boiler.

Let us take the opposite position. From the traditional building practice one could
state that bricks and concrete blocks are clearly recognizable building products.
But they still have to undergo the essential process of assembly by bricklaying
before we can speak of the building component of the brick wall. Bricks, to
product developers, are in fact micro-products. In accordance with the increasing
industrialisation we will be increasingly inclined to look upon elements like bricks,
concrete blocks, gypsum blocks and glass building blocks as being unfinished
products, only elements or micro-products, and the actual meso-product would
be the brick wall. The bricklayer as a sub contractor is more and more paid for
the ready to hand product of the complete finished vertical wall. He is less paid
as the added labourer who erects walls from bricks and mortar between the
frames of a carpenter, after which they are finished by a jointer or a plasterer.
So, to think in a component manner, becomes also a part of the traditional
building practice. The status of handicraft is most important for the renovation
and restoration sector.
One may also look upon ceramic roof tiles of the traditional building process as
industrialized building products. They are being transported to the site in their
recognizable shape and only have to be laid, respectively screwed tight at the
roof surface on the building-site. There are more and more roof tiles suppliers
who, instead of supplying roof tiles, rather initiated to supply complete roofs for
house building. Therefore, all the more reason to also look upon the brick wall as
a complete product, parallel to the tiles roof. This, by the way, does not mean
that there would be nothing to develop in micro products! Product Development
could contribute in proposing revolutionary new concepts as well as in
incremental improvement of current products.


Fig. 15: Black ceramic tiles of the Zwarte

Madonna (Black Madonna) in the Hague, NL.
Architect: Carel Weeber.


Fig. 16: Ceramic Tiles, Cultural Center, Delft,

NL. Architect: Vera Yanovshtchinsky.


Innovation boosted by industrialisation. In our society new ideas are constantly

born and worked out. They are being introduced to replace existing matters.
Even the building practice, which as an industry can be set in motion only with
great difficulty, cannot escape from innovations. Surely not since the Dutch
government made innovation a political priority. All sorts of tendencies become
visible as the causes of those innovations. There are many aspects (social,
political, financial, architectonical) we will not get into (although they are
indirectly influential). One of the tendencies which is of our major interest, is the
increasing degree of industrialisation in the building trade of which the following
number of five cause and effect relations are known:
Much of the work at the open building-site is being removed to
conditioned workplaces and factories where, with the help of machines
and efficiency-advanced installations, producing can be done faster and
more effective.
The quality of products can be checked, guaranteed and enhanced,
which will be for the better of the total quality of buildings.
The price of the building products will drop by larger serial or mass
manufacturing in stead of manual manufacturing, pieces-wise or in
smaller series
An optimal use can be made of materials and commercial materials in
order to minimize the waste during the industrial production. During the
assembly and erection at the building-site only connecting elements
and packings to protect components during transport are taken into


The burden of building for the environment may in the future be

lessened further when new building products are dismountable and
capable of being re-used, if the designer is willing to take this into
account. This leads preferably to complete, yet transportable supercomponents.
The running down order of the hierarchical series means that, thinking about
demounting buildings in components, elements and materials every step down
involves a greater destruction of capital. In order to re-use components to the
full, a second-hand market, as a virtual exchange has to be opened on the
Internet. The actual materials can be stored all over the country, awaiting future

Fig. 17: Process identification of successful possibilities for temporary sustainable housing.
Scheme by graduation work Nicole Peters, TU Delft.


Instead of the confusion of descriptions used in practice, it would be good to

promote a coherent linguistic usage concerning Product Development and the
achieved degree of industrialisation of the building practice and to form a set of
uniform descriptions or definitions. This can be used domestically in
architectonical trainings without a confusion of tongues and could effect further
the communication of the building practice home and abroad after adoption.
These descriptions do not care much about current terminology. And we are not
just concerned with theoretical descriptions, but also about the practical handling
of conceptions, at least in the decade to come. These conceptions are given in
four categories, or a cluster of characteristic notions, to be dealt with hereafter:
Production environment
(building-site, pre-fabrication,
Product type
(standard-, system- and special product)
Product complexity
(from material, element, component to building
Production frequency
(from unique specimen to large quantity)
Fig. 18: Characteristic notions
concerning product development.



In the current trent towards customized industrialization we will shortly reflect on

the triple origins of the current building industry:
traditional building,
prefabrication and industrialisation. Central is the contemporary use of
industrialization and prefabrication and how to deal with the greater influence of
the consumer on the production of building products by means of flexible
industrial prefabrication or customized industrialization. The developments
towards industrialisation are rapid, but the diversities of demands increase as
well, also because project architects design new components in their buildings
all the time and want to have them developed in-house or in the engineering
departments of co-makers.
Building-site Production: 1
Traditional building is understood by a building process whereby production and
execution take place, for the greatest part, at the building-site with mainly means
of the handicrafts. In the renovation and restoration sector the modus operandus
of handicraft techniques is the only one available, be it that more components are
prefabricated and installed, but usually finished in the building by manual
techniques as bricklaying and plastering.
The approach and the entire administration of main contractors, even in
large new projects, is still established on the basis of on-site production with
ample means of visual inspection of the installed products and payment
thereafter. The phenomenon of prefabrication throws this concept upside down.


Fig. 19: Crystal Palace, London, Architect: Joseph Paxton, 1851.

It is important to distinguish the industrialization

level of the building process at hand versus the
level of industrialization of the building products
(i.e. standard, system or special products)
involved. The entire process is developing over
the decades from a typical on-site process via the
current half on-site/half off-site process to in
future a process of site assembly of completely
prefabricated, industrialized and mass-customized
In the mean time building components
were always designed and developed as highly
industrialized components with all advantages
from it. However, the growing tendency for
individualization in designs and of realized
buildings, reveals an opposite tendency: industrial
production is reduced to machined handicraft in
case the components have to be produced in lots
of one due to a Free Form geometry requirement
for the total roof of a building, with similar
consequences for the individual composing
Rational efficiency in traditional building
processes is still an issue of efficiency in current
processes, that found its summit in the post-war
rebuilding of Rotterdam after its 1940 bombings.

Fig. 20: From traditional

construction to flexible industrial


Fig. 21: Building-site of the faculty of Technology, Policy & Management of the TU Delft.


Pre-fabrication: 2
Pre-fabrication is understood to be the manufacturing, of building components,
building parts or even complete buildings consisting of various building
components, specially engineered to fit the building. . Production takes place
after a contract off-site. The results are being transported to the building-site to
be assembled into a building. Sometimes the working method is still rather
traditional (here meaning a high-level craft, though low-level technology) but
executed in a factory. But it may be further directed to industrial manufacturing.
The total financial efficiency is generally of a decisive significance.
The phrase pre-fabrication, is quite current in Dutch linguistic usage, it is
a typically building industry phrase, only to be explained from a strong open
building-site tradition and derived from the opinion of contractors on the open
building-site. To any producer it is a absurd phrase. For to them there are no
pre-fabricators. From the viewpoint of producers the activities at the buildingsite, on the contrary, can be looked upon as post-manufacturing or postfabrication. So the gap in opinion between building site contractors and off-site
manufacturers appears, is at the same time a gap in development between site
contracting and industry.
There is a subtle difference between fabricators, manufacturers and
producers. Manufacturing means producing or making products. But fabrication
also bears the somewhat denigrating association with handiwork, with having
trouble to put things together. Producing means both manufacturing and
fabrication, but without any negative associations.
In practice producing/product is used for anybody who creates something
and especially for producing in large quantities. Manufacturing is normally
reserved for producers who produce larger or more complex components from
small elements by assembling them. All these activities belong to the building
industry. Mainly in consideration of efficiency, quality of the product and quality of
labouring, the activities at the building-site are increasingly transferred to
factories and workplaces. There the buildings elements and components in
question are produced with the help of machines and automatons. They could be
singles and multiples in small, medium, large series or in large quantities with a
high quality level and under good climatological conditions. The produced
elements are assembled into sub-components and components.
Afterwards these are transported to the building-site. Possibly they are
assembled either at a factory on site into larger components, or after that directly,
with the help of a crane, mounted on the already present load-bearing main
structure till a complete building part is finished.
Prefabrication of these components takes place after the order is placed
for the components of a specific building part and is so only executed after the
rounding up of the building design/engineering and when all components are
further specified. It then does not matter if the design of the component in
principle was already finished and that only the dimensions must be adjusted,
respectively some variables had to be determined (system component), or that
the component in question had to be completely designed (special component).


Industrial Production: 3
Industrial production is understood by a production method for which the
following aspects are characteristic:
x presence of high-level technology;
x optimal suitability for serial production;
x optimal, on production attuned, process
x completely planned and programmed
process traject;
x good marketing orientation;
x directedness to product innovation;
x optimum input of labour, materials,
x machinery and automatons during
x optimum price/quality ratio.
The Dutch glasshouse industry is the only fully industrialized Dutch building
segment. For various building-market segments the transference of that
traditional building to a more industrial way of working has been set in motion at
a different moment and pushed further. The extreme is formed by the Dutch
glass-house building practice, which in principle came forth of the glass building
of greenhouses of the last century with, as a notorious climax, the Crystal
Palace in London (1851), stimulated by a contemporary urge for efficiency and
cost reductions. It can be said that the current Dutch greenhouse building
construction is almost completely industrialized, apart from the assembling. In
proportion the square meter price is low: a complete greenhouse, including
foundations and ventilation windows, supplied waterproof and built according to
the operative norms, costs only approximately EUR 50,=/m, based on a size of
10,000m or more.

Fig. 22: Prefabricated products are

contracted before production.


Fig. 23: Industrial products are

produced before sale.

Industrialization: 4
The topic of industrialization is taken on two levels: that of the building process
and that of the components. Industrialization of the building process is a fata
morgana as the prototype character of each building project requires a high
level of improvisations due to the usually inadequate information streams
between the ad hoc chosen building team partners. Industrialization requires
another set-up of the organization: labour division, each team member has
specific tasks and has repeatedly shown reliability in performing his task. This
will never be the case when working with ad hoc teams. The best result will be a
process without major discussions or conflicting interests.
Industrialization of components has always been developed mainly out of
economical reasons. The industrialized production of standard products takes
place before the purchase. So, before the design of the relevant building is
ready, or rather completely independent of this. Essential, therefore, is the
mechanical manufacturing in a factory and the manufacturing before the
purchasing. Industrialization of system products is understood when building
components, completely developed and all characteristics including dimensions,
are fixed and in principle manufactured mechanically or manually via an
industrial production method (that is to say, based upon mass production and
labour division) in a conditioned environment. Special components can only be
manufactured after complete design and engineering of the building and after
complete engineering (including shop drawings) of the respective components
have been executed. To the project architect assembling a building design from
industrially manufactured elements, yet to be manufactured system and special
components, means that choices have to be made from available standard
building products in industrial catalogues (a limited choice from a product
assortment) and the system components and special components have to be
engineered completely. It means that all of these building products (elements
and components) in relation to each other have to be defined in their spatial
The standard elements themselves can only be minimally changed . To
buildings this is only relevant if the standard products are produced and sold en
masse, for instance: bricks, tiles, inner doorframes, doors, door metal works,
kitchen elements, radiators and standard products of that kind. In general these
are smaller building products. A completely industrially manufactured building
will be totally built up from already produced (catalogue) products. An often cited
and well-known example of this is the home of Charles and Monica Eames in
Santa Monica, California (1949), where it did not completely work out as well, in
spite of the pretensions. In those days this design was propagated as being
component designed, assembled from catalogue products, a confusing
statement in the eyes of the author. But the spirit of industrialization still haunts
us. Although the principle of industrialization in our interpretation is industrial
producing before purchasing, it may well be that certain products will yet have to
be produced because they ran out of stock, or because a just-in-time production
is being pursued whereby the costs of investment and interest are being
minimalized. This makes no essential difference to the definition, provided that
the purchaser has no influence on the execution of the individual components,


only on the placing (topology) and the assembly of the components into one
integrated whole.
As an example one may consider the choice of kitchen cupboards doors
with a certain colour from a standard series which have to be produced after
ordering: no deviation of the drawn principle of industrialization. At best one can
say that the stock is insufficient to make direct sales from the showroom. The
Ikea approach is the literal consequence of industrialization: all products are
ready to be taken from the shelves. The only action expected of the customer is
to choose and to assemble later. At best one can say that sometimes the stock
is insufficient to make direct sales from the showroom. There is indeed a
deviation of a usual degree of industrialization if a colour which is different from
that of the catalogue would have to be applied. Then, again, we speak of
prefabrication with respect to the colour finishing on an otherwise industrially
produced cupboard door. The kitchen worktop with its specific length and
division is therefore prefabricated, while the cupboards and cupboards doors are
manufactured industrially. The choice of components and their placing in the
integrated whole of the building as a technical artefact can make the design,
whether industrial, pre-fabricated or some mixed form (as is usual nowadays),
interesting and exciting. The obstinate employing and placing of familiar building
components (topology and geometry in interaction), is often the only liberty a
project architect has nowadays, due to budget considerations.

Fig. 24: Assembly line of Ferrari.

Fig. 25: Eames House, 1945-1949, Pacific

Palisades, U.S.A. Architects: Charles & Ray

Flexible Industrial Prefabrication: 5

The results of the turning over in the early Eighties from producer directed
industrialization to consumer directed manufacturing of flexible industrial
prefabrication or mass-customization are becoming increasingly recognizable.
The control of architects over the technical assembly of building elements and
components of the building is increasing. Around 1980 there was an industrial
depression in the building practice in the Netherlands with a logical transfer from
demand to supply, by a surplus of capacity with producers (and contractors)
versus sub-spendings via the line of the professional consumers: the project


architects. Around 1990 there was a second industrial depression with a

strengthening effect in that respect. Ever since, especially the obvious image
determining building components in a building have been determined
increasingly by the project architect and decreasingly by the realizing parties,
main contractor, sub-contractors and producers. Under the influence of Deconstructivism, particularly by its purposeful-nonchalant virtual explosions of
non-orthogonal components, many architectonical designs have become more
geometrically complex. In the last decade this customisation of components was
further accelerated by the ascent of Free Form Design Architecture, with its
constituent highly individualized but necessarily industrialized components.

Fig. 26: Glass music dome in Haarlem, NL. Architect: Wiek Rling; Structural design: Mick Eekhout.

As far as assembling goes they are collages of building elements and

components to be executed in a typical building and very specific manner, based
upon all possible manners of production and the most obstinate interventions in
and combinations of these. In order to make the in the aforementioned
industrialization indicated transfer between prefabrication and industrialization
more workable, as far as the voice of todays consumer in choice of variables is


concerned, the notion flexible industrial prefabrication came into being.

Reasoning from prefabrication, flexible means that anyhow the wishes of
purchasers are being taken into account, marked by the filling in of open
parameters (and nothing more). But industrial also means that producing takes
place by set routines with respect to semi-products in an industrial (production)
manner. From the viewpoint of producers prefabrication means that, next to a
flow of completely industrially manufactured products (standard products) which
can be produced without a preceding selling-order, there will also be a second
flow of flexible products of which production will only start after the selling orders
in question are laid down with the filling in of the open parameters (system
products). This number of parameters can be many times greater than the usual
industrial producing. The restrictions are being indicated by the limitations of the
programming space of the (automatized or automatic) fleet of machines.
Reasoning from the industrialization idea, flexible production will be spoken of
when this is only started after the selling-orders in question are laid down with
the filling in of the open parameters. From the side of producers, flexible
production is a helping hand to anyway be able to attend the building practice
with high quality industrial processes, which are based upon greater numbers
and which can stand only a maximum of restraining factors (to be determined by
the consuming project architect).

Fig. 27: Drawing of the glass stairs in Jeddah, design Octatube, 1996


Fig. 28: Prefabricated glass stairs in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


It has to be noted that the building practice originally is a 100% demand product,
completely applied to the wishes of the consumer (= client/architect). On the
other hand, for an example, cars are being bought as a supply product where
the position of the producer is more determining. In the 1900s T-Fords could
only be delivered in black or green because the producer had more than enough
troubles in the fine tuning and fitting of the elements and components of the car
to worry his head about and wanted nothing else. In such a case the purchasers
have, in principle, no influence whatsoever on the basic design, except
nowadays for some laid down pre-programmed variables: these cars remain
semi-supply products.

Fig. 29: Influences on industrial production.

However, typically enough cast iron in the English high-days of the Victorian cast
iron production practice could be looked upon as a supply product. Cast iron
building products could only be cast by definition, in view of the casting process,
as ready to hand, completely produced elements in series. Since the
introduction of more flexible production methods, based upon semi-products (for
instance rolled tubes and thin plates) where more different processes are
possible, the moment of choice has been shifted further along the production
process. Because of that more production phases have been inserted. Metal
casting is used scarcely nowadays in the building practice with its low m prices,
leading to cheap linear and plane shaped elements and components. Castings
will be used as spatial connecting elements in normally small, more complex,
concentrated dimensions. The production of castings in singles, in multiples and
in small series (like in the offshore industry, the Centre Pompidou, Paris or in the
Western Morning News, Plymouth) comes forth from the possibility to compose
the elements and components with complex functions, and is yet being made
possible thanks to the flexible industrial producing techniques. These techniques
can vary from suitability in small numbers to large series as well.


Fig. 30: Interior view of the rear faade of the Town Hall of Alphen aan den Rijn, NL, (during
construction). Architect: Erick van Egeraat.

Fig. 31: Rear faade of the Town Hall with spaghetti-lintels of cold twisted insulated and laminated
glass panels (0,9x2,0m ).




Material building products are distinguished in the rich professional linguistic

usage, in various terms of which the following descriptions are laid down.
Building product: 6
Product development is concerned with material products. All the notions in
which the word product occurs, are being used to point at specific
characteristics of a product. They should rather not be used in a hierarchical
range of the building up from the smallest parts to a complete building. The
notion product is too generally applicable for that. It is sensible, though, to
distinguish various types of products, due to their accessibility to wishes and
requirements of consumers.
Standard product: 7
A standard product is a building product
with unalterable characteristics. It can be
applied in the building practice in a great
number of different situations, while the
manufacturing of the product itself is not
being influenced by the application
environment or its final positioning. Its
characteristics cannot be changed, it can
only be differently positioned in space
(topology). Cutting or sawing up during
application is of no influence on the
character of the standard product: these
are fittings and adjustments in a building
situation. Typical examples are tiles,
bricks, bolts and nuts.

Fig. 32: Standard products bricks.

System product: 8
A system product is developed as a integral system, and built up from various
functional elements and components, of which the characteristics are not yet
completely determined. The system is developed to be composed in all of its
functional parts to act in the application situation as a coherent whole. The
system knows one level of system design and another level of application
design. The system product is suitable to be applied to divers situations in
various compositions and/or executions. A system product needs amplifying
engineering information for its components and composition to make its final
engineering possible in view of the application and
to be accurately
manufactured for this application purpose. Amplification (or choice parameters)
may be derived from dimensions, sometimes from colour finishing or, for
instance, type preserving, but will never change the design of the system as
such. The technical core of the system product remains unchanged.


An example is an aluminium glass faade system, designed and developed by a

faade system house, described in catalogues, ready as information for
architects. They make their choices in the system possibilities and have the
engineering departments of the faade company to work the application out in a
complete engineering for the particular building at hand. After the application
design the faade manufacturer as a licensee will manufacture the faade from
the elements supplied by the system house.
Special product: 9
A special product, special component or just special is a building component
which is specifically designed and manufactured for an appointed building
project. Sometimes it concerns revolutionary new special product designs. Most
of the times it concerns new systems with a strong own character, which cannot
be fulfilled by the normally available commercial systems. These components
give away the signature of the project architect involved.
At the material side, sometimes special products are built up from
standard and system sub-products with very strong deviations or additions,
sometimes only their functional scheme. After designing this is considered to be
a suitable conceptual special system. It is used as a starting-point (for example
the warm/cold glass faade). The newly designed components with a complete
self-willed appearance is being created on the basis of the core of technical
knowledge and working.

Fig. 33: System product window frame.

Fig. 34: Special product aluminium casting for

train-taxi pillar


In handcraft times architects designed only project-connected for each building

project at component levels. Architect Hendrik P.Berlage did so one century ago
in the famous Exchange of Berlage at the Damrak in Amsterdam. The building
components were normally manufactured by the contractor, either at the
building-site or in his workplace when that was more convenient. Materials and
manufacturing methods were known and rather limited at the same time, so that
products came into being with limited, different characteristics. Both architect
and contractor shared the same knowledge, which was an advantage. After 100
years of industrial development, specialization and customisation, authority
went initially to the building parties, but gradually architects are gaining ground
again, are allowed more decisions with the assistance of specialist-contractors,
like in Free Form architecture.
During the last three decades of the 20th century a great number of
specialist producers and manufacturers manifested themselves on the building
market, all of them with specialized knowledge and special machinery, capable
of producing very special and specific components for building projects.
The exclusive designing of projects and the developing of products is nowadays
only reserved to projects in which:
large series of these special products can be used;
there are strongly deviating demands from common building products;
a more than average budget is available.
Especially in British high-tech architecture specials are often designed by
architects which are developed, manufactured and applied for one single
application and afterwards never serve any other application purpose. We can
then speak of a modern variant of the generally usual special products or
special components. For that matter, these one-off components are, because
of their glossy presentations, by other architects unjustly mistaken for the results
of that, which in general the product development has to offer in the future.
There is a difference between general product development and special
component design. This view is definitely too rosy to be realistic because they
are mostly still manually or only serially manufactured special components with
a more than average acceptable price. Reality, however, is very earthly. As a
rule the product design and development budgets are much smaller and the
architect has to busy himself with the improvement of existing products in a
handy, yet prominent way.
Choice of seven main types of products
The involvement of the project architect is different in the above-mentioned main
types of products in each case. He can choose standard products, or not.
System products may be partly laid down in their application characteristics by
him, because essentially the application design is settled in consultation with
him. Special products are intensively designed and steered in their development
mainly by him. The initiative for product development from the manufacturer is
largest in standard product, whereas the initiative for special products is largest
from the architect. With all transition phases of efficiency versus originality in


between. Summarizing there are 3 major types of products with 4 transition

types of products. In total the seven main types of building products are:

STANDARD products
systematized standard products
standardized system products
SYSTEM products
special system products
systematized special products
SPECIAL products

Building system: 10
A building system is an ordered set of
building elements and building components
with connection facilities which, according to
certain rules or agreements, can be
composed and applied differently each time,
depending on the application environment.
Dependent on the system of construction the
system can be taken apart into spatial subsystems, which can function separately and
also be purchased separately.
The description of a system, however,
differs in the eyes of an industrial designer: it
is rather meant to be a functioning whole
wherein components have their own specific
sub-functions. Therefore, to the industrial
designer an engine-block or a car is a
system, necessary for the building up of
specifically differently functioning elements.
In the building practice the ever different
character and positioning of components in
each application project and final in each
assembling is essential because of the
various characters and scales of buildings.
A building system allows an ever differing
topology (the arrangement of components in
respect of each other). In a building system,
first and foremost the accent lies on the
composition up of similar components,
together forming a building part, like a
system for a main load bearing structure or a
faade. Apart from that each one of several
systems and sub-systems must be able to be
joined together. Which is the co-ordination
and integration challenge.

Fig.35: 7 types of building



Two main groups of building systems can be distinguished, they may differ in
x Producer-directed building systems
x Consumer-directed building systems.
The first group tends more to standardizing, to a more closed character with a
minimal variation, where the second group pursues an open character with a
maximum variation and is being designed towards a higher quality for a specific
building project or the architectonical application. The first category was highly
advocated by Konrad Wachsmann in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then demand
took over from supplies in the building market and the consumer-directed
systems are more popular now.
Standardized system 11:
A standardized system in the building practice is designed, produced and
presented on the market as a collection of components, each of which is
unchangeable, but with arrangement freedom in their assembly as a whole.
They give by their adaptability an adequate and specific answer to a building
technical question. It is a system with an assembly of elements and components
which are fitting together according to a scheme of standing well-considered and
coherent regulations and agreements.
Project system or special system: 12
A project system is a system for a building, a specifically designed, developed
and produced scheme of elements and components according to certain
agreements, having different mutual relations on different locations within that
building. So, a project system as mentioned above, is always pre-fabricated and
not industrially manufactured. Its contract always has to be settled before
production. Specially designed bricks are therefore pre-fabricated, while normal
bricks are industrially manufactured. A project system is a building system for a
certain building only.
There are reasons enough to dwell on this definition because there is a
growing tendency, for an example in the utility building practice, to design for
greater projects certain building elements specifically as systems with their own
characters. They answer to a specific scheme of demands and wishes,
characteristic for the building in question. Architects intervene deliberately with
product development in the form of component design to give these parts of their
building a specific character, fitting in the designed entity of the building as they
want it to become built. Space frames as an image of industrialization have now
been replaced by special spatial structural systems, characteristic for the image
of one building.


Fig. 36: Special steel castings for the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Architect: Renzo Piano &
Richard Rogers.

Fig. 37: Space frame system for a dome of the ING Bank, the
Hague, NL. Architect: Rob Ligtvoet.


Fig. 38: Special system Glazing of the Westelijk Handelsterrein, Rotterdam.

Architect: Jan de Weerd. Structural Design: Mick Eekhout.

Fig. 39: Project system Cardboard dome during construction in IJburg, Amsterdam.
Architect: Shigeru Ban. Structural Design: Mick Eekhout.





From here on the material products will also be considered in a range of

increasing complexity and added value.

Hierarchical range of building products: 13

Fig. 40: Hierarchy of building products.


Raw material: 14
Raw material is the matter in unrefined
condition or shape, not as such directly
applicable to the building practice or
industry. Examples are iron-ore, bauxite,
clay, petroleum, cut down trees.
Material: 15
Material is the purified and for a
processing industry ready unshaped
matter, like cement, sand, synthetic
grains, or in some cases a solid shape
like tree-trunks, steel coquilles
aluminium castings. The chemical
industry knows many interphases
between raw material and material
which are, however, not very essential
to architects.
Composite material: 16
A non-homogeneous assembly of two or
more materials of an essentially different
nature, like concrete and steel fibre
reinforcement for reinforced concrete,
glass fibre as strengthening for
polyester in check-in counters, coextruded PVC/ABS for car bumpers,
laminated glass composed from glass
structural/technical alternative for the
homogeneous material. Glass fibre
reinforced polyester and carbon fibre
reinforced epoxy resins are other
examples of composite materials or
composites, although they do not exist
as combined composites until the
moment that the materials are brought
together to fit in a form and to be cured.
Commercial material: 17
Commercial material is a product of the
building supplying industry, which
cannot be used completely in its shape,
because it has to undergo further shape
processing or shape adjustments, for
instance: metal plates or profiles,
aluminium extrusion profiles, plywood


Fig. 41: Bauxite.

Fig. 42: Aluminium billets.

Fig. 43: Glare. Thin layers of

aluminium and fibreglass.

plates, jumbo glass plates.

In the hierarchical range of raw
material, via material to commercial
materials they are the product of a
mass producing industry (with the
exception of castings which are
manufactured also as commercial
elements in smaller series) but they
are only seen as supply products by
the companies in the building practice
who will produce elements and
components out of them. Commercial
materials areproducts of factories
usually based on mass production
which are distributed via trading to
manufacturers, who in mass or
greater or smaller series manufacture
their elements from them, by shape
cultivations like sawing, drilling, milling
Examples of commercial materials are
jumbo glass plates of annealed glass
(6 x 3,21 metres), plywood panels (2,4
x 1,2 metres/3 x 1,2 metres),
aluminium profiles (6 metres), steel
profiles (12 metres). In the case of
aluminium extrusion profiles and
manually cold rolled (continuously
glowed in interim phases) steel hollow
profiles, the designer can have
influence on the shape and quality of
this half-product, despite the relatively
Nevertheless we still speak of
commercial materials. Usually the
commercial material is the greatest
common divisor in the demand of
possible customers. The choice of the
commercial material in general, marks
the entrance to the domain of the

Fig. 44: . Aluminium extrusions.

Fig. 45: Jumbo glass panels.

Here starts the domain of the product developer and component



Sub-element / Element / /Super-element: 18

An element is understood by the
manufactured from one (= mono)
material or composite material with its
own characteristics, which will be
assembled further in the factory or
workplace into the greater whole of a
sub-component or a component. An
element is, therefore, an independent
unit in character, for instance a window
frame profile, a window rubber gasket or
a glass plate. Elements are mostly
Fig. 46: Jumbo glass panels.
materials by rough or final shaping
(shortening, fraising, boring, slotting and
the likes). The element itself is made of
one material only. In that sense this
description follows that of the chemical
technology. Elements can be used for
their own, indivisible character, but also
because elements, when put together,
form a greater functional whole. The
vocabulary of the component designer
and that of the project architect is partly
different, although they have to
communicate and therefore have to use
a common linguistic usage and
grammar. The various to be assembled
elements may have the same character
and functions, but they may differ in
dimensions or profiles (for instance the
aluminium mullions and transoms in a
faade window-frame), but they may
also differ in character and functions
(aluminium, rubber, glass and stainless
steel for supporting profiles, waterproof
locks, transparent separation planes
and moveable fasteners). From the
notion element it will be possible, when
considered in detail, to derive also the
more refined notions sub-element and
super-element, in order to make the
Fig. 47: From top to bottom: a
profile, a shortened and cut profile, a
notion range more workable when the
shortened and cut profile with cap
plate and flange.
complicated hierarchic functional levels.


Sub-component: 19
A sub-component is understood by assembling different elements into one
functional unity which, in its turn, will have to be assembled at the workshop or in
the factory into a greater whole or component before transportation to the
building-site can take place. Likewise the assembling of sub-components into
components can take place at the workshop when the transportation would
impose too much limitations on the maximum volume or dimensions. An example
is a triangulated delta truss which is conveyed in parts of maximum 12 metres
each (sub component) and is assembled on the site into a triangulated delta
truss of, for instance, 36 metres. This is the component which can further be
hoisted into a roof construction (building component).
An example of a sub-component in the case of faades is a window
which is assembled from various elements, but as such not independent enough
to be transported and to be looked upon as a component. It has to be put into a
window-frame or faade component first. After that it will be transported to the

Fig. 49:
Alternative design
by Octatube for
the Deutsche
Bank in Berlin,
Architect: Frank
O. Gehry.


Fig. 48: 2 glass faade

proposal by the author for
project in Berlin, 1990.


Component: 20
A component is an independently functioning building unit which is built up from
a number of composing elements and sub-components. (Lat.: cum= with,
together and ponere= placing, composing). These elements are assembled into
a component off-site and transported to the site, to be hoisted and fitted up at
the building. The dimensions of the component during the transport and its
completeness are a determining factor in naming them sub-/super- or normal
component. However, it is possible to imagine the assembly at a field factory for
some building components because of their dimensions. This was organized for
concrete components in the 1960s and is again a consideration when very large
roof components have to be made for example for the carbon fibre Free Form
Design roofs of the Mdiateque in Pau, designed by Zaha Hadid, where the
number of joints has to be minimal if at all visible.
Super-component: 21
A super-component is a structure of more
components for a greater whole, assembled at
the building-site before it is fitted. An example
is a big steel structure like a space frame
which is supplied on the site in elements, subcomponents and components, assembled on
ground level at the building-site and after
complete tightening and post-stressing, is
hoisted, positioned and fixed in one go.
Building part: 22
A building part is a collection of components
and super-components of a building with
identical technical functions. Examples are the
foundation, the main load bearing structure,
the faade, the inner walls, the suspended
ceilings, installations etc. The building part is
the biggest possible sub-division of a building
upon which any one component designer in
dialogue with the project architect, invests his
knowledge, skills and insight.

Fig. 50: Geometry of the glass

roof for the Deutsche
Genossenschafts Bank in Berlin,
Germany. Architect: Frank O.
Gehry. Alternative design by

Building segment: 23
A building segment is an imaginary sub-division of a complete building (like a
segment of a pie) assembled from heterogeneous components of different
building parts. The building segment is important for designers and product
developers, because the connections between heterogeneous components in
building parts with different characteristics have to be solved.. In the imaginary
building segment technical development finds its ultimate destination. Here, the
different competencies of the various component designers meet in material
contact, connections need to be designed, co-ordinated and integrated into one


Here ends the domain of the product developer/component designer!

Building: 24
In technological perspective the building as a technical artefact is the total of all
building parts in the ultimate assembled state. Here ends the characteristically
building technical difference at product level and we enter the terminology of
architecture. The building is the solitary domain of the project architect. The
building complex consists of more buildings.
Perceptions used and not used
The perceptions from the hierarchical range are now
set, but working with them may prove to need some
refinement. The more complex hierarchy in
mechanical engineering proves this. Mechanical
engineering is an example for product development in
the building practice. See the refinements that are
possible with the notions sub and super, as smaller
and greater levels of the hierarchic layer in
perception. For instance, a sub-component, a
component and a super-component. In the list of the
above-mentioned perceptions of the hierarchical
range some notions, concerned with a part of a whole
because they occur in linguistic usage, or notions
which are too much applicable at different levels and
therefore confusing, are deliberately left out. They
can, as it were, hover freely from the lowest to the
highest level. In complex composed products they will
automatically be inserted in order to precisely
establish the level of the hierarchy. Between all levels
there will be parts which will be composed to become
wholes for lower levels, but that does not
automatically give them an absolute position in the
range, to help us further along in the linguistic usage.
The notion product in that sense, has amply been in
discussion already. Other examples are all the
notions which have something to do with the word
part, lower part, upper part, whole, entity and the
likes. These will therefore no longer be handled as
usable perceptions in the product development

Fig.51: Hierarchy in
elements and


Next to the three main types of products standard, system and special, there is a
number of other current notions in relation to products. This goes with regard to
the numbers of manufactured identical products. As a distinction the following
(subjectively put) numbers for material productions in the industry may be valid:


small series
medium series
great series/mass

- 100
100 - 1,000
1,000 - 10,000
10,000 to unlimited

Single and multiple products: 25

A single product is a product which is literally manufactured only as one single
piece, or in a somewhat broader conception may be manufactured as a very
small series as multiples. Typical is that, because of the small numbers, there
are no investments made in production techniques. The composing parts are
produced by trade or with the help of existing industrial techniques and
assembly takes place manually and with standard mechanical tools. A work of
art is consciously a single and unique product. Sometimes art is made in
multiples, too. A good building is, as a complete design, also a single product. It
does not matter if the elements and components themselves may be duplicates.
But a unique overall design for a building with unique components tops
Serial product: 26
A serial product is a product which is manufactured in a smaller or greater
series (repetition of equal products). The series is finite and meant for certain
applications or for a limited stock. A series stands midway between a unique
manufacture and a manufacture on a large scale. Between the categories raw
material and building the produced amounts decrease, mass (raw material)
changes into series (elements/components) and ends usually in a unique
application (building). Serial housing can be considered as a serial product, built
up from components which are usually built together or assembled as subsystems. The numbers of houses as products seen by contractors will be
considerably less by a factor 10 than the industrial amounts. Each housing
project has a characteristic radiance and is manufactured from a mixture of on
the spot processed building materials in a rationalized manner, optimized and
assembled on-site and prefabricated building system products and industrial
products, all finally assembled together to function as the house the project
architect composed.
Mass product: 27
A mass product is a product that is usually manufactured industrially in greater
amounts. In principle it is being produced continuously, independent of the
orders of consumers, and delivered from stock. Building designers have, in
general, little or no grip on mass products, but they have more grip on serial
products. A mass product can occur at different levels: from building material,
always as mass products and in some cases to buildings, like the post-war
mass housing schemes we now detest.


Fig. 52: Single product Bekkers Villa in Bilthoven, NL. Architect: Mick Eekhout.

Fig. 53: Multiple products Habitat in Montreal. Architect : Moshe Safdie.


Fig. 54: Serial product De Strijp, Rijswijk, NL.

Fig. 55: Mass product Pendrecht, Rotterdam.



Although the scientists in the domain of Product Development are mesmerized

by the designing and developing of completely new products and by the drastic
renewing of existing products, over renewing on only one aspect, there is a
positive awareness of the relativity of the notion newness. We must be realistic
about this. When do we speak of a new product after all? Does a cosmetic
change or alteration of an aluminium faade system give it the right to the
adjective new? When a turning/tilting window, developed in Germany and
customary over there, is being added to a system of Dutch window-frames and
windows which usually only turn and do not tilt, should we then speak of a new
product on the Dutch market? Or must a product have a totally new concept


before it can be classified as a new product? Is new for us though known for
them, good enough for labelling its newness?
The notion innovation plays an important part in this. Innovation literally
means renewing. Not clear is whether this is about a totally or partly new
demand, or about a totally or partly new answer to that demand. Innovation is a
marketing term rather than a technical one and it is used a only when newness
has been introduced as a success.
If an existing solution would be the answer, it is not the engineers answer
to pose as a designer, at best as an applicant for a solution that others already
found and executed before him. The real engineer designing work always has to
do with original & ingenious, as a basis of the profession. Innovation is a magic
word which implies, with the renewal of a single characteristic of a product, that
more characteristics have been renewed. Or, when more than one characteristic
has been renewed and improved, that this goes for the whole product. Pars pro
The marketing pretension of the word innovation is of no use to a
completely new product, because it is incomparable with a product that existed
before that. We should name products which are completely new in an existing
function new products, while new products for a new function should, in fact, be
named super new products. These supernew products can be distinguished in
an absolute meaning (in the world) and a relative meaning to us as professionals
in the building industry.

Fig. 56: Detail of twisted faade of the Town Hall of Alphen aan den Rijn, NL.
Architect: Erick van Egeraat.


Fig. 57: Heavily loaded

glass structure: glass
water pond in the
Municipal Floriade
Pavilion, Hoofddorp, NL.
Architect: Asymptote

Fig. 58: Exploformed

aluminium roof panels
on a fitting mould for
the Pavilion.

Fig. 59: Cold deformed

glass in the Town Hall
of Alphen aan den Rijn.


An example of a supernew product is the Segway, a two cycle pedestrian

vehicle. As a component designer and product developer , educated in the
architectonical style of Functionalism, the author tends, in order to measure the
degree of originality and ingenuity, to use as a starting point for the innovation
degree or newness degree the basic classic criteria:
An artist will choose a different order (aesthetics first), so will a contractor
(economics first) or a principal, but to a functional architect this order fits. The
Roman architect and author Vitruvius (85-20 bC) wrote, some 2000 years ago,
of Firmitas, Utilitas, Venustas (durability, usefulness and beauty), but also the
efficiency and economy are, as underlying considerations consciously present in
his De Architectura or the Ten Books. In this respect nothing much has
changed in two millenniums.
When a new product scores on both the aspects
Technique and Aesthetics as new, we consider this a new product. We usually
design products for existing functions. Therefore we focus on new products,
which will have to replace existing products. That is why function is only seldom
a newness criterion. Next to that Economy is derived from Technique and
Aesthetics (as well as from selling, applications and more such items) and
therefore Economy as such does not play a part in the newness assessment. In
all sincerity we could sum up four categories of products in a decreasing degree
of newness:
A further refinement would be to apply a grading to:
one characteristic
more characteristics
most characteristics
all characteristics
Completely new products are real triggers in their newness and uniqueness.
They should have to offer solutions for new problems which, till now, were not an
issue. In industrial design the Faade robot comes near to a new product for a
new function, although window washing always has been done by hand. For
instance a new, light-weight and unbreakable glass-like building material which
is load bearing, strong and rigid and chemically resistant: the new and yet secret
unbreakable transparent construction material Zappi, Proposed as a research
goal at TU Delft in 1992 by the author. Or a single-layered roofing that can be
spread evenly on roofs in a liquid form, attaches to everything, even to damp
surfaces, is not bothered by vapour tensions, is waterproof and is obtainable in
several colours. Or a laminated fully-tempered cold-bent glass roof without metal
frames or posts with proper solar transmission capacities, maintaining a high


light transmission. You name it! And everything which comes near to these
fantastic ideas. Lengthy development work with much examination energy which
demands a vast financial investment proves, however, hardly possible in the
building practice in general and is certainly not common. But new products do
have a renewing effect on thought and on the product assortments of the

Fig. 60: Glass Extension to the Prinsenhof Museum in Delft. Architect: Mick Eekhout.

Fig. 61: Five star hotel in London, England, conceived as a 150m long luxury yacht.
Design by Tim Saunders.


Fig. 62: Interior of the Glass Music Hall in the Exchange of Berlage, Amsterdam. Architect:
Pieter Zaanen, Structural Design: Mick Eekhout.

Replacements of existing products by renewed products which show

improvements on important points, often show this only in one or some aspects.
For instance aluminium window-frames with single or double cold bridge barriers.
Glass panels with a high thermal insulation value and an invisible coating, hardly
transmitting any solar energy, but yet fully transparent.
Imitation products will only be new or innovative to a certain company, or
person , but they are not new on the market. One can find an attitude with a
company which wants to get its share on the market like a me too attitude
usually after it has watched other companies with a more daring nature having
done the dirty work. Each and every company has legion products which are
inspired by a continuous following of the market development process, what the
demands are and also what is supplied by the competition in the branch.
Followers are never exceptionally original but, by jumping on the back of a riding
bicycle, they avoid the initial expenses and especially the initial risks. Therefore
they can be less expensive. That is often the reason of this attitude. To be
successful there is a big parcel to be positively filled with ingredients: the product
mixture. Imitation products with a carefully assembled product mixture can, in
principle, score higher than new products, sourly enough. It is therefore not
illogical to assume that relations between marketing people and designers are
often strained. It came as far that a Dutch member of the Pilkington glass
concern spoke at a TU symposium, saying that renewing came into being by


logical thinking, clever pinching and creatively pushing on. He wrote it twice in
the proceedings of that symposium. Of course, after this a correspondence
followed between the author and this speaker. Engineers are supposed to be
original thinkers.
Next to our own vision as product developers on supernew, new, renewed
or imitation products, both the opinion of the producing company and the
consuming project architects counts. When the architect looks upon a product
with only one significant improved characteristic as being completely renewed,
the producer will hurry to join in. On a mainly conservative product market, like
for instance the German market, this will even be a pro, in order not to drown in
the swamp of Systemzulassungen and Zulassungen' im Einzelfall, system
permits and special permits for building these product systems. It is then better
that only detail improvement and partial innovations, or even cosmetic
alterations are considered to keep the authorities from becoming frightened off.
So, the notions innovative and new are often a give and take. Imitation will
naturally only be applied to the competition, rather not to ourselves! Only, they
follow us; we, of course, are more original! An actual insight in the abovementioned could be obtained by analyzing, during a visit at any building
exhibition in the world, for example one hundred recommended new or
innovative products and see their actual degree of newness. My hypothesis
would be that new will only be limited to a few percentages, maybe renewed for
a ten percent and the rest will be imitation. It will be interesting to work that out
further and philosophise on its consequences for the future development of the
building industry as a whole. But even more interesting is, of course, to
drastically jack up the number of new products and with that make our influence
as building product developers felt by the quality in the building practice in a
positive way. And would it not be stimulating when each architect would design
and develop at least one new component product in each new building. That
would lead to thousands of incremental innovations per year, only in the


A furthermore interesting consideration is how new products would be received

at the market by professional consumers. We assume that those consumers are
project architects and contractors (usually one of the two has the authority of
deciding the application of a building product).
Some people will immediately use a renewal as soon as it is introduced
on the market. Sometimes for opportunist reasons, where the danger that the
first application will remain the only one, is always present. The first on the block
effect is an American illustration with this: the first tenant on the block buying a
pink Cadillac will create a sensation, the second is only an imitation of the first.
To get the second and third buyer on the same block to go that far is far more
difficult than it is for the first buyer. Project architects can look forward to new
products because a function will improve or a composition will become more
beautiful. The Dutch architect Jo Coenen was in absolute exaltation for the
frameless Quattro glazing system of the entrance hall of the Netherlands


Architecture Institute at Rotterdam, because with that the membrane feeling

between inside and outside could be expressed in a new and unique manner.
Some high-tech architects (the author has particularly experienced that with
Foster Associates and Richard Rogers Partnership, but with other London
offices it is no different), fortunately are so dedicated to practice directed
research and development in the field of building components, that they even
continuously take the initiative for product development in the field of their
building components as an office approach. They employ technical architects
and component architects in their offices who, in their turn, try to challenge the
industry and pull it forward.

Fig. 63: Horizontal section. Detail of the connection with the inner glass pane .

Others will want to wait and see, until the product has proved its value on the
market. Especially architects who rather choose from a building catalogue of
products with proven qualities, will not be stamping to be the first to integrate
the new product into their building. The Dutch architects Jan Benthem and Mels
Crouwel (among other things house-architects of Schiphol Airport) have made it
known for several times that they want to belong to this categorie: an innovative
application of an existing proven product, rather than an experimental
application of a new product. Contractors will normally wait for the practical proof
of reliable quality behaviour, so they will never want to build the firstling. Others
again, architects and contractors alike, will never start something new. In
analogy of known terms from the consumer market [25], we could distinguish
five categories of consuming product appliers for our industrial building market,
based on the point in time on which they apply a new product. As possible
product appliers we see, again: project architects and contractors. Non-appliers
are not admitted to the list.


Fig. 64: First application

of structural double
glazing with mechanical
connection only to the
inner glass panel in the
Netherlands Architecture
Institute, Rotterdam.
Architect: Jo Coenen.

Fig. 65: Border Station

Hazeldonk,NL. Architects:
Benthem & Crouwel.

Fig. 66: Border Station

Nieuweschans, NL.

Architects: Benthem &



Project architects are looked upon as pioneers, they themselves take initiatives
to the developing of new components, usually in their own projects, but because
of the sincerity and profoundness with which they do this, they will often be a few
steps ahead of producers in developing. Often a producer, respectively a
product designer, can rapidly answer their wishes by introducing a new
component product, improving an existing product rigorously or introducing a
method of manufacturing, respectively realization of the by these pioneers, or
together with these pioneers, thought up renewed products. The pioneers are
often ahead of the producers and therefore producers and their product
designers have to do their utmost to take over the initiative and again enter a
dialogue with the pioneers. The Danish architect Jrn Utzon was such a pioneer
when he designed the Sydney Opera House in 1956, with its famous concrete
shell roofs in days when nobody knew how such shell structures could be
realized. The young Peter Rice had his hands full with this problem for years.

Fig. 67: Sydney Opera House, Australia. Architect Jrn Utzon.

Many British high-tech architects can be considered as pioneers, for instance

Richard Rogers, who developed a new type of translucent glass for the Lloyds
building in London. Norman Foster, who developed for the Hong Kong and
Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong a reflection mirror, automatized at the sun, to pull
the outside light in the internal atrium. Renzo Piano who developed new scale
components for light distributors above the roof of the Menhil Museum in Texas.
Although Piano went further with this in the spirit of Louis Kahn and others, his
shell roofs have their very own place in the building product development by
their prefabrication assembly. The Delft architects office Cepezed (Jan Pesman
and Michael Cohen) initiated new applications of metal sandwich panels in
various projects in the Netherlands and Germany and won several Steel Awards
with their portfolio. Moshe Safdi designed sculptural roofs for the Rabin Centre in
Tel Aviv, which were redesigned, developed, produced and built by the author
and Octatube as glass fibre reinforced structural sandwich shells, a world


Early appliers
Early appliers are an innovative, spectacular
and opinion leading group of professionals
whom the entire market is watching and
whose opinion is highly respected. Once they
consider a product good enough to be applied,
other categories will follow more rapidly. Yet
they are a group which only accounts for a
small percentage of the market, but which will
quickly tend to apply an innovation. Compared
to the later appliers they will be younger,
technically more daring and often not dwell on
the most small-minded or squeezed out
projects. They have a good reputation which
they like to keep up. They have a broader look
on the development of the building technology,
a worldly view on architecture and building
technology. Often they have already checked
and compared data and facts, through other
sources. They tend to sooner take up an
inspiring technical tale than a salesman tale
through which they pierce easily with their
expertise. Well grounded, but not gullible.

Fig. 68: Schematic of the reflection

mirrors for light distribution in the
inner atrium of the Hong Kong and
Shanghai Bank in Hong Kong.
Architect: Norman Foster.

Early majority
This group accepts innovations just slightly sooner than the majority of the
consuming architects. Convincing contacts are salesmen, advertisements and
the early deciders.
Late majority
They really sit upon the fence, rather sceptical when it comes to innovation.
Usually they look for innovations from economical motives or are pushed to that
by their principals (show us something new), because they do not want to run
any risks. They often rely on the eloquence of their elders or forerunners.
Verbal advice falls into more fertile ground with them than advertisements or
salesman tales.
The last of the market are the super-traditional dawdlers. They will be the last to
take their chance with innovations or, if it concerns project architects, they will
have innovations applied by contractors, which is usually bad business because
then it is only about economical benefits, whoever maintains that (contractor or
principal). By the time the dawdlers are that far to consider the new product, it
will be well possible that the pioneers are already busy with a once again
improved version of that product. They are already behind when it comes to
finally applying.




Literature on marketing of new products [5] mentions that the greater part of
financial investments in product development is not rewarding because of the
high risk of failure. Usually there is an extensive going into the reasons behind
failed products. Only a small percentage of new products becomes a success
and the main part breaks down somewhere in the stage between product idea
and product launching. In view of the herewith coupled destruction of capital
investments it is particularly sensible to analyze the reasons behind a possible
failure, before we thrust ourselves in full fierceness on the development process
itself. According to the American firm of marketing advisers Booz, Allen &
Hamilton [25] it is realistic to estimate that on the consumers market the chance
to failure of a newly introduced product, even with a good marketing preparation,
is as high as 80%. Viewing from the new product ideas (which, of course, not all
have become newly launched products), then that percentage is even 98%. That
means to say that only two of the hundred new product ideas will survive and
become successful consumer market products.

Fig. 69: Failure of a glass panel during a

structural glazing test for the Garden Road
Skyscraper in Hongkong.

Fig. 70: The cause for the failure proved to

be a too small U-profile that fitted the glass.

Now, fortunately the building industry in this respect is an industrial market. Yet
we must get this warning into our heads. A characteristic difference is that the
building product usually has a long life-span, sometimes even longer than the
life-span of the application to one single building. In fact, with the current state
of affairs the development of new products is the worst controlled process of
the industrial enterprise (quotation: Professor Paul de Ruwe in his inaugural
speech Young and Learned at TU Delft, 1993 [ ISBN 90-6275-863-4]). Only a
very small fraction of all product ideas results in a successful product. Success
is herewith defined as belonging to a product that answers to the expectations
which the producing company had at the start, or better than that. Of all the
product ideas which were taken in hand, almost 80% fails before the
programme of demands is rounded off. To stop in as early a phase in the
product development process as possible is probably the least worrying of all


failures: the efforts are still low at that time. The delay at the start of the next perhaps successful- product cannot be made up for. After that 3% of the cases
stops before the concept is definitively determined. During detail designing only
0,5% of all the started ideas fails, but later, with the manufacturing and
introduction on the market another 5 and 7,5% respectively breaks down. All
together an output of successful products of less than 5%. To a valuable
industrial development process an alarmingly low number!
The traditional building market has, with its traditional atmosphere of
piecework commissions, always been able to withdraw itself from the valuable
unknown influences on the outlet of industrial products which were devised and
produced and then introduced on the market. In the traditional building practice it
has been the other way around for a long time: first there was the thinking of
what to produce, then there was purchasing and only then came manufacturing.
So, the marketing influence was less strong than in the other extreme case of
the consumer market. Product development at the traditional building market
was not much more than choosing from existing materials, drawing and
producing. But the world changes irreversibly. Materials become more
expensive, wages become more expensive, manual work experts become
scarce and production techniques become more refined and specialized all the
time. Also in the building practice more and more components are being
manufactured in workplaces and factories outside the building industry and that
at a point in time before the building-site is ready for application. This specialism
calls for concentration of contracts. So the building producer arrives eventually
at the industrial building market, while he has to go on with product developing
continuously in order to stay ahead of the competition. Many producers in the
building industry who are successful, use product development continuously
because they introduce new products on the market far more often than their
colleagues, they invest far more new technology in them, try to stick to a tight
product development schedule and are at ease with far more product categories
and geographical markets. Besides, product development has a certain learning
effect (the more innovation takes places, the more efficient these processes can
be carried out) and it becomes clear that product development can give a good
lead of the competition. The following six failure causes are all seen from the
viewpoint of the producing industry, it concerns standard and system products.
However, as causes of failure very often the same will appear:
Insufficient marketing analysis;
About half of the companies sees, in hindsight, the failure of the product
as a result of insufficient market research. Sometimes a wrong product is
manufactured for the market, in other cases a product for the wrong
market. A lack of market research like that arises when the producer
behaves as a technician, mainly focussed on technology, and does not
take enough time for market research when his competitor introduces a
new or improved product on the market and he feels challenged not to
stay behind. Reactions like these often lead to hasty and ill-judged


Technical problems with the product;

A princely part of the failures is due to
insufficient functioning of the product. Then it
often concerns defects which well before the
introduction could have been discovered but,
due to a too hasty product development
process were skipped or overlooked,
respectively minimized (we will solve this
when we get there). Before the product is
being launched the question must be asked:
What does the new product do what other
products dont do? When the answer is
negative, the new product will not become a
success. Depending on the branch technical
problems are either or not at all tolerable
(remember the aircraft industry).
Unexpected high production costs;
When the final cost-price of a product turns
out to be higher than was initially estimated,
the product can prove to be not saleable. In
that case it is advisable to choose a different
production method, to issue the product
completely under licence, or to simply stop it
and swallow the losses. No company will want
to manufacture a product of which the output
does not equal the direct variable costs; the
overhead costs can be stepped across in
exceptional cases at times.
Fig. 71: Six causes for
Power or reaction of the competition;
failure of standard and
system products seen
The most common reasons for the failure of a
from the perspective of
product are within the limitations and
the producing industry.
possibilities of the producer. Sometimes there
is, however, a market which suddenly drops
off or shuts down, also sometimes the competitors will react more rapidly
to an introduction than anticipate when they too already had a similar new
product developed, only not yet introduced on the market. Sometimes
even the tiniest price reduction of an existing product can take away much
beat up power (with the advantages) from a new product. The same
counts for international fluctuations of dollar versus euro.
Badly chosen point of time for Introduction;
Every now and then it happens that a new product is introduced without
having a market for it. More often, however, it occurs that the new product
enters the market after a similar product from another producer has
already answered the markets demand, so the market has quickly
vanished. The complicated internal procedures of product developing and
the ever slowing external procedures at building factories for new products
can be causes of late reactions to the market. Often planned introductions


must be postponed for a long time because of bureaucracy, and in the

mean time the market or the interest of the producer changes.
Non-effective marketing efforts;
Often a new product is not accompanied by the necessary extra care a
market introduction needs. One thrusts oneself rather often on the next
project, before the new product is hardly introduced on the market. And
especially in this period of time, right after the new product is launched,
often after receiving the first reactions of potential buyers, the marketing
strategy needs adjustment. Also often the mistake is made that producers
make their way to markets which are new to them, or sell new products
with which they have no experience. A hasty entering of the market often
leads to disappointment, not because the product as such would not be
good, but because the marketing mix of a certain product market (a
combination of, for instance, instruction, service with production of the
design and distribution) is different than expected. In cases like these it is
wise to provide a licence to a company that has already won its spurs with
similar products. International markets must be approached like this.
In essence the product-in-development can perish in all activities and phases of
the development process. An encouragement to be alert above all, suspicious
rather than easy-going. It may always go wrong on aspects. There is always
something going wrong and it never goes right automatically. One has to design
his own future all the way. If we want to handle our energy efficiently, we must
operate extremely cautious, we may be naive at times, but moreover we must
be sharp and provident. And we shall have to take risks.
Murphys Law
The meaning of this paragraph is actually derived from the failures in the abovementioned. As long as there is not enough discipline in the building practice to
adjust the process organisation to the demands of prefabricated building, it will
never work. Architects often tend to hand up changes till the moment on which
the components appear at the building-site, as if it simply concerns building
materials which one can choose, sometimes even till a week before delivery of
the prefabricated components at the building-site. However, elements and
components have a long period of designing, engineering and production
behind them before they are delivered at the building-site. In general the
architect and the contractor do not reserve enough time to go along with the
preparation process properly (in the sense of production). The main contractor
decides too late because he is waiting for some more competitive prices. He
covets a lever effect: to make a lot of money with little trouble and no risk at all
by obtaining an even lower price or by finding a contractor with an even more
lower price, respectively to make a competitor from an ignorant branch brother.
The architect thinks that it is not his cup of tea to force a purchase decision.
Working with traditional materials the contractor could buy his materials at many
suppliers. Now this choice is limited, the starting period much longer (we talk of
system products and of special products) and that thwarts a traditional planning.
What has Murphys Law got to do with this? Well, the prototypical designing and


building seem to have, in its process execution, so many degrees of difficulties

and information transmission that may go wrong, that we can always say that
everything which can go wrong, indeed does go wrong. Failure reports from
the most unexpected angles. Product development is a specialism that must be
managed with much consciousness and much concentration. These series of
notions shows the manufacturing from raw material to a building or building
complex. It starts with raw material in mass production, with the help of
chemical and mechanical processes, being refined to elementary material, then
mixed and produced to material and through various techniques they are
assembled to mixed or alloyed material or composite material. This physical
material can be assembled further without losing characteristics, like is done
with the laminating of layers of material or composite material.
Via one or more production processes follow the shape manufacturing
into commercial material (also known under the less preferred, because
confusing names half-products), which enter the building industry after that
moment. Only then we begin to speak of the family of building products. Up to
this moment the production normally is mass production. The numeric
production decreases slowly until the product building usually is put together
as a unique (or multiple when house building is concerned) product.. Arrived at
the workplace or the production hall of a building producer, the trading material
will be roughly shaped and cultivated into mono-material sub elements which will
become elements after surface processing and super elements after connection
of similar elements . Elements which are manufactured by transforming and/or
chipping from commercial materials are brought about by shape processing.
Other elements which are manufactured by direct shaping techniques (casting,
powder pressing etc.) from materials are brought about by shape manufacturing.
Therefore a casting is in essence a sub-element which becomes an element
after mechanical processing. After disengagement more processing take place,
partly at the foundry (sharp-edge removal), partly at the assembly industry
(machining, milling, threading, drilling etc.). Powder metallurgy always brings
forth pure sub-elements. In this range an element is the smallest divisible
substantive mono-material part. Here it was first the 3-D main shape which was
manufactured as commercial material, usually in mass production in a factory,
and afterwards in series the mechanical interim processing at a workshop and
finally any of the surface cultivations to become a ready to hand element. A
number of different elements which have various functions in the whole, are
directly assembled into a component. As an alternative they can be assembled
by one or more interphases into sub-components, of which a number then can
be assembled into a component. Components, therefore, are the composed
parts of a whole (therefore, an element can be nothing else but elementary and
a component assembled). The components are being transported to the
building-site and, if necessary, at the building-site assembled on floor level into a
super component which is hoisted and mounted on/to the building in the state in
which it is.
Components then are assembled to a building part, being the total
collection of components with identical functions. The building part in its turn
knows an order in the form of a sub building part and a super building part. A


building segment is any given part of the building, built up from incongruous
components, like a segment of a pie. With the designing and engineering of a
building segment all the characteristics of the assembled components are laid
down, as well as their mutual connections. Hence segments are a popular way
of presenting a designed building system by students: all difficulties are shown
to be solved. A building segment does not play a prominent role in the hierarchy.
With the producing and building of components into a building segment all
the problems concerning connections are also checked and improved for further
execution. The interest in product development, the care for the development of
new and renewed building products and building components stops, in fact, with
the building segment. Building segment, building and building complex are the
three degrees of the building, comparable with sub-element, element and super
element and sub-component, component and super component, but they fit, in
essence, in the domain of the project architect. The different building parts form,
in their assembled state, together the building, or its plural, the building complex.
The lower level of the landscape and town-planning join in this, but from the point
of view of product development it is not of a significant influence.




Every architects office and every design & engineering

department of a producing company has an ongoing
flow of projects which mostly revolves on their routine.
The designing of new works with new materials and
techniques is comparable with the position of a
development department of a car producer. The usual
horizontal process model in which continuous
production prospers well, is now traversed by a vertical
and strong information flow. This is usually well
conducted by a project leader who is mainly
concerned with his own project and has to execute this
within his own time schedule. Design and development
departments are often for obvious reasons left out of
the production process. They often bring about much
unease in a regular production process. Main
contractors often say: Experiments must be done
before the building-site, or else on the site of another


The traditional architects office is divided into smaller

functions or larger departments, including a number of
added ad hoc sections inside or out, like that of the
structural engineer and the costs estimator / quantity
surveyor. The present specialisms in all sections take
care of a smooth processing of the projects, if the
design consists of ingredients which are known in all
sections. All departments inside and out have their
hierarchy and work division, their specialism and
processing speed. It works well as a production-unit
for known buildings and building types which, for
instance, have social housing or rental development
offices as their output.
The introduction of the project based design
processes, with a powerful stamp on the terms new,
complex, experimental, extensive and fast, causes the
separations between the departments to stand out
clearer than the agreements. In that case the loss of
information and motivation begins to show clearer
disadvantages with every transmission from one
department to the other, resulting in longer
consultations and discussions. If the separations
between the successive departments stay within one

Fig. 72: Architectural



company, something might be done about it. But when the separations are, in
fact, not between departments in one company but between independent
companies, the problem is even greater. The climax is the usual ad hoc building
organisation around a new building project which is also horizontally strongly
articulated in independent companies, being the sections which treat the building
as a project. It does not seldom happen that the actual inquiry of a building
component is faxed to producers from the main contractor on a couple of A4
sheets. Usually only with difficulty an insight can be gained in the connections
with other components, let alone about the relation of the component with the
whole building. While the architect has been busy for months to make detailed
drawings on which also the position and the importance of the demanded
component is shown, only a shadow of the available information appears at the
desk of with the potential producers and co-makers. This erosion of information
brings along the loss of motivation. In the realization process of the building
practice, the above-mentioned sections are usually also independent
enterprises. Between these enterprises there is not even the strive for the same
purpose, namely profit for the complete enterprise, because there is no such
thing as one complete business. Because of the continuous fragmentation of an
ad hoc building team in separate companies in the building practice and the selfcomplacency, the horizontal model is likely to be understood. The model,
however, does not function anymore when building processes get more and
more complex, because such a process is doomed to deteriorate into a tribal
feud. Every building meeting can become a collision between different interests,
like the current building processes show in increasing frequencies.


That is why a vertical project leader from the

architects office or the engineering department is
busy in the preparation process to minimize the
frictions between the separate designing and
engineering departments. A vertical project leader
in the organization of the main contractor is busy to
get the independent companies, which as subcontractors and producers become involved in the
project, in one line.
The advantage of the vertical project
leaders model is the vigour of an explicit project
leader who pulls the design or the project through all
departments in the preparation phase and through
all the companies in the execution phase. In the first
instance this model suits a corporate process
excellently, so within one single company. In the
executing building practice with its conglomerate of
ad hoc companies per building project a manner like
that should also have to bear better fruits, in the
sense that working can be more efficient, with less


Fig. 73: Project leader.

investments in working hours, less costs and towards a better product. Much
energy usually gets lost in the battle between the horizontal structure of
companies and the vertical directedness of the project leader. The stronger the
project leader, the better the project runs. The weaker the project leader, the
slower the development will take place, thanks to the autonomous decision
qualifications of the separate heads in their horizontal departments or
companies. The fight between the competencies of the horizontal heads of
departments, respectively independent department managers (who have a flow
of similar products for different projects under their care) and the vertical project
leader (who manages all different components of one single project) often takes
giant proportions. The fight between vertical and horizontal exhausts people and
demotivates them.


The question is how to find a better workable

balance. A possible solution may be the matrix
organisation, descended from the development
processes for new cars of Japanese car
manufacturers. The book The Machine that
Changed the World, the story of lean production by
James Womack et al [15] is about the differences
between the traditional horizontal processing (as
this is operated in the mass production of American
and European car manufacturers) and the vertical
processing under the supervision of a project
leader with a very high autonomy, a development
manager, like in Japanese car factories. The result
is as these Americans put in their MIT-studies, that
the principles of lean production are:
efficient use of resources and elimination of
continuous improvement.
Through this only these are needed for results:
half the human effort in the factory
half the manufacturing space
half the investment tools
half the engineering hours
half the time to develop new products.

Fig. 74: Project leader

through subsequent

A total implementation of the lean design & production principle would have
revolutionary consequences for the role-playing in the building practice. But it
also has to be possible to find and implement a good, coherent solution, which in
spite of the fragmentation of the building process can nevertheless lead to the


realization of an inspiring design. A clear disadvantage of the matrix

organization, however, is that the result does not indisputably need to be better
in the sense of quality. As a result of the matrix operation the MIT scientists do
not mention double the quality. Not many architects drive around in Japanese
cars. The power of the conceptual nucleus of the design process can find itself
in an under-exposed corner by the strongly time-directed process approach.
This nucleus of the design process has to be marked in the matrix scheme with
a red dot. The originality of the design must be strongly held upright and not be
watered down in the waves of a consensus process. An obvious way to exploit
the advantages and neutralize the disadvantages of these two types of design
processes: the vertical and the horizontal design process, is to put them on top
of each other and try to get to a matrix organisation whereby the process can be
supervised by a powerful leader and whereby the design process within the
complete development process is sometimes broad (horizontally directed) and
sometimes narrow (vertical). To be successful, a strong project leader is
needed. To score a qualitatively good result, a strong design has to be made
which has to be respected and defended up to the completion. But one of the
secrets of lean design & production is that the negative obstructions have to be
transferred into positive co-operations, maintaining the characteristic of the
horizontal structures and the vertical process movement. In many organizations
this will be a difficult job. The type of organization does not matter here, because
a head-on collision between horizontal and vertical lies in wait every time and in
the world of matrices it is a universal problem.


One of the manners of organization to come to improving efficiency in the

current product development is Concurrent Engineering. The manner of
organization, indicated as Concurrent Engineering has been started in the
American defense-industry, transmitted by product developing internationals and
welcomed and imported by engineering departments of the civil engineering
industry. It is based upon the principle of greater synchronism of execution of
activities by various participants in a preparation process. The transition of civil
engineering to architecture goes along with an increase of complexity and
integration, through which separately and concurrently (simultaneously) working
at separated aspects/components will be accomplished with much more
The notion Concurrent Engineering is not often used yet in the building
practice. Yet the process agreements on which the notion is based are in use in
the building practice right enough. It is something like new wine in old barrels.
Simultaneous engineering implies engineering work at more than one place by
more than one person. Analogous to the notion co-producer and co-makership
we might speak of co-engineer and co-engineering. The building process can,
for convenience sake, be distinguished in a preparation phase and an execution
phase. Engineering implies that the design is the preparation process and not
the execution process, where synchronism of executing activities is quite
common. Concurrent production is, by its nature of contracting and sub


contracting to different companies, very logical, on the condition that the

products and component products to be made are sufficiently described in the
preparation phase. In the engineering this is apparently less common, else it
would not be worth it to dedicate a new notion to it. The notion Engineering
needs some more explaining. In the building practice Engineering has two
meanings: the overall process can be called engineering. The second meaning
is working out only a part of the total process). In the first meaning it can be
understood to contain the full package of four different functions:
Engineering (overall working drawings, component drawings, production-,
assembly- and installation drawings.
Engineering is used for both the complete preparation process and for the last
part of it, namely the engineering of the spatial plan, material principles and
details, fixed in the preceding designing, developing and examination phases. In
a less complex and less personally committed preparation process as is
common in civil engineering, the notion engineering is understood by the
complete preparation process. On the other hand, in the architectonical
preparation process the design element is quite clearly lighted out, as being the
strongest specialism of the architect as an autonomous building partner.
Concurrent engineering is an attractive principle which in the great
conglomerates in America has led to interesting efficiency improvements.
Concurrent Engineering in product development is the simultaneously
processing of different phases and activities by various participants during the
development process.
The improvement of efficiency (getting maximum results with minimum energy)
as primary aim of Concurrent Engineering can be further detailed as:
shortening of the running time of the preparation process;
Drastically price-cuts of process and product;
Attaining the demanded quality faster;
The time, allowed for the engineering phase, is often reversedly derived from the
time which is needed from the side of the principal to obtain the building licence.
This process is attended with the consequences of participation and legal
regulations and can consume a lot of time. A principal often wants to earn back
the loss of time by shortening the building time (= preparation + realization). With
the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the demand, questions are allowed
to be asked. With a parallel process of obtaining the building permit and the
engineering process, time can be earned, but risks of unnecessary investments
in working hours have to be considered if the executing engineering needs
feedback again and must be done again if such proves to be necessary in the
course of the building permit process.
The usual planning of the building process is a beam chart of partly
overlapping and partly shifted beams, representing separate activities in the
process. Off-site productions may progress completely parallelic. Yet the


execution phase is based upon the presence of a set design which is described
with a certain exactness. In the preparation phase, however, all design decisions
have not yet been made. It is particularly the sequence, casu quo concurrency of
these design decisions which are extorted by CE. With this the risk arises that
work is done at one activity or process phase which, by the results of other
activities afterwards is frustrated. In those cases it is either waiting for critical
decisions or taking a calculated risk. CE is very popular with big companies
which execute their process developments completely in-house. Also in Dutch
companies where the preparation processes of product development take place
completely in-house and the calculated risks take place within one financial
annual account, CE is a good possibility to work more efficiently.
The efficiency principle to come to a maximum result with the help of
minimal energy is endorsed by many, provided that the result is of a sufficient
quality. Or: final quality stands opposite process efficiency, an interesting
Customary planning processes start from linear activities: one activity is
followed by the other. That is surveyable. Some activities need feedback from
other activities to get started: so, a feedback, a short cycle or a concurrency with
in-between couplings. But there are also activities which can be executed
without relations with others, autonomously and simultaneously. That could be
called, derived from electrical connections, a parallel connection. There are a
number of reasons leading to an obligation to improve the efficiency of the
preparation process in the building practice:
The increasing complexity of the building plan;
The increasing level of technical specialization;
The shortening total building process time;
Tight building budgets;
More powerful influence on development of building parts.
Because of these causes pressure is put on the engineering partners to come to
a shorter total of building time. Concurrent Engineering is one of the solutions.
The four different process phases: Design, Development, Research and
Engineering know their own suitability to co-engineering in the building practice.
Co-engineering in the design phase does not mean that the fear of the
large white sheet of paper will be shared together. In fact it is still the architect
who has to put a totally private design on paper with all of his private wisdom
and inspiration. The design phase is in the conceptual phase hardly suitable for
co-engineering: that much know-how has to come from the architect himself. He
has to unravel the Gordian knots of counteracting demands and his ideas all by
himself. Co-engineering in the phase of the materializing and drawing of the
design is often wished for because the architect needs information on systems,
techniques and materials for the exact determination of his conceptual design
which he does not have ready at hand himself. He can obtain this information
from his technical architect-colleagues, from advisers and producers. Advisers in
the phase of design are often followers and not initiating, at the most they are
participating. That is the very complaint of many architects. In fairness it must be
said that many architects do not give space to their advisers to participate, let


alone to take initiatives. However, the British high-tech architects offices are, by
the way, striking examples of CE in the phase of designing, because their egos
are generous enough to allow the impulses from producers and advisers; they
even stimulate that. These architects are not afraid of losing their position and by
thinking so, they dont. The weaker the architects position, the more desperate
the ambitious architect will try to keep up the power hierarchy, which in fact is
emptied in the field of technological knowledge. Producers are an alternative
road to the lacking technical knowledge of architects. Many invitations to
producers for co-engineering are being made without any promise for
compensation and often willing co-engineers are left out in the cold when it
comes to the final building contract. The architect will always blame the whims of
the contracting process, but the co-engineer will feel he has been cheated on
and will not go for such an adventure a second time.
Co-engineering in the development phase of a building design and of a
component design occurs more often because in this phase, starting with the
overall design of the building, the individual components of the building can be
de-constructed and developed more or less separately, within the awareness of
the integration of components.
Co-engineering in the research phase can, of course, be done very easily
because research is normally directed at strongly isolated problems, usually of
components of the building or aspects of these and therefore various
investigations and researches can be carried out simultaneously. The mutual
stimulus of these partial researches is often not that strong that there will be a
fierce mutual influence, in comparison with designing.
Co-engineering in the engineering phase often occurs because the
complete building design as well as the composed components are welldescribed, well-defined and so the building can simultaneously be developed in
components. The stimulus of co-engineering, however, is by the dictated
character of the components not often surprising anymore. In the usual ad-hoc
building organization where many independent companies have to work together
upon the basis of a rough agreement, there are no balanced and set rules for
CE. Particularly by the differences in the hierarchical authority there will be
continuous demands from the higher ranks, with financial consequences for the
lower ranks to fulfill. Usually, with a cooperation in the conceptual phase, there
will be an agreement on a set price and only then the demands will become
clear. In the later phase of estimation it is usually only arranged that work
drawings have to be executed to the satisfaction of the management. This gives
all the power of veto to the architect, while the co- designer, who makes the
work drawings, runs the risk of having to do his work all over again and again,
for a fixed price. The alternative is waiting for full information before a new
activity is started up, which lengthens the designing and engineering time. A
solution could be to come to a well-balanced and clear set Concurrent
Engineering agreement schedule, for the preparation phase as well as for the
execution phase, which all parties in these processes should adhere to. Within
one single company CE is easier to accomplish. In fact this means, viewed from
the larger company with the countless manageable information flows, the
recovery of efficiency which can only revolve in one single designers head. In


fact, CE is a means to get a slow working and broad engineering group to work
faster again. On smaller companies CE will not have a great impact because
they work with quick design decisions already. Concurrent Engineering for
Product Development, or Simultaneous Product Development is an important
theme because it causes the process execution to work differently (shortened by
overlapping parallels) than in the Organograms as described in the previous
chapters. To standard products, where the product designer has a close
relationship with the producer and where the producer is completely responsible
for the preparation process, concurrency of phases is possible (for instance
Concept Phase simultaneously with that of the Provisional Marketing or the
Prototype Phase simultaneously with the Definite Marketing), but also of
activities (for instance Structural Research, simultaneously with Detail Research
and Material Research). For special products and all products between special
and standard, where the influence of the demand side (i.e. the architect) is
important, goes that beforehand there must be made clear agreements to which
all the parties must stick. The main contractor as appointed filter and sieve
between project architect and product designers can be a slowing-down factor at
Co-engineering finds itself in a tension arc of stimulating and restraining
factors. Modern means of communication like the computer, fax and E-mail have
a very stimulating influence on co-engineering, even on a worldwide scale. But
the hierarchy in the building process and in competences at personal level can,
for instance, have a restraining influence. The mutual personal relations and the
hierarchical authority relations determine for the most part the ordering and
acceptance of a commission to execute a part of the engineering and of the
whether or not positive use of the results of that executed co-engineering. If the
authority relations are not uniform and the instructions not sincere, or if the
instructions are changed during the process of co-engineering then, when the
results of the co-engineering are not used, a feeling of slight disappointment with
the party concerned is easily created. This can lead to a great frustration
especially when, next to the not using of the results of co-engineering, also the
efforts are not financially rewarded, when the co-engineering budget is not
raised and the work has to be done again. That is very often the case if the
relation between the engineering partners is hierarchical and came about on the
basis of commercial agreements. The result of not rightly respecting the
contribution made by the engineering partners in the whole preparation process
is that the disappointed co-engineer after some (failed) attempts will not like to
have himself manoeuvred into a similar situation again, after which the
preparation process loses a specialist and the quality of the preparation could
deteriorate. Over-sensitivity and the not accepting of the contribution of coengineers for the design often occur in a preparation process where the architect
thinks he has to be the pivot of the process, but is not broad-minded enough to
admit that large parts of that preparation process cannot be executed anymore
without the impulses of specialists. The building then is compelled to become
more traditional. It must be a strong architect who can afford the luxury of the
consensus. The current contract methods in the building practice do not lead too
often to an open way of co-engineering. It occurs only with special or complex


buildings or with special, respectively experimental components. There is

hauling about with the work hours that co-engineering demands. With a growing
resentment, the question from the co-engineer is: Is this invested energy worth
its while? Who has to pay for that lost energy? When it is the principal who
requested for engineering, then everything is all right. When it is the co-engineer
himself who, through no fault of his and his influence, becomes the victim of his
subordinate position in the hierarchy of the building process, then this does not
lead to a further stimulation of co-engineering.
Concurrent Engineering is only positive in the building practice when all parties
operate in mutual trust and all openness.
A distinction has to be made here between processes without and with
material innovations. Firstly, processes where innovation in the form of
completely or partly new materials, techniques or logistics have to be developed
for the complete building or for certain components (products), make the
contribution of the co-engineers as specialists necessary. The more usual
processes whereby more or less known materials, techniques and logistics from
past experiences are being used. The innovation process is suitable for coengineering. The usual does logically lead to co-engineering.
In the mega projects of civil engineering in the field of the European infrastructure, the combinations of technical specialism, logistic and liquidity lead to
complete design & build projects, whereby the preparation process is executed
in co-engineering.
In architecture the contract processes are often independent phases
between a preparation process by designers and an executing process by
contractors clusters. The design & build process is hardly under discussion.
Then co-engineering is limited at the most to the architect and his advisers. The
concurrency of this process does not cause to give it a specific name, like coengineering. The non-committedness in this preparation phase by these
advisers erects another barrier of insecurity, which will only be taken away by
the contract. Until the phase of the realization contract the thought behind the
usual building preparation process is the uncommitted assumption and not the
binding contract. This only becomes effective after contract and award. After the
contract more and more is passed on to the taking of design, produce & build
Unfortunately it happens all too often that advisers via the technical and
administrative estimate determination, force the happy sub-contractor to take
over their design responsibilities, whereby they take advantage of their position
of authority. Then the road to design & build contracts is not so far away
anymore. In a design & build process the co-engineer will fully take and accept
his responsibilities for both the design and the execution. In a design & build
situation the co-engineer is a full-valued partner in all fields.
To architects, who still operate from the old-fashioned concept that the
architect is the only one who has the copyright of the design of the building,
comes along with the phenomenon co-engineering a notion that copyright has to
be shared. This certainly applies when it concerns a co-design. Now this
copyright is the biggest obstacle for a positive and stimulating co-operation
between different factors in the design stage, typical to the building practice.


Industrial designers are very down-to-earth in this field: they often and without
scruples contract out a part of the design to a co-designer who has specialized
in that particular field. See the contribution given by graphic designer Professor
Paul Mijksenaar to Dok Product designers at the time of the development of the
shelter pillar of the Trein Taxi (see chapter 11). But the building practice is not
quite that far yet: there rules a somewhat oppressive culture which only seldom
generously invites to participation in the designing process. Co-designing
building technologists do still have to crack some nuts for future co-operations
with architects. Surely afterwards, when all energy is spent, the fight has been
fought and the building has been realized, then the architects memory of the
merits of the contributions of co-engineers, is often amazingly short. It is clear
that, together with the phenomenon co-engineering, also the notion copyright
has to be examined. With a designing building team, consisting of a designing
project architect and designing advisers/specialists, the copyright is divided
among the respectively creatively contributing parties. Not one party can claim
more than it has contributed.
Collaborative engineering is the indication co-operation in engineering
surpassing concurrent engineering in the sense that where concurrent indicates
a simultaneous action, collaborative indicates an active co-operation in action.
Concurrent has a passive connotation, where the different activities are
performed at the same time, but the interaction could be intensified in the
process to collaboration. At different intermediate moments exchange of
information, progress in thinking and engineering can be organized. Often in
design engineering the problems are almost too complex to be solved by one
person. Disorder or chaos seems to rule. A good engineering solution requires
more actors with different specialties, working shoulder by shoulder and
exchanging their growing insights to influence each others insights to attain the
best possible total solution to proceed through the design process with ultimate
efficiency and speed.
There is one drawback to the pro-active approach. It requires more
energy from more people simultaneously. Much of this energy will be in vain as
the insights from other actors in this game will at the intermediate moments of
common brainstorm give improved solutions which makes much of the individual
energy impulses redundant. Much individual effort has been put in the game in
vain. Smart engineers wait until the moment that other engineers take the lead
and run harder so that they can follow. The lazy, passive attitude seems to pay
off in individual terms. Of course in general terms of the game as a whole and of
efficient results, collaborative engineering is a better concept. And collaborative
engineering is unavoidable in case of Free Form Design projects, where the
constituent parts of the building and the free form character requires an open
and trustful collaboration between the architect and free form specialists from
the first design phases onwards.




For building engineers goes: designing is an efficient process from the making of
decisions to an original, ingenious, functional, material and spatial solution for a
construction problem, from the initiative to the execution (and in future including
maintenance and demounting).
Methodology is the theory of the methods which are used in a
process; building design methodology applies to the theory of the methods
for the building design process.
Methodics is a set of methods somebody operates with; in this
case the set of methods used by a building engineer or a number of
colleagues during the building design process.
Method is a fixed and well-described procedure. A building
design method is used during building designing. There are methods which
cover the complete process: overall methods and partial methods, only
applicable to specific parts of the design process. Most methods are
specifically meant for a part of the design process. An overall method can
contain more part-methods.

Fig.75: Different modes of use of methodology by architects.

The word method is derived from the Greek and means the way between,
between the beginning and the end of a reasoning, between starting-point and
objective. In linguistic usage it became understood by: the way, an absolute
datum. That is somewhat inherent to the fact that a method is a fixed and welldescribed procedure. Therefore an individual method also has to be welldescribed, in order to not receive the predicate arbitrary.
So, a personal interpretation of a design method always remains possible.
For this goes the restriction that this must meet the general demands of the


methodology; that the different steps must be explicitly formulated and that the
different steps or activities are open to communication, control and verification
by outsiders.
Although research methods are established the opinions on designing
methods are divided. There are two extremes to be distinguished: the intuitive
and the methodical design approach. The routine design approach is
unconsciously methodical and lies in-between both extremes. In practice design
processes often occur with an approach which shows an interchange, a
combination or an integration of these three design approaches. In general, the
practice shows that a design approach whereby some parts are done intuitively,
other parts methodically and yet again other parts routine-wise, can lead to good
design results.
Successful design processes are combinations of intuitive, routine and
methodical design approaches.


For the sake of clarity we will first look into the two extremes of intuition and
method separately. On the one hand we find designers who show designs as
being a very intuitive matter with a very frequent iteration of thinking up, framing
and evaluating (which, as such, is a method of course). On these designers the
discussion of design methods is wasted. They say that designing as a process is
not as interesting as the plan or the design itself, the result of it. Mainly the
results are validated. And when the design is good, why then distinguish the
creative process in pre-set pieces and put that into words? Yet, the question is if
architecture students with a more systematic design approach could learn to
make a better plan with one or more design methods or a plan with higher
quality parts. It is good for students to learn how to think and design in a
methodical way and have these skills gradually evolve in design processes in
their studies from unconscious to a self-routine.
So doing they can, via the acquired routine, handle repeating design
orders in an efficient way after their studies. Such a routine approach seems
intuitive, but is in fact based upon invisible and unsaid methodical work, whereby
these methodics have only become a lubricant which unconsciously takes care
of the smooth running of the invisible design process. This routine design
approach lies in-between the intuitive and the methodical approach but can, as
opposed to the actual intuitive approach, be made cognitive when a design
process has to be gone through with non-routine characteristics whereby just
methodical work is efficiently enough.
However, it is possible that an explicit design method with serial and
parallel steps, and their feedbacks, puts off many inflexible intuitive designers.
They feel limited in their spiritual freedom and think that the handling of (too
much) systematics or methodics hinder their creativity. For artist-designers like
the Czech-Dutch designer Boris Sipek this could very well be so. They are
concerned with a possible loss of artistic and creative freedom. This creative
design-kernel has to remain, in methodical designing as well.


On the other hand one could say that intuitive designing or designing by the feel
of it is uncontrollable and cannot be explained. It is a design approach which to
engineers with smaller design commissions can very well lead to an acceptable
and surprising result, but which offers no possibilities for design orders with nonroutine characteristics, like those with a greater complexity.
For lack of an effective thinking process the iteration and the number of
cycles of trial and errors becomes greater. The process consists of trying,
evaluating and trying again, until a lucky thought comes up which makes the
strange taste of swimming around in circles go away.
With intuitive designing there is usually a focus mainly on the appreciation
of the result. The most important aspect therefore is then: the making of a plan
or a design. Usually with the reviewing, the reviewing criteria are subjective and
intuitive as well. This intuitive design attitude of designers is certainly stimulated
by the course of events with the reviewing of design competitions, where the
judging is done especially rapid, global, intuitive and subjective. To a reviewing
like that the presence of a more profound design process makes little difference.
It is different, however, with the measuring and judging of the performance of the
eventually built design in larger design and engineering teams Explicitness and
communication rule. In other cases even the most experienced advices or
developments cannot bend a bad design (or design aspect) into a good one.


Thinking and working systematically and methodically can improve this to an

extent. The self-directedness or conceitedness of the designer does have to
make space for directed, fixed and well-described methodics. The other way
around, next to the methodics there has to be kept a clear space in the design
process for the individual creative ideas which make design results often so selfwilled and attractive. Methodics must never suffocate originality. On the other
hand, methodical designers in their searching process of designing try to apply
systematics and methodics which, from previous experiences, give them a
greater security for success. It is not so much the kernel of designing, the
brainwave, where the looseness of thinking and creativity plays a grand part,
which can be improved under the influence of a design method. But to be
treated methodically is the introduction up to the growing towards that creative
moment (because with that one is sure to be busy with the right design
commission) and the following complete working-out (of materializing, detailing
and evaluation). Every human being has certain systematics built in their ways
of thinking and acting, usually unconscious, but sometimes by force explicit and
extrovert. Thanks to the fact that these systematics determine our actions
unconsciously, we have more energy to spend on outstanding and decisive
moments in these actions. For students goes that the acquiring of designing as a
skill can give more insight when this is done systematically and in a discussible
manner. For the young students methodology will bring about a faster learning
process because it has been made discussable. That communicative function
also belongs to the methodical designing and its written reaction on it later: it
advances the identification of parties around the designer with the interim and


definite process result and makes a sensible and effective reaction possible. A
young designer will be insecure whether he is capable of accomplishing a
design. Intuitively trying has the advantage of aim and shoot and it will miss
often at first, and hopefully it will gradually become a hit. When an inexperienced
designer has made a design strategy with his own methods and has practiced
this a number of times, gradually a relaxation in his head comes about. Only
then there will be a solution for working methodically. But at certain points in the
methodical design there has to be room for the spark, the intuitive design


The described view on designing and developing originates from my

experiences with the designing of building components, as well as with the
designing of buildings. Small, repetitive or surveyable designs are often fed by
unconscious knowledge and skill in an acquired routine of previous design
processes, whether or not they were realized. Routine designing as a subject is
not interesting, compared to the design process where the various steps and
activities are done consciously and methodically. It takes place mainly in the
same manner, only many times faster and undescribed. But it cannot be denied
that routine designing also has its origin in the methodically and extrovertly
made design process, which by repetition and routine can be carried through at
a much higher speed. However, routine designing becomes a problem to the
building engineer when the two qualities of the design ingenious and original
disappear. The form of the design process, however, is isolated from the
ingenious and original contents. For design orders with new challenges which
rise above the routine, the use of design methods is very sensible. Especially
when one or more of the following non-routine characteristics in the design
problem are valid, it is extremely sensible to use a method which can be
controlled and which offers the possibility for communication on the design
process and the design itself:
With new design problems the newness can indeed be found in one of the
following characteristics, but what is meant is a design order which is totally new
to the designer, or outside his experience (to a building designer, for instance, a
ships interior), or before his experience (to a student, who is yet inexperienced in
the field of designing). Students have to learn methodical designing before they
give it a place in their own design approach: intuitive, routine-wise, methodical
and yet typical, diversity, combined or integrated, whereby intuition and method
chase each other to come to better results.
With advanced design problems it is often sensible to divide the
complete process systematically into different parts and have these parts


simultaneously developed: concurrent (or better:) collaborative designing &

engineering, whereby the necessary methodical approach, resulting in 3D
models, drawings and reports, makes the mutual communication about the
different interim results possible. The part-designs are afterwards being
integrated into a complete design.
With complex design problems with a high level of complexity by mutual
influence of aspects, these orders are often decomposed into smaller parts or
aspects, each of them being better surveyable and solvable, after which an recomposition is made of the part-designs into a complete design. The integration
is more complex than the assembly. This working sequence is also a method in
itself. The methodical designing can completely take place in an all-enfolding
schedule, like in the Organogram, described in chapter 9 and subsequent, but it
can also manifest itself very simply as an ad-hoc agglomerate of smaller partial
methods. The latter holds that in certain phases of the design process a scheme
in abstraction is made of various activities to be undertaken, whereby especially
the sequence and the influence is then graphically described. Very often these
are small scribbles, immediately understood by spatially and visually thinking
designers. As a means of communication, visual schemes are very effective in
our profession.
With experimental design problems there is a high degree of technical
uncertainty. The designer must operate carefully in order to not overlook an
important matter and so reduce the chance that the final design does not meet
all essential requirements. Experimental design orders are characterized by
great contributions from research. In the experimental design process the
verification is important for communication and determination.
The ultra-fast or fast-track design process has to be worked through in an
incomparably short time. There will be no time for studying extensive
alternatives. A course of solution has to be chosen by feel or experience. It is a
challenge to choose a surprising course, and not a well-known one which will
lead to an expected result. The complete design process, which in other cases
can be worked through step by step, has now to be worked through in less time.
The skill to make the right decisions is brought up from previous choices
(experience) and not to work through an impoverished design process with less
design variants and therefore a smaller chance on a good result (creativity).
Often this type of design process also leads to concurrent engineering
with the danger that cause and effect do not connect anymore: sometimes there
is already an effect while the cause has yet to be developed. Then the designers
find themselves all mixed up: they confuse result with objective while in the
mean time the evaluation criteria are silently shifted. A high level of alertness
and art of navigation is required. The design method supplies the basic
framework for internal communication.
Permanent Quality Assurance in the design process
Parallel to the experiences of the car industry, in the building practice the notion
also slowly dawned that to notice and remove the already made mistakes only
with the final control (= product assessment), is not very efficient. Especially
when mistakes are punished by the consumer, avoiding mistakes is of the


greatest importance. A car has to be, in principle, a zero-defect product, which

is achieved by a continuous quality control in the entire production process and
not just by testing periods after production. As a backing for intuitive building
designers goes that the assessment criteria are not unanimous to the consumer.
Moreover, defects in the building practice are not so often critical and
measurable (with the exceptions of leakage and draught, although they are
looked upon as execution mistakes, not often as designing mistakes). And there
can always, till in the usage phase, be tinkered at the design by technical
applications which can lead to a better building performance. A bold example of
this is the sunshade & daylight regulation system to be applied after completion
in the clear glass faades of the office building of the Netherlands Architecture
Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam. All parties involved knew about the greenhouse
problem of these faades. In practice it is actually inoperable, but even for this
very important architectonical monument there yet was no budget for shading
being cleared during the building process. It is an example of the lowtechnological characteristic of the building industry, as opposed to a more
industrial aspiration. At the same time the lack of clear assessment criteria leads
to a continuance of an essentially wrong procedure: by the grace of ignorance,
minority or matchlessness the design result has to be accepted as it is
presented. It does not lead to a higher quality in the view of the consumer. The
car industry has formulated a first answer to this in the Sixties with the TQA
(Total Quality Assurance) and points to the process being controlled
continuously, as opposed to the only and too late final control of the assembled
car during a test-run.
This process quality control is the basis of the notion quality guarantee
for the material realization of buildings and building components by the industry.
The design quality is achieved by, first of all, communicable design processes.
In the routine of design it could be followed by design quality manuals,
eventually possibly leading to certification. If the minimum criteria are
determined, control is indeed also possible. But what to do when the quality
criteria are not, or hardly determined? To avoid that the designer fools himself as
well as his client and the consumer by great uncertainty as framed in the notion
black box design and to achieve that he looks upon his design methods as a
glass box design, there has to be at the start of every design process, among
other things, the fixing of the evaluation criteria of the design result. After this the
quality of the design can be assessed or measured continuously. This also can
be intervened when insufficient interim results are noticed. This mechanism of
feedback also proves to be a good help with the attending of graduates during
their design processes.


In fact, methodical designing is strongly coupled to logical thinking. Common

sense leads the design process. Systematically designing leads, by the effect of
repetition of a manner of thinking from experience, to a desired result.
Methodical thinking or designing adds a sequence to this, a steps-plan which
leads to a purpose in an efficient way. Methodical designing means down-to-


earth and sound reasoning, getting issues in a row and weigh them, put one foot
after the other and not in front, whenever this is not logical. To come to a
solution which is better than an intuitive, non-explicable solution. Reasoned
presentation of a design holds that an explanation is given with the design as a
result. Yet, this does not guarantee that the reasoning came forth during a
methodical design process. Sometimes it is a smoothing argumentation
afterwards on why the plan is the only acceptable, while the followed design
process was all but intuitive.
Clients pay architects to have them design a good building. To draw a
new building is not that difficult. To make an original design can also be done
intuitively. Then in the explanatory presentation, the client is primarily flattered
with some startling characteristics of the design, while other aspects which
should have been considered in the design, are unconsciously or consciously
not mentioned to not frustrate the brilliant design. And from that is then a story
made, which the client is expected hopefully to swallow. In essence it then
remains an unbalanced design which is only in some aspects original, but as a
result of a complete process is not original at all and therefore insufficient.
Competitions are joined to make a winning design. At the presentation of a
competition design, the designing process is therefore primarily less important
than the result. Besides, because of the relative arbitrariness of the judging, the
energy is specifically aimed at the presentation of the design.
This intuition by which the building designing seems to be soaked
nowadays, is absolutely necessary to make a driven design but a successful
design will always consist of an interference, a combination or an integration of
intuitive, routine and methodical designing. The inclination towards intuition as a
guiding principle for designing is quite understandable in view of the experiences
of the modern design generation which finds itself more and more surrounded by
super systematically elaborating computers. Intuition is the only characteristic
computers do not possess; understandably designers focus on that. But it is the
interaction between mind and hands, bedded in the motivation and reverie of the
heart which leads to a good design. From a television interview at the
Bouwbeurs 96, the author gladly quotes a sentence: My students must dream
with their hearts, think with their heads and work with their hands to design
good building components. Methodical interaction of heart, head and hands
must lead to a synergy in the design process and to a higher quality of the
resulting design.
Especially when, in the near future, the step to scientific designing and
designing at an acceptable scientific level has to be taken, the design process
must not be founded on a situation of authority in a design process, on
traditional opinions from an elder generation or on personal intuition. These
three situations lead to working methods which are extremely subjective and
cannot be discussed on a basis of rational criticism. In design processes where
the involvement of a great number of professionals in various functions is
required, the rational criticism is a collective means of communication.


Fig.76: Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi), Rotterdam. Architect: Jo Coenen.

Fig. 77: Close-up of a semi-mechanical/semichemical glass node.


Fig. 78: Faade of the NAi.



With the integral approach the three activities

Designing, Developing and Researching
have to be looked upon as un inseparable
synergetic unity to come to a good design with
the qualification which has already been
mentioned in the first chapter.
Building designing is an efficient process
of making decisions through a functional
concept to an original, material and spatially
elaborated solution of a building problem, from
initiative to execution.
The designing supplies the primary
power in the integral Design & Research &
Development process, but cannot be realized
without developing and researching.


In Architecture there are two essentially

different conceptions of the position of the
the complete
preparation phase:
The classical conceptual conception: only the
making of the design concept is designing,
the remainder is the afterwards developing
and engineering.
The modern integral conception: everything
between initiative and production is designed
from the highest (town planning) till the
lowest (technology of bolts and nuts) scale
level and from the very first sketch up to and
including the final production drawings and
execution drawings.

Fig.79: Preferences in
contracts for architects.


From the conceptual point of view the description of building designing reads:
Building designing is the collection of thought and visualization activities,
belonging to the efficient search for an original and effective concept solution to
a problem in the built environment.
Developing starts with the design concept and ends when production
starts. Developing is the collection of thought and producing activities,
belonging to the further elaboration of the design concept to the phase of the
final material production. This is the current Dutch perception description as it is


laid down in the Dutch dictionary Van Dale and followed by many architects. We
could speak of Design & Development. In this development the making of the
Preliminary Design and the Final Design is comprehended.
Research also comprehends investigation and study. Research is directed
to new scientific results, investigations are directed to unveiling data, yet
unknown by the investigators. Study is a more modest term to concentrate an
unknown aspect to be made known.
Research is being done to complement lacking knowledge. Research is
executed spread over the whole process. Research is followed by developing to
make the result of the research workable in practice. We then speak of research
& development. If the problem is not new and neither are the material means,
then the repetition character is very great and little creativity is needed.
Professor Taeke de Jong writes on designing research and on purposeful and
means-directed research [13]. Professor De Jong is a town planning researcher
and philosophizes on the manner and the benefit of research by building
engineers. His writings are greatly theorizing and difficult to access for
newcomers who are used to the practical side of the reality, but interesting by
his vision. They are strongly recommended for further studies. Taeke de Jong
says in a lecture [11] One does not have to ask a university graduate for advice
when one has a known problem for which there are known solutions. For with
this purpose specialists are being educated who make it their profession to work
with these known solutions. This reference to technical HBO education, by the
way, does not imply that graduates (and in our case architects) never do this
kind of work, but in essence it is more engineering than designing. The
consequences of this train of thought of designing being solely a conceptual
occupation, is that to an architect the designing of the spatial plan stops when
the concept has been drawn or rendered and when all principle decisions have
been taken, including the details and all materials and finishing touches. In the
design process there are decisions to be made on functional, spatial, building
technical, aesthetical and economical areas. It may be good that the architect
bides some of the design decisions or postpones them until a later phase of the
preparation process or even until the realization process. The sole-designing
concept distinguishes in the preparation process the conceptual designers from
technologists who take care of the further development, working drawings and
shop drawings and the like.


Opposite the conceptual model is the integral conception of designing, where all
activities, from the idea up to the actual production are ranged in the
denominator designing. In this conception integral designing is original,
intellectual and creative head-work, stimulated and made transferable to the
designer himself and others by a rendering in the shape of sketching, drawing,
modelling and so on in an iterate process. Designing is finding an original and
effective, materialized, elaborated solution for a new problem. Originality needs
creativity and ingenuity. Elaboration demands a solid control of the techniques.
Designing concerns concepts, fed by knowledge and insight of the related


available means and ordering principles.

Designing connects many facets in a global
manner. Designing is a cyclic and iterative
process, of trial and error, of trying and
evaluating. A part of the designing is the
elaboration and optimalization of an idea to a
higher level of reality. Developing is, as it were,
control and elaboration of the design idea and
takes place in many phases within the complete
design process. Research as well has integrally
included its stimulating share in the process. In
the integral model, the concept as well as the
materialization is completely taken care of under
the denominator designing. In the integral process
designing, developing and research are an
indissolubly synergetic unity under the flag of
designing. One of the most important kernel
notions is original. On the original aspect
Professor Taeke de Jong [11] writes: the
designers duty is to explore improbable
possibilities, especially when the most probable
development is not wished for. These possibilities
cannot be predicted by their improbability, one
has to design them. The academic design has to
bring to light essentially new possibilities
(discovery or invention). The design criteria are
mostly kept hovering and the design process is
looked upon by architects as being hard to
describe. This attitude comes from cultural
narrow-mindedness and a desire for mystification.
Fig.80: Relationship
It is better to make the design process explicit out
designing, developing and
of the excess of intuition with which it is now
research in architecture.
surrounded. Besides, the Industrial Design
Professor Jan Buys [2] tries to accomplish the
exact opposite: in the cool scientific design process of industrial designers, he
finds also that intuition, emotion, passion and creativity are needed. We hope to
meet each other somewhere in the middle. Designing is a route with a strong
technical character. Nevertheless for a good result in the occurring problems in
the development phase, a great amount of creativity and sudden jumps of
thought is required. An architect spends perhaps only 5% of his time on actually
creative designing, the rest is engineering, developing discussions and
consultations about problems, proposals and evaluations of solutions.
Nevertheless, the architect derives his status with regards to other parties in the
building process, from the fact that he is creative and original and capable of
laying down new concepts for buildings on the white sheet.




Just like designing can be considered either as the

conceptual partial process, or as the integral total process,
so there are two current meanings in linguistic usage with
respect to developing. To distinguish them clearly we could
speak of a partial meaning and the total or mantle meaning:
Partial meaning: developing is a partial process, wherein a
concept is further elaborated to a stage of maturity;
developing follows designing and ends with producing.
Mantle-meaning: Developing is the enveloping industrial
process in a company inside of which the product is
For the benefit of the scientific field of Product Development
these meanings must be distinguished and so be placed in
the building industry.

Fig.81: Development
of design is

Developing as engineering and elaborating

First of all the partial or part-meaning. The notion developing has a very clear
meaning in Dutch. Developing stands for bringing something to maturity. Van
Dale speaks of to come to full growth, to grow up. When there is an existing
situation somewhere from that position to the following position development
takes place. A new design concept can then be further developed into a final
design and that again to a contract and production form. In Van Dales meaning
that route between concept and production would be called development,
respectively the three steps: three partial developments after another.
Developing as a mantle activity
The mantle meaning of developing is derived from Industrial Designing. The
complete enterprise process, which enfolds the design process like a mantle, is
looked upon as product development from the companys perspective, while the
actual product directed part is called product designing. This distinction
between the two meanings of developing is important, because in various
specialisms the relations between designing and developing are totally different.
Some specialisms work with simple concepts which need a long elaboration,
fortified by much analysis and research, like for instance the designing of a
bridge. The design concept of this is relatively simple, but because of the
interests of optimalization in the constructive concept and the use of material,
the attention in the materialization phase has fully moved to development in the
form of calculations and research, and hardly to the design concept.
With the input of labour hours it will show, also quantitatively, that the
designing of a bridge is a very limited activity, not to mention the quality of the
realized design. Sometimes this activity can be expanded, like the Dutch
architect Ben van Berkel did with the Erasmusbrug in Rotterdam. From the
bridges Santiago Calatrava has designed and realized in Europe in the last
decade, it can be derived that a much longer design traject than usual lies at the
root, concerning structural scheme, composition, use of material and detailing.


Fig. 82/83: Erasmus Bridge, Rotterdam. Design: Ben van Berkel & Gemeentewerken.


In building processes in general the number of design aspects is greater, the

number of requirements with clashing interests as well. The decision process to
go from initiative to concept is more complex for the architectural designer and
the design traject is longer. Therefore an architectural designer will look at a
longer design traject and a shorter development traject.
In construction the total notion on developing is also current, although
this gives cause to confusion. A building project is developed by a project
developer. That is a total enterprising activity, starting on a planning/ townplanning level, ending with the putting into use and the selling or letting out of
the buildings. In some cases the interference of the developer goes even further,
namely up to the usage of the building, like for instance with the new generation
of Dutch prisons, where the project developer not only has the building realized
but also has taken over the functional management and settles accounts on the
basis of natural days expenses per prisoner. In the future the care will also
stretch over the anticipation concerning dismantling, demolition and re-use of the
building itself. The building developer will be paid in daily costs in which the
building costs are integrated. The builder is paid in overnight stays, so to speak,
per prisoner. In the field of building components a tendency like that is also
perceptible: the faade builder is asked more and more often to remain
responsible for the maintenance of the faade. In the future upgrading and
possibly dismantling, including environment-friendly recycling will become his
tasks as well. It happens already in the consumers industry. In such cases the
term product development will have to be replaced by product development,
operation and maintenance. In that complete process of project development
the designing of the materially built environment at different levels is only a part
and it is the object directed part. The market directed part and the producer
directed parts are no parts of it (although students have to acknowledge and
know, in order to be able of designing appropriately).
The complete development processes from idea to realization on each of the
above-mentioned levels (macro, meso and micro) of town planning, architecture
and building technology could be called respectively:
Location development
Object development
Product development
A sensible distinction in view of the conceptional determination for industrial
designing would be to name the process of the complete project enterprise:
project development, while all technical activities which are connected with the
preparation of the to be built spatial environment, could be viewed as object
designs or building designs. The phase of the initiative stands aside the
designing, with projects as well as with producers, inside as well as outside the
building practice. Nevertheless a sensible architect will try to hook on already in
the initiation phase.




There was a totally different way of working in the traditional architects office.
The ranks organization in the office was such that certain activities were not
allowed to be adorned with the predicate designing: those were elaborations of
the architects design scribbles. A building draughtsman elaborated the design of
the architect, but could not be called a designer in the opinion of the architect.
He worked out the design until it was ready to be built. He took care of the
design to be elaborated further, under the instructions included in that design to
a higher level of internal attuning of the components and of accuracy. For the
sake of simplicity, let us assume that the traditional architects office mainly
worked with traditional building materials and techniques.
Some years ago the Dutch government introduced the new Bouwbesluit
or Building Regulations. Through that more flexibility is given to market parties
to make alternative subscriptions at more global invitations. The possibilities for
the subscribing party (= the contractor and his sub-contractors/producers) are
thus wide open to fill in parts of the building design in accord with their own
experiences. So from the calling party (= client, architect, advisors) a specific
part of the materialization of the design is taken. With that also appears the
phenomenon of subscribing parties, having busied themselves with the domain
on which the architect used to hold the reign supreme: designing. So, a part of
the designing is done by the designers at the side of the contractors, among
them the product designers. An obvious reason to view the complete design
process as an integral one and also to reckon the activities of product designers
to this.
The great turn came with the arrival of new techniques and materials, by
which the process of designing a much longer demand on the preparation
traject. Designing with prefabricated building components is, in general, more
complicated than designing with traditional materials. Besides, more and more
building draughtsmen are being replaced by young building engineers who are
trained to design and will keep doing that even till the shopdrawing phase.
The modern architects office has a project architect for every project who,
from start to end of the preparation process (and often also during the
coordination of the execution), conducts the project as the co-ordinating
designer. Opposite to this there was the traditional architects office where a
horizontal labour division was made, based on specialism and capacity. There
was one person who made the design concept, another one to calculate it, a
third worked it out in big surveyable drawings and a fourth made only the
working drawings. In essence we found with this the same organization as in the
mass production of, for instance, cars. There the individual successive persons
are replaced by bigger departments, all of which having a different objective and
different competencies. The great disadvantage of the horizontal structure of this
traditional process is that the separations between the departments are barriers
which, next to the loss of information, also show an opinionated autonomy and
through that are causing high-handed changes.
In the current building process where all sorts of industrially manufactured
building products and prefabricated building components are being brought into


action, the traditional architect does not exactly know anymore how the modern
production processes of those components proceed and he has more trouble
making a balanced and optimum detailed design of the components of his
building. Therefore, he often has to leave the engineering of many components
of his building to the engineering departments of the producers, who have to
transpose the architects drawings and descriptions from the tender documents
into well considered materials, produceable principle details and production and
installation drawings.
This way of working is further reinforced by the change over from product
approach to performance approach. The architect describes the spatial building
and the desired performance on a component level, while the makers
(contractors and producers) within this desired performances can give a material
answer and even alternatives. Is this engineering covered by the predominator
designing (because numerous decisions have to be made in often clashing
fields of interests), or is this covered by the predominator developing, so that
the designing remains reserved for the architect? Or do we have to distinguish
the level of the building and that of the components?
The architect designs the building and describes the performances which
the component parts must meet, while the component designer designs the
individual components. The engineering by component designers on behalf of
the producers of a definite design or estimate drawings by an architect belong to
the domain of the designing. In Building Technology we even speak of product
architects to indicate high aspirations and capacities. In England the designing
of components would be called component design, whether it is executed at the
high-tech architects offices, or at the producers offices.
Therefore the conclusion is: if in the building practice designing is
understood by the efficiently making of decisions concerning the geometry, the
situating and the appropriate materializing of buildings to an original and creative
result, then the entire preparation process between initiative and execution is
covered by the predominator designing, whether or not this work is done by the
architect, technical architects or by component architects in his employ or
component designers employed by contractors and producers. Designing knows
different levels which have to be gone through successively, which influence
each other interactively and iteratively lead to the totality of a complete design:
town-planning, environmental designing, functional designing, spatial designing,
materializing designing. After that follows designing at building part and
component level: the functional, technical, material and product conscious
designing, up to and including sometimes the designing at a material conscious
(and sustainable) level. The engineering of the building concept by building
draughtsmen, or the component concepts by mechanical draughtsmen belongs
to the design process as well, as a supporting activity, as engineering. Students
must come to an understanding for the design concept, as well as for the final
design materialization: both are fundamental for the success of the design.




For designing and developing knowledge and experience or skills are needed,
as well as insight and sometimes vision, as a background for the approach of
the actual problem. This background is in existence and was once conquered
and stored up by predecessors of the engineer or by the engineer himself
(designer / developer / researcher) in a previous route. The knowledge for this
has been laid down in the current state of technology. Research is the acquiring
of lacking knowledge and insight in the possibilities of technology.
Architecture is, scientifically speaking, more coloured by the complex and
practical problems than by the gathering of fundamental knowledge. Few new
fundamental knowledge is being generated, anyway not in the technological
field. There is much research invested in the field of architectural theory. For
fundamental research in technology reference is made to the effects and
outcome of nano-technology when it comes to applications in the built
environment. That is why the research, directed at knowledge gaps, is greatly
focused on a great number of complex practical aspects which influence each
other. Fundamental research would also be possible, but since the practically
directed design tradition is stronger than the research tradition and because the
specialism is very closely connected with the practice, little fundamental (nonpurpose directed) research takes place. This, by the way, is gradually changing.
The majority of the research in architecture is purpose-directed and so is said to
be applied. It only makes sense to go and do further specialist research when
the foundation under the broad wise knowledge, known as the current state of
technology, has been placed or is already present.
One does not research without further ado. First and foremost one gauges
the state of technology (level it up), then keeps up with the times and thereupon
the state of technology can actually be levelled up by research from the faculty.
This certainly goes for scientific fields which nowhere in practice are instigated
as a totality (for instance by a branch cooperation). Because of the low threshold
and the high degree of open competition in the building industry, in practice little
energy is spent on research. Jacobs et al [12] concluded in 1992 that the
building sector is no innovative puller, but technologically a following (the leader)
sector. The building industry may experience few external tickles by technology
development, there are also hardly any internal tickles.
On the contrary: within great parts of the industry branch prevails a high
degree of state-of-the-art and technological conservative thinking. New
inventions find their way into the sector only slowly. However, Dutch designers,
builders, suppliers and installation workers in general proved to be capable of
adjusting rapidly to the technical demands of the current times by means of
imitation and the adoption of what is offered from outside. Imitation: say farewell
to our good intentions and our hopes for drive. Annually the building industry
does not spend more than a humiliating 0,5% on research and development.
That is to say, if the project-wise design and advising work of architects,
structural designers and advisers is not seen as R & D. It could also be looked
upon as object-directed research. But that research does not contributes to
build a clear body of knowledge because of the individual character of the


project and of the architect who, in general, does not aim for knowledge and
insight after compiling to be carried over to others and, by so doing, to contribute
to the state of technology.
In architects offices the allotment in proportionally labour days for
research is essentially more, but the lack of experience, equipment and
preparation with most of the (former) professional groups in the research, is
guilty of the not very spectacular and stimulating results of the research at
architects offices. There must be pulled strongly before the research in the field
of the designing disciplines of architecture has risen to an acceptable level. A
general validity is that, when there are omissions in the knowledge or if the
knowledge has to be levelled up, it is sensible to do closer investigating
research, provided there is a sufficient need for it. But it is not just about
knowledge. The skill to deal with that knowledge, to apply this knowledge by
means of all sorts of ordering principles and the resulting insight of how to deal
with a problem with this knowledge and skill, can also be a subject-matter for
research. It is therefore very much in line with the observations in this
monograph to stimulate that architectural education will accept the synergy
between Designing, Developing & Research as a newness generation process,
the process wherein a design is achieved. Hence, designing as a result of
science must be stimulated to be acknowledged as a characteristic architectural
approach to come to levelling up the knowledge of, skill and insight in and
possibly the vision on the state of technology. Building engineers should make
more use of the possibility to take their doctors degree on scientific designing.
The authors thesis [16] Architecture in Space Structures from 1989 is
considered an example.
When art historians can get their doctors degree on the oeuvres of an
architect or on one ore some designs of an architect, then why would building
engineers not be able to get their degree, instead of on research, on designing
where in the design process as well as in the resulting design sufficient newness
is brought in to meet the high scientific doctoral degree regulations? In this way
Architecture can perhaps develop an entirely new and characteristic research
domain. Next to that, in architecture remains, of course, always the possibility to
explore existing designs (of others, and likely deceased colleagues) and take
ones doctors degree on this. But for the development of a new vocabulary in
the field of Building Technology, these studies are seldom interesting.


Fundamental research can be viewed as an independent occupation, as is the

case at common universities. At Technological Universities only applied
research is carried out in the view of the general universities. In Architecture,
being a designing and building group of scientific professionals, one looks upon
research to serve the designing: research is service to design. Research in an
architectonical faculty is for the greatest part a design supporting occupation in
the end. Research needs development to come to engineering and application.
The design supporting research itself is divided over many specific activities of
the design process. Everywhere a proper concentration, independency or


distance and newness is exercised to come to new knowledge and insight,

research is in place. Designing is positioning, research is asking questions. In
essence, the following step after the positioning or after a design synthesis is
that one wonders if the positioning is just. By that is shown that designing and
research are so tightly coupled at this intimate level that a division on that level
is not sensible, without losing the fruits of synergy. A designer who does not
wonder if the designing act he performed is the best, is not a good designer but
a shot at random, unless he is a genius which is seldom the case. Even the
designs of Renzo Piano attest to an intensive synergy of designing, developing
and research, where on all of the three activities a great deal of energy is spent.
Just like designing is followed by the developing or engineering of the
design, one could say that research consists of the elucidation of the problems,
the objectives, the strategy, the evaluation criteria and the conceptual part of the
research, while a great deal of the research consists of the further engineering
or developing. So, research development exists as well (next to the abovedescribed design development). Usually research concentrates upon one single
aspect or a small number of aspects which are under discussion in the design
and development process. The researcher reduces his pupils, concentrates
himself on the aspect. The designer, on the other hand, has to connect all
aspects broad-wise if there has to be a balanced design. The ideal still leads to
the same universal breadth like that of the best artists from the Renaissance.
The designer works broad-wise, the researcher in the depths; the developer
broad-wise as well as in depth, but less wide than the designer and less deep
than the researcher. In both cases the developer gives the entrance to the
practice of application and realization, having to bear in mind the interests of the
producing company. Research can be focused on material / technical and
immaterial / philosophical matters and it can also explore the methods of
research. It can be directed at very practical subject-matters, but it can also
philosophize on the means with which designing is done and on the effects
which are achieved with realized designs. When the state of technology in
architecture is a mixture of immaterial and material matters, it seems logical for
this mixture to be carried through to designing as research.



In the obligatory programme of study of the Master program Building Technology

at TU Delft a series of study modules is incorporated which are a literal
illustration of the integral approach to the process of Designing, Developing and
Research. The series can be characterized by the titles: Concept, Prototype
and Laboratory. In these modules in principle a design concept is made,
respectively a prototype according to that concept and finally the testing and
feedback of the produced prototype, manufactured in the laboratory is performed.
With that an entire process cycle of designing, developing and research is ran
through. During his graduation the student can, if required, in fact run through the
same sequence on a free subject-matter. This description follows the publication
on Building Technology by Professor Jan Brouwer et al [26].


Fig. 84: Scale 1:5 prototype of the Maison dArtiste a design of Theo van Doesburg & Cor van
Eesteren (1923). Reconstruction and prototype production by 3 year students of the Delft University
of Technology.

The concept
Characteristics and application possibilities of materials are centremost. Coming
up for discussion are singular materials and structures of various materials.
Next to some insight in the physical and chemical characteristics the emphasis
is put on gaining insight in the essential potencies of materials like strength,
rigidity, processing techniques and the environmental aspects. The module
knows three separate, small design exercises. The first exercise consists of the,
directly in cardboard, designing and materializing of a chair with as few material
wastage as possible and simple means of connection. The second exercise
consists of the designing of a scenario for a faade fragment. Each student
makes a scenario for an industrially manufactured faade fragment. This
scenario goes from achievement requirements, via the conceptual idea to a
materialized design, where the characteristic details are engineered on a scale
of 1:20 and 1:5. The third exercise is dedicated to a small but complete object,
like a light-weight spatial transmitter capsule which becomes connected to an
imaginary, but existing embassy building. This capsule is to be produced in a
small series and has to be suited to divergent climates. The attention with this
exercise is therefore directed at serial production and at performances of the
enveloping skin to be considered as a separation between interior and exterior
all round the communicational function of the capsule.


The prototype
Goal is the developing of a building component on the basis of a limited list of
choices (aluminium faades, frameless glass faades, staircases, office units
and such) or based on a previous design of the student. During the module a
marketing study is done to see if the product concept offers a sufficient answer
to an existing or a future question. With the given product function and the
chosen kinds of materials the influence is studied of the respectively production
techniques, the mechanical handling at the manufacturing of elements, the
assembling into bigger components and the mounting of components into
building parts in a building. If applicable, foreign techniques from outside the
building industry are examined and introduced into the building practice. All
production and assembly actions are involved in the developing process. A
series of practices is ran through of shop drawings, metal-working: welding,
fitting, machining, plate bending and folding and assembling of elements into
components. Of all the produced sets of work-drawings of each scenario, onethird up to a quarter becomes selected to be materialized. In each group of
students a play of roles is performed: designer, contractor, producer, calculator,
purchaser. In these groups with real materials and on an actual scale, usually 2 x
2 metres, a prototype as a product fragment is produced. With this the student
gets an image of the mutual influence of designing and prototype. The process
of product developing is visualized. Material, production methods, technical
systems and applications are important here, so is the cost price calculation and
the logistics of manufacturing and distribution. Next to this, also the relation
between the artistic design of the component and the architectonical design of
the building is represented.

Fig. 85: Prototype for a continuous double faade (even with opened windows at the Laboratory of
Product Development, TU Delft.


Fig. 86/87: Complicated, completed but inadequate cladding prototype for the Provincial Floriade
Pavilion by students of TU Delft.

The laboratory
In principle, it is the intention to submit the produced prototype to various
scientific examinations. However, many designs are exceptional and can only
with difficulty be build in in the test frames. In such cases a more normalized
prototype is used as subject-matter of study and the original prototype is
compared with that. It is about formulating here, the handling and the watching of
the technical quality of components and building elements during the entire
building process (= concept/materializing + production/building) by the various
parties involved in this process. Through their own building physical and material
skilled laboratory work, as well as through the use of building physical calculation
programmes, students obtain, next to preliminary knowledge of methods of
scientific research, insight in the technical qualities of their own design too.
Acquiring knowledge takes further place through self-studies and through the
attendance of directed lectures, practical work and instructions. Acquired
knowledge and insight must for each student lead to a test, feedback and
improvement of the concept design from conceptual phase and the prototype
from the workshop. The latter activities therefore concern the improving of
previous design and development results.
The Laboratory for Product Development
In the laboratory for Product Development research is done by Master students
around the Zappi research cluster: research on a tough and transparent
construction material with many aspects. In this laboratory our students learn
how to weld and machine, which is unique for architecture students. After a
prototype module they are other students! The laboratory also has capacity for
other building technology and architecture Master students, and for PhD
students with material-tied researches or prototype-tied design work. The costs
of materials are greatly charged to the faculty, supplemented by sponsoring.
The laboratory has been in action since 1995. In 2005 it changed spaces,
migrated to the main building of the faculty and is now located next to the
famous Hall of Models of the faculty. It is now called the Laboratory for
Building Technology.


Fig. 88: Glass Dome, a project at TU Delft by research fellow Jan Wurm and Zappi students.

Fig. 89: Details of the all-glass dome prototype.




The University of Technology at Delft is composed of eight different faculties, all

technical sciences. three of these faculties are designing and three constructing
faculties. The professors at the different designing faculties have different views
on the process of designing and the design methodology derived from that. As a
general comparison of the position of architecture, the different design
approaches are interesting as well. A short survey looks as follows.


In the faculty of Architecture, teaching implies design methods. It is striking to

find that in the Nineties little motivation is left to work as methodically as in the
Sixties and Seventies, culminating in Notes on the Synthesis of Form of
Christopher Alexander (1964). For decades Functional Designing is taught to
architectonical students. The methodology of designing is nowadays
considered a skill and so to be taught by tutors. However, readers or lecture
notes in which the theories behind design methods are laid down in the form of
knowledge, are concentrated in one book: Ways to Study and research,
Urban, Architectural and technical Design, edited by De Jong and Van der
Voordt [ ISBN 90-407-2332-A], written in 2000 and edited in 2002 by as much
as 40 different authors from the faculty of Architecture, TU Delft. Professor Dr.
Taeke de Jong philosophizes on methodology in his lectures and books on
environmental designing. The author construes students of Building
Technology on his method of developing standard products in his
Organogram, which basically has been laid down in this book. This
monograph also came into being because of a lack of information on design

Fig. 90/91: Maison Verre, Paris Architects: Chareau & Bijvoet.


The faculty of Mechanical Engineering is the Grand Mother of Technology and

the scientific field to which material building moves more and more. The same
two views on design methods are current: the intuitive approach of designing,
which will have nothing to do with a systematized design process and the
methodical approach of the design process, as is advocated by professor Klaas
van der Werff. Van der Werff himself is an example of a Gyro Gearloose, a
designing and researching inventor. Every year he calls an introductory contest
for a strange apparatus like, for instance, a machine moving forward in de winds
eye. Doing so, he observes that the level of original technology in the
mechanical engineering design process is very high. His way of challenging
students to make original designs often leads to an original invention-like
concept with a very technical, but ingenious development into a working
prototype as well. Following the functional design is the design of the technical
system, the shape, the materials, the details and all of this in a number of
iterative circuits. Mechanical engineers are far less mesmerized by the aura of
designing than architects (mechanical engineer Jan Cool): designing is the
translation of a wish into a product that fulfils this wish.
In the faculty of Aerospace Technology TU Delft,
Professor Boud Vogelenzang held and his successor
Michiel van Tooren holds an integral vision in which
designing, developing and research alternate
continuously with each other in a completely integrated
process and they are, in fact, indissolubly connected.
Designing is understood by the putting up of a new
concept for the whole, for a component, for a detail or
for a material application. Research is the trying to
make known the unknown. Developing is understood
by the transfer of the design or partial design from the
one phase to the following, by further engineering and
optimalizing. Designing, developing and research
stimulate each other without a sequence or preference.
Each of these three clusters of activities can be
optimally launched. With aircraft construction the
meaning of research is far more labour intensive than
designing, because of the necessary discipline of
material optimalization, the long-term-of-live behaviour
and the necessary zero mistakes assembly. Professor
Adriaan Beukers wrote a revealing book on the
designing of lightweight materials and structures in
aeronautics. [Lightness, ISBN 90 6450 334 6]
In the faculty of Civil Engineering TU Delft,
Professor Hennes de Ridder understands designing
from his scientific field Methodical Designing, by all
activities concerning the making of decisions in the
material field. He says in his oration [8] that The
purpose of a design process is to find an effective
Fig.92: Design in
solution for a problem, by which the solution can be


carried out efficiently. And: of old, most emphasis is on techniques, in design

teaching as well as in design research. The structure in general gets sufficient
attention as well. But on the organization of the design process, only little is said
and written. That is regrettable because the civil engineer, educated in Delft, will
in any case be expected to lead a design team in his professional practice. His
predecessor, professor Polak, said in his reader Functional Designing [9]: I
look upon designing as a thought pattern which runs through the following
setting a problem
collecting data
developing alternatives
testing the alternatives
describing the chosen solution in a masterplan and a detail plan.
While somewhere else he said: an engineer
may be someone who is occupied with
designing and Yet, it is possible that most
engineers have designed their greatest projects
while they were still students and that many of
them became technicians afterwards, while
there is an enormous lack of good designers.
In the faculty of Industrial Design TU Delft
the approach of methodical designing stands at
a high level. Because of its kinship with
Architecture, Industrial Designing offers the
clearest example of the methodical approach.
Roozenburg and Eekels [1] phrase as an
interpretation of designing: the entire enterprise
process, from the first product idea up to the
production and distribution of the product on the
market, is called: product development. This
entire product developing process consists of a
technical (product directed) and a commercial
(enterprise directed) process part. Product
developing is a part of that comprehensive
process of product development. Roozenburg
and Eekels understand designing by the
contriving and fastening down the geometry, the
materials and the processing techniques of a
new product. But they also write: Yet, product
designing is a lot more than drawing. In the first
place it is in particular a directed thought
process, in which problems are analyzed, goals
are set and adjusted, proposals for solutions are
developed and the characteristics of these
solutions are assessed.


Fig.93: Design and research in

the domain of Industrial Design

With this interpretation all technique directed activities between initiative and the
final product manufacturing, should be looked upon as being designing.
Designing is the total of the activities of product designers, while the enclosing
total enterprise activity is called product development.
Architecture often looks with some reserves upon the very commercially
concerned product development at the faculty Industrial Design. Nevertheless,
industrial designers discuss the entire process of product development and they
know exactly who their principals are: these are producers of consumer
commodities who finance their commissions. They identify themselves with the
users of their products better than many an architect. Architects are not that
obedient and moveable as their colleagues at Industrial Designing, their
brothers under the skin (after Rudyard Kiplings The Ladies).
Professor Jan Buys in his book Integral Product Development [2], joins in
with the theory of Roozenburg and Eekels. On the phasing of the innovation
process of Roozenburg and ekels he observes: The model proves that the
designing of the new product itself, the core of product developing, is only one
step in the entire process. Especially this view on the object-directed or productdirected design process within the enfolding enterprise-directed development
process, is followed more and more by constructional designing. In the mean
time, the first generation of product designers has started in practice, with a
reasonable knowledge of the building industry and a great affinity with industrial


In the building industry the joint activities of Designing, Developing and

Research in the entire developing process takes place in three main domains
which influence each other thoroughly: Town Planning, Architecture and Building
Technology. This can be done in a positive manner when two successive
domains are well designed and so strengthen and stimulate each other. But
often frustrations arise from the lower quality of one of the two domains. It is as
with a good town-planning schedule which deserves many buildings with a high
architectonical quality; or a good building on a bad location which does not have
the optimum radiance; or intelligent and high levelled developed building
components for a simple building can be considered pearls cast before the
Macro: Town Planning;
Meso : Architecture;
Micro : Building Technology.
The three domains, indeed, influence each other, but in principle they have their
own specialized domain designers.




The town planner watches over the built environment on the greatest scale. In
his work politics, but also society philosophy and social developments play a
great part, because especially town planning has to thoroughly take into
consideration all sorts of long-term developments. Town planning is usually
done from town planning offices and from governmental departments, but is
sometimes also done from architects offices. Vice versa town planners who
made a masterplan for an area, sometimes succeed in designing a building in
full within their own town-planning scheme. The other way around it may
happen that the architect of a building in the neighbourhood makes an entire
town planning schedule. Architects look upon town planning as a means of
acquisition to obtain commissions for buildings. Apart from that, many architects
find it annoying when town- planners have already fastened down too many
characteristics of the building in an intention plan or a location plan. But townplanners as well have their highly necessary contribution and competence,
especially in more grand more lasting cohesions.

Fig. 94: Model of De Resident area development, the Hague, NL.


Fig. 95: Detail of the Resident, the Hague.


A clear example is incorporated in the experiences of urban designer Mariet

Schoenmakers (at the time employed by project developer MAB in Den Haag), in
the town planning scheme of De Resident in Den Haag. Nine big buildings had
to be designed in their town-planning cohesion. After that the nine individual
building design processes with nine architects (among them Rob Krier, Cesar
Pelli, Adolfo Natalini, Michael Graves, Sjoerd Soeters, Peter Drijver, Bert Dirrix
and Gunnar Daan) had to be coordinated and led from a strong town-planning
vision. But as a town-planner she also had to interfere with choices of materials
so, the domain of the building components: often the domains overlap or touch
each other and by this kind of domain overlapping there may come about
something unexpected. The experiences of the resident are put into words by
Vincent van Rossum in the book Stadbouwkunst: de stedelijke ruimte als
architectonische opgave. [21].


At the faculty of Architecture the study is done for more than 65% by students
who hope to work as an architect in the future. Of old, architecture is considered
the Mother of Arts because the spatially built environment offers a motive as
well as the opportunity for art. Therefore, the architect has, for a long time past,
indulged himself in the mystical pleasure of being an applied artist. He looks
upon his position as being placed in-between an artist and a technologist. For
this reason the architect puts creativity and originality first in architectonical

Fig. 96: Bridge-man house in Groningen. Architect:

Gunnar Daan.

Fig. 97: Details of the bridge-man house.


Modern artists design creatively and intuitively and usually do not or hardly justify
their design processes and only seldom do so with their results. The more selfwilled, the better. Art must be surprising and amazing one should not justify a
surprise. The unexpectedness and uninhibitedness often runs a track from
originality. It is often the other way around as well: when a self-willed design is
credited with the unassailability of original thinking. An artist designs and
creates his autonomous work completely for himself. The selling comes later.
With a specific building task at hand the freedom is more limited and an
explanation or motivation has to be given to principals, but a design which shows
the relativity of common building is often enough. Art has to liberate. For this
reason architects love artists. Their bond is a strong one. Technologists usually
design functionally, with technical schedules and material-technically, in an
efficient manner towards a practical result. Building Engineers do so, or should
be doing so, in an original and ingenious way. The architect tries to unite the
qualities of the artist and of the technologist inside himself. However, the
architect has, next to the task of solving a complex design challenge, a large
social responsibility because the buildings he designs will determine a part of the
city scene for generations to come. Often this part is not welcomed by his
principals, he will certainly not be paid for it in a direct sense. Only the social
respect and historical appreciation will be the external appraisal for his
interpretation of the cultural role. In many cases his work is inspired by cultural
influences. Culture, poetry and art influence his thinking and his designs are
coloured by them.
The architect also has a financial
responsibility towards his principal,
because he receives a building
commission which has to be realized
by a (more or less) fixed budget. He
designs buildings which are being
realized with other peoples money.
Apart from that, this goes for many
engineers, because with capital goods
in general, like bridges, ships,
aircrafts, engineers design for the
benefit and the costs of others. But in
contrast with his colleague-engineers,
the architect can be called to answer
personally to wastage much faster,
through his enterprising in a small
scaled and independent office. In The
Nederlands feasting at somebody
elses expenses is not done and there
are also no principals who supply
super budgets at the cost of other
spatial needs, as happened with les

Fig. 98: Bibliothque Nationale de France in

Paris. One of Les neuf Grands Traveaux.
Architect : Dominique Perrault.


neuf Grands Traveaux of the late Franois Mitterand in Paris. Dutch architects
live in a culture of building commissions that are ambitious in aspects, with
limited building budgets and they try to find their balance in this. Dutch
architecture is internationally viewed as being modest, but costs-aware and
especially down-to-earth with a number of gems of designed away


In the mean time, next to town planners and architects, also building
component designers appeared in college. This scientific field also knows its
kinship and overlapping with architecture, but now at the lower scale.
Designing components for specific buildings with traditional materials, was
always done by the architect. The traditional process evolves into a site
assembly of prefabricated components and industrial products.
By the increasing level of the necessary knowledge of technical
schedules, materials, production methods and assembly methods, the
designing of components and the developing of building products begins to
manifest itself by force as a full-valued scientific field. The competence should
in fact exist at the (larger) architects offices (first possibility). It can also be
accommodated in separate design offices for industrial building products and
building components (second possibility) or in the engineering departments of
producers (third possibility).
There are only a few architects offices in The Netherlands where component
designing is looked upon as an integral and inseparable part of the designing
of a whole building. In British high-tech offices, designing of the components of
a building is always an indissoluble part of the design process of the whole
building. Philosophically speaking, British designers have always stayed in
close touch with technology.
Their predecessors from the ninetieth century were great instigators for
the industrial revolution by their machine building, the railways and ship
building. The steam engine, locomotives and steam ships of the last century
were designed concurrently with bridges, railway stations and the more
architectural parts of the public transport. The current British high-tech offices
purposefully walk further on the same road. It is a high quality which is dearly
paid for, but it has a clear example function for other designers. The quality of
the components of a building can highly influence the quality of the building
So, the three domains of town planning, architectural and technical
designing complement each other well, make each other stronger and in
optimal cases all three of them must be clearly present and lead to designing at
a proper level. The domains may differ, but the approaches to designing show
many resemblances. To be able to work sensibly in the one domain, the other
domain has to be of an inspiring quality.


Fig. 99: Design for glass stairs Gentlemens club De Witte, The Hague. Design: Maarten Grasveld.
Structural Design: Mick Eekhout.




The handling or not of design methods has to do indirectly with the position of
the designer in the entire building process, which has changed in the course of
history by the increasing complexity of programme, building assembly and the
two processes of preparation and realization which together form the building
process. The attention of the architect is directed more at his position than, from
a permanent position, at the optimalizing of the design result by a methodical
process. When the architect is no longer the spider in the building process, the
result of his design process, however methodically it was realized could, out of
different motives, be changed by others into a sub-optimum result. In contrast
with all the other technical scientific fields, the designer of buildings (called the
Greek master carpenter, later in Gothic times the master stone-cutter, from the
Middle Ages master builder and ever since the Renaissance architect) has
been able to distinguish himself prominently from other persons in the building
process. The master builder had absolute control over the building process from
the top, in an artistic as well as in an executing sense. The main contractor as
we know him nowadays, has gradually risen from the architects assistant who
took care of the realization. With the shortening of building hours and with the
more parallel than serial organizing of activities, the entire building process has
become more and more complex and less well surveyable by only one person.
The increasing complex building process has further greatly been shaped in the
last generation by advisers in all sorts of scientific fields, once belonging to the
entire professional knowledge of the architect. Initially, structural advisers came
on, followed by climatic advisers, then came building costs advisors with building
management advisers at their heels who drew the managing of the increasingly
complex building process as a full-time job towards themselves. The modern
architect is quite a crack if he, nevertheless, is capable of maintaining the overall
view on the activities of all the involved parties in the building process. Normally
he will have to settle for a part of his former role. He usually has to exchange his
place at the top of the pyramid for a place as a functional and aesthetic artistic
designer somewhere in that pyramid. Apart from that it is not to be expected that
building processes for larger buildings will be simplified that fast in the future.
The entire society becomes more complex. Service which was initially offered as
an attractive help standby, has become institutionalized itself in the mean time in
such a way that a process without it is hardly possible anymore. It looks like a
going process without return. The status of being the prime trusted
representative of the principal, traditionally the architects status, has in the
mean time been taken over by the building manager who has no artistic
pretensions and conforms himself to the wishes of the principal, namely the
building within the limits of budget and time in the tumbling network of the
building process.
The architect stands alone to watch it all, if he does not at least make
these new advice disciplines his own and in this manner offers, in his architects
office, a complete packet of services again. The architect finds himself in most of
the large building projects in a less authoritative position and yet tries to maintain
as much status as possible. The architect has to reconquer his place in the


building production [6]. A short sentence from an oration, however, is not

enough to crank up the flywheel. For that an effort is needed from the entire
architects branch. The high level of individually functioning of the architect takes
care of the not complementing of individual protests on a larger scale. In the
Whitsun pamphlet 95 of the Dutch architect professor Jo Coenen a protest was
described against the sloppy association of principals with architects, who for
little or no fee in a competition situation were expected to rally their creativity and
ingenuity for a great design of which eventually only one was going to be
realized. However, this pamphlet did not cause a wholesale protest too of
architects or of their professional representatives. The current situation will
remain unchanged, unless there will be many to set themselves to it and
especially prominent professionals. But even well-known architects, also the
professors among them who, on account of their professorship could break a
lance, keep themselves far from publicity in this sense and so let an opportunity
for the profession go by.
In the last decade many Free Form Design buildings have been
proposed by architects and a few of them have indeed been realized. Free form
architecture leads to the necessity of a mother 3D model of the designed
building that is the basis for the overall design as well as for the co-design and
co-engineering of the building team members. It is the question who will
volunteer to function as the keeper of the 3D model. In the eroding development
of the role of the architect, this opportunity may very well be the only possibility
to gain back some say and power in the building process. This grasp for
regaining power comes with high amounts of hours, deep involvement and high
legal responsibility, though. In the building situation all parties in the building
process originate from their own independent discipline and have, therefore,
their own financial responsibilities next to their technical competences.
Unwillingness, whether consciously or not, misunderstanding and juridically
instead of technically interpreting of instructions can be the effect of this. This
role of the architect in the building process is derived from processes
surrounding the realization of medium and large buildings. With small buildings
the situation is less pulled apart and the architect has a fair chance in general to
a position as spider in the web. Although it is good to realise what evolutions
took place in the recent past, they are remembered for the main part because of
the future which lies before us. The university is directed at young professionals
who will only enter the practice in the third millennium and who know nothing
else but the current parts to play and the competencies. We must draw energy
from the past but we have to aim for the future. This situation of an ad hoc
composition of a building team or building connection springs from the grown
tradition of contracts and sub contracts and in fact perhaps from the primitive
Dutch merchandising spirit of principals, which actually stands diametrical with
regards to the Japanese model where designing and realizing within the limits of
a great Japanese industrial conglomerate or gurupu is very well possible, and
by that also obtains the power of concentration. In the mean time the EU has
sanctioned the ad hoc composition of participants in building processes by the
calling of activities in competition, the architects work as well as the contracts,
on the basis of free enterprising and equality for all. There is no promise to have


another clustering in the ad hoc building organization. So, the prospect is that
improvements in the preparation process and the realization process will have to
take place within the current balance of power.
In contrast with the privatized and fragmented situation in the building
practice, the designers in other technical scientific fields are almost always part
of a greater whole, in which designing, developing, research, producing and
realization often take place in one company with different departments.
Technical designers first make conceptual designs and make sure that after that
this concept is actually materialized, developed further into readiness for
production. But the designer has to submit as well to industrial objective number
one: the making of industrial profits, even if this is minimal. Although the
designer is responsible for his design in all circumstances, the above-mentioned
train of thought illustrates mainly the power the building designer has to have his
design realized totally after his own vision and to not have it devaluate. A strong
position of the designer is a better guarantee for a higher quality level of the
realized design and therefore should be pursued from every constructional
education. The author himself has in his architects days, always stood up for
himself. Sometimes, however, that brought about a tense relation with the
principal as a result.


The current building product and component designer

divides his professional time into four main levels. In the
preparation process he occupies himself with
and in the realization process with
The first two are mainly activities at the office which are
realized directly by him, respectively his co-workers or
advisors: preparation. The latter two activities are realized by
executing parties in offices, factories, workshops and at the
site: realization. Next to this his task is production and
building attendance and quality assurance. These four main
activities play an important role in the quality of the building
which has to be realized. The quality of the designers main
activities results in a direct influence on the quality of the
building product. This quality also depends on his
capabilities which can be distinguished at four levels:
Fig. 100: Four stages
Knowledge (facts, structures)
in building process.
Capability (skill)
(overall view )
(view on the future)
Knowledge can be gained by studying. Knowledge also has to be kept up. Skill
or capability is obtained by exercising the making of designs. A skilled designer


creates reasonable buildings and building products. But with all the knowledge
which comes in ever increasing frequencies and with ever greater penetration
via all sorts of databases of an audio/manual sort up to an electronic sort, the
need for making connections for learning why becomes ever stronger. Making
inquiries without a structure to store this information and make it
understandable, is senseless in the long run. It is known that more often the
making of connections between data becomes more important than the data
themselves. Insight is obtained when one has command over the complex
intertwining of the ingredients of the field, its problems and their solutions, and
operates from that position. Perspective, survey and insight all have to do with
this. A designer with insight is a good designer. It is only given to a few to have a
vision of where the development of society, the architecture, the building
technology and the position and role of designing in this, is coming to. Vision
stands for an opinion on the future of the scientific field in society and is not
explained here as a design vision for a building, an explanation of how the
design fits into its context, but rather as a view of the future. Students can look
upon the aforementioned four steps as goals to come to self-expression. Vision,
by the way, is like many perceptions liable to wear and tear by trendy usage
(Building Maintenance with Vision). Students need to have a couple of spiritual
characteristics in the rising intensity of a pyramid:
The Gift
These ever intensifying attitudes offer a fair chance to more better results in
designing. The challenge of the teacher is to transfer interest into enthusiasm,
and this into drive etc. Only passion and a gift for designing can give a designer
the opportunity to change a building or a building component as a composition of
lifeless parts, into a living object. Buildings and building components with a mind,
a spirit, an esprit form the difference with a good and an excellent product.
Therefore, it is not enough when education only administers knowledge and
learning to students by design exercises. Teachers must show their insight and
vision to make clear that there is a higher-levelled goal, through which students
will become motivated to endure their annoyingly slow process of the taking in of
knowledge. Too much knowledge without insight and vision is fatal for a
designer. Endless exercises in knowledge without insight leads to a routine
without passion. Insight and vision carry the motivation and object directedness,
while knowledge and learning determine the actual dedication of the designer.
But, just vision without providing knowledge and learning means flying around in
circles without ever landing with both feet on the ground. One could found an
office on vision and a little demagogy to seduce principals, however somewhere
else in the office knowledge and learning are demanded for the materialization,
which determines the success of the office just the same. Insight as such implies
a decent basis of knowledge and learning, although this does not need to be
factual. Insight and vision may very well lead to good, new developments.
Readers of this monograph are component designers, working at the side of the


industry and technical architects, working in architects offices. That is why this
monograph continuously considers the architect as well as the component
designer. The component designer is, in general, in a position in which he has a
limited responsibility for the management of the developing process. The
product developer usually has this responsibility. Many architects are relieved,
because in their opinion building management does not add enough to the
quality of the building to spend much energy on it. In their view, the quality of the
building is already completely comprised in the building specifications of the
calling party. This is rather naive. So many things go wrong that, if only to
defend the quality of the design, during the process of the making, the architect
should be present at the building-site and the component designer should be in
the factory. The realization process often shows a continuous fight between all
the connected parties of the project, entangled in a Gordian knot. Fast and
efficient judging and alterations have to be achieved. This requires a high
degree of a designers sense of realism. On the other hand there are, of course,
many building managers who are quite content when they can take over
especially this part of the architects job. They are aware that ever more power
will fall to them. The majority of participants in a building meeting nowadays,
consists especially of onlookers: the non-directly producing parties. A skilled
designer anticipates the production and building-site processes in his design, in
order to prevent big surprises showing up during the realization. He has to take
into account more and more the, unfamiliar to the profession, production and
fabrication processes with the designing of prefabricated or industrialized
elements and components out of which the building has been realized. So, most
of the architects work must be done before the building is tendered. Technical
architects work with prefabricated or industrialized elements and components
and also have prepared and elaborated their jobs in the design phase already.
They do not need to worry so much about leaving their management to others,
although they are often such perfectionists that they will never lose control over
the production and assembly process whatsoever. With this course of events the
engaging in the market mechanism of the principal (have the building and
components built for the lowest price with only minimal requirements as a
prospect) and of the main contractor (finding leverage posts, ensuring good
profits capacity of the company) causes a lot of stiffness and the compelled
spending of much energy on quality negotiations of the architect during the
realization phase. What goes for the architect, often also goes for the
component designer. Logically the architect and the component designer need
to possess a broad knowledge of production techniques, in order to know what
materials are being used, what processes can be put in and what element and
component shapes are the results of these. The architect often thinks the other
way around: he thinks only of the building as a result. It is the contractors job to
find a way to get it done. (There will always be some noodle around to make it
for you). Because an increasing part of the building technology is developed
outside the architectonical drawing-room and outside the site, being the classical
domains of the architect, he now has to collect his knowledge from the industry:
the producers and fabricators, who actually re-design, engineer, manufacture
and assemble the components of his building. The same industry has


sometimes been squeezed out like a lemon while still in the tendering process,
after having given her information. Therefore she sometimes reacts frightened
off at architects. It is the authors experience as a component designer and a
producer that project architects all over the world wrestle with the same
problems to keep informed of the current production and manufacturing
processes. The two main designing activities Conceptual Designing and
Materialization are often found in two different persons at a (larger) architects
office, a specialism which depends on the knowledge and skills from both sides.
The power of the separation, however, often comes from the combination.
Therefore, the conceptualist has to know how production processes come about,
or anyway know enough about them to be able to design a correct scheme, and
be little pervaded and blocked by that knowledge that he is capable of making a
flamboyant design. Strangely enough it is often heard that a too thorough
knowledge of technological processes can have a paralyzing effect on the
architectonical concept. But this does not go for the building component
designer. The current generation has an overflow of information, which is
actually greater than ever before, while memory space is only limited. Besides,
the designer has to cope with a complex of a great number of very diverged
aspects of designing. Just for that reason it would be sensible to direct the
education of designers more at survey and insight than at factual knowledge. It
would be better to educate generalists with a minimum of profoundness, than
specialists with a too great profoundness. Hopefully an esprit in the design will
come up by their passion and gift over the knowledge, learning and insight. The
importance of this insight as a means of connection between knowledge &
learning and passion & gift is the reason why this book circles, as it were, over
designing and developing processes. Ideally the capabilities of the making of the
concept and the materializing should be united in one and the same person, but
with larger building projects it is convenient to work with labour division and with
that this separation is inevitable. The distinction between the conceptual part
and the materializing part of designing originates from the last century already,
when specialist techniques were introduced into the building technology and
were for the main part neglected by architects or even scorned, because their
interests were at different levels. These were directed more at the (glorious)
history than at the then present time. The two typical attitudes of architects in the
design concept and materialization actually spring from the controversy between
the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Ecole Polytechnique. An architect who is
unable to materialize is a dreamer and an architect who is unable to give his
building a convincing or satisfying concept, is only a draughtsman and not a
designer. The architect who is capable of having his building being possessed
by an esprit, is a prima donna. A good project architect should, in principle, be in
control of the conceptual design as well as the material design of a building. An
excellent architect knows, moreover, how contractors, producers and fabricators
must be challenged to manufacture building parts which enhance the state of
technology. In this dialogue the industry is usually rather conservative because
with the elaborating of new ideas discipline, organization, logistics and profit
capacity are at stake, not to mention the ignorance with which to deal with other
concepts. At the other side of the table many suggestions of architects to make


the impossible possible, break down on mere ignorance about the possibilities of
production processes. The author only seldom meets architects who have
sufficient knowledge of and insight in production processes and who would love
to see new components being made, and indeed prove that they can be
produced by the industry, but only after much pulling and pushing. And all the
time the industry was not aware of that possibility with which the state of
technology would actually be enhanced. Many of those persevering architects
are truly interested in technology. British high-tech architects offices showed that
way in the Seventies and the Eighties. Probably this development was
depending on the British interest in mechanical engineering and related
techniques like trains, ships and aircrafts, which influenced British architects to
think positively about technology in architecture. Or maybe it would be better to
say that it has vaccinated them against the loss of appetite and taste in
technology. Architects with a great interest in the technology of building like Frei
Otto, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw,
Michael Hopkins, Ian Ritchie and Santiago Calatrava, to name but a few of the
generation of technical architects, have shown the world and their colleagues
what progress can be produced in a technological respect and how technique is
able to stimulate the quality of architecture. They know that every achievement
hides a new challenge. They all have a passion for designing and building and
they also have the gift to elevate technology and architecture above the usual
level. A society which cannot be appreciated for its buildings in history will be
easily forgotten. And these architects also made delighting concepts which, like
a tidal wave, cleared a way for their followers. Every generation will only have a
few creative persons of the mould of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who
were masters in the field of concepts, the choice of suitable materials and the
knowledge to translate their concepts literally into materials. Renzo Piano is the
greatest modern hero of technical architecture. Architects do not speak of
materializing in the same literal sense, but figuratively: the destination of the
design being materialized. The literal materializing is, of course, done by the
industry and the builders. But the heroes lead the way for colleagues who are
less gifted with capabilities and opportunities. Thanks to the compromising and
fragmentised application of technology to ever complicating buildings, buildings
become less severe compositions of various building parts and components. In
this entire complex, technology is used less dominantly and sometimes even
consciously wrongly used. That is why the denomination high-tech becomes less
and less applied and it would be better to speak of mild-tech, in which the
current balance between technology in its different levels and architecture would
be expressed. It is possible to combine traditional techniques with very
advanced technologies. The current generation has neither the aim, nor the
means to build a kilometres high sky-scraper, or roofs with mega overlappings,
because it is well aware that by concentrating on such designs and single
aspects from the entire Gordian knot of the building commission, there is a great
chance of an out of balance case. Architecture is applied art and moreover it is a
costly affair for society and architects should be conscientious about that. These
times ask for elaborated and balanced designs, with many adjustments and
refining, but it needs the more lan and esprit.


Fig. 101: Alamillo bridge in Sevilla designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Fig. 102: Detail of Alamillo bridge.


Fig. 103-105: Olympic Stadium Roof, Munich. Architects: Gnther Behnisch & Frei Otto.




Design methods are planning instruments for design processes. They are, as it
were, the means of navigation which can steady a once started course.
Methodology is the study field of methods. The methodics of a scientific field is
the sum of methods which are applied in a scientific field by a single professional
or by a group. A method is a fixed, well-thought of general way of acting to
achieve certain goals, a systematic way of working. Because designing happens
individually, methodics at a higher level can only be a gathering of similar
individual methods. A way of acting can be accomplished once, unexpectedly or
incidentally and unprecedented, but yet by directed thinking. The pursued way of
acting in the development process can also be very methodical, like a recipe of
which one has experienced for many times that it leads to a purposeful result in
an efficient way. Every well-minded human being tries to minimize the energy
which is needed for repetitively occurring activities. Every human being has
ways of acting which simplify the purposeful thinking at every partial activity to
an unconscious attendance which does not require much energy. This goes for
private life as well as for professional life. Only the methodical case will have a
set pattern at the basis.
The author often uses a pair of methods, especially during
brainstorming: back to basics and de morphological chart, can give a good
survey of possibilities of which one would not think in first instance. Next to that
the author often organizes the complete processes in his design approach with
the help of an Organogram (see ch. 9, 10 and 11).


During a design process a stalemate can often be broken through by looking

clearly at the core, in spite of all side-matters. This often means going back to
basics. With the designing of a hanging glass space envelope in the shape of
transparent ceilings and suspended glass screens for the Nieuwe Kerk in Den
Haag, the architect Cees Spanjers and the author philosophized on the
possibilities. This seventeenth century church, designed by Peter Post around
1650, has an inside height of 24 metres: approximately 17 metres high brickwork
walls, with above these a timber roof-frame of 7 metres high, which runs through
even higher into the attic. The glass wall screens were going to be positioned
from 3 metres + to 10 metres + and the ceilings at 10 metres +.
Inside the church four glass curtains were going to be hanged and three
glass ceilings to shorten the echo in the church dramatically and so make the
church fit for speaking and for chamber music concerts. For the sake of organ
concerts, one head curtain had to be pulled up temporarily to 17 metres + upper
side. During the preceding design phase we assumed all the time that this
curtain screen, weighing 3,000 kilograms, could be hanged at the existing timber
roof construction and that two hoisting winches could be installed on the wooden
attic construction. We sought alternative scenarios to move the walls and so
brought up the principles of the moving of windows. We went back to basics.


Fig. 106: Suspended glass screens in the Nieuwe Kerk, the Hague, NL.
Acoustical Design: Metkemeijer. Architect: Cees Spanjers. Structural Design: Mick Eekhout.


With the same principles also a heavy glass panel had to be moved: according to
the principle of shoving, turning and pegging. There are no other possibilities.
Therefore, the solution had to be found in:
Shoving into X, Y or Z direction
Turning into X, Y or Z direction
Pivoting into X, Y or Z direction
It was clear that shoving would cause single or double load on the building
construction, that turning would cause large extra bending moments and that
pivoting in the state of balance actually requires little energy to move. In the
mean time the glass walls and ceilings are installed, with the intended effect the
famous Dutch acoustic expert Rob Metkemeijer of Bureau Peutz Associs, with
whom the author already had designed three glass concert halls, had in mind.
However, the definite construction of the hoistable part of the design has not
been realized yet, because of costs considerations. The walls and ceilings are
that transparent that they are hard to be photographed. But to go back to basics
for a moment in the design process was very clarifying for the analysis process
of the concept for the moving of the glass walls.


In the synthesis phase partial

solutions often have to be singularly
combined with each other. To make
this graphic the method of the
morphological chart can be used,
where on each of the two axes the
different partial solutions to be
combined, are reflected. In the
authors thesis Architecture in Space
Structures [16] he has reflected on
nine different main types of spatial
structures in a morphological chart.
While drawing the chart it became
clear that, in the preceding years
between 1982 and 1989, being a
structures, he had not been aware
combinations nowhere in the world
ever had been made. With this the
handling of a method like that
became a creative voyage of
discovery of not yet discovered

Fig. 107: Morphological chart of space





The five categories of new, advanced, complex, experimental and ultra-fast

design commissions require the same attitude of working carefully and
thoroughly. (Perhaps these two notions careful and thorough cause intuitive
designers to think that they are robbed of their spontaneity and creativity). Of the
design process a global 2-D process matrix can be set up, where on the vertical
axis the activities cluster can be put, and the main aspects on the horizontal
axis. An extension of the design to the main components of the design could
take care of the completion of the third dimension, usually viewed as a number
of 2-D matrixes on top of each other with strong relations in the 2-D field and
less strong relations between the different matrixes of the different components.
From this process matrix each design process of partial design process knows a
sensible division into a couple of global phases, each of which can be looked
upon as clusters of various activities and have a logical sequence:








Fig. 108: main

phases of design

The cluster phase objective/goal contains all considerations and activities for an
efficient start, attendance and control of the entire design process. Analysis is
understood by all activities which describe the problem in its totality and after
that partially. Synthesis is understood by the activities which have to do with the
generating of solutions for partial problems after spontaneous brainstorms and
common sense reasoning. Simulation is understood by the reflection of the
design as a whole and in parts, sketched or drawn on paper, drawn on the
computer screen and printed on paper, moulded in scale materials or real
materials and in the latter case the testing of the performance. The evaluation is
the judging of the design result from simulation. The iteration is the feedback of
the interim or final result of the design process back to a previous phase or
cluster phase. This feedback is a very characteristic quality of the design
process, where the non-clarity of the complexity to come to a good design
results in a couple of efforts, has to be conquered.The cluster objective/goal
deserves special attention, the start of a design process is as such of great
importance in order to not end up in a swamp of conflicting and confusing
requirements and wishes.


On top of the design process, and as far as the author is concerned in every
genesis process of human activities, the following activities should be described
and answered before the actual designing can start:
Evaluation criteria
Financial means
Only when these activities are sufficiently described
the course is set and the actual design process can
begin. The lacking of one of the four answers will
lead to respectively aimlessness, razzling and
prematurely and self-deception during presentations,
because perhaps a wonderful design for an
incorrectly set commission has to be justified. These
four subjects must be answered with every start of a
project: whether the subject is the making of a
Fig. 109: Initial steps.
materially spatial design, the writing of an article or a
book or a consensus meeting.
With the repetition of the design commission further drawing from
experience of previous commissions is done and then the headwork can be
much faster. Routine can replace a part of a cognitive design process by direct
pointing to the best results, which furthermore must be weighed on the altered
circumstances of the repetitive project. With complexity and experiments the
acting has to careful, cold-blooded and methodical. In the contents of the process
matrix, the following main aspects can be considered to be dealt with after or
next to one another, but not back to front and they know an inert or frequent
mutual influence:
Space & Shape
Structure, Technology, Material & Details
In environment all considerations come up from the higher scale level:
considerations concerning physical planning and the politics for town- planning,
town-planners considerations for a building and architectonical considerations
for a building component.
In the function considerations are at order concerning the functional
analysis, starting with a programme of requirements, the determination of main
and partial functions of the design to be made, its components and the relations
of the functions to each other.
After that follows for buildings in space the spatial analysis, the
determination of the individual spaces and the relations, nearness or
connections of the mutual spaces. With shape follows for buildings the material
shape of the envelopment and the support of the envelopment. With


components space is not an item as such but is included in shape. Space &
Shape usually are solidly developed in a strong reciproque relation, like
Structure, Material, Technology & Detail.
x Structure is understood by the planning for the design: the townplanning schedule, the building respectively the building
components. The structure varies from immaterial or abstract to very
material or a concrete form between the mentioned macro, meso
and micro levels. The structure in the town-planning scheme can be
made explicit by a great amount of means: highways, waterways,
open plains, built-up areas, green spaces and the likes. The
structure of a building is determined by the connecting of spaces, by
dividing spaces by means of columns and by the main load-bearing
construction of the building when it concerns a framework. The
structure of components usually exists of load-bearing and
separating parts.
x Technology is understood by the mechanical, structural, material
knowledge, installation and production technical aspects of the
design process. The choice of the type of technology depends on
the design.
x Material is understood by the choice of the materials for the various
parts of the town-planning scheme, the building or the components,
usually a multi material result being a combination of technical
considerations, because of the great variation of functions of the
designs various components and of visual or philosophical
considerations like a wished for radiance.
x Details are understood by the engineering of the whole in
components and the connection of the (equal and unequal)
components with each other.
x Economy is understood by the financial consequences of the
design. Economy is a result of the design and the production
process. In many processes the economy is placed in front as a
goal. Within this interaction many confusions and discussions
between designers and their principals arise. The here described
process matrix can be considered a personal attempt to structure
the design process and so to work systematically and methodically.
For students, a systematically set learning process leads to the
faster obtaining of knowledge and insight. By known (customary)
challenges in the later phase of the study or in the professional
designers life, the unconscious design experience is activated to
come to a design faster.




Professor Taeke de Jong, in publications from

his scientific field of Technical Ecology &
Environment Planning, or the faculty of
Architecture TU Delft, in connection with
designing and research, speaks about different
futures, indicated by the notions:
He provides the adjacent scheme on the
relations between these three futures and
illustrates them as follows: the collection of
probable futures cannot stand out the collection
of possible futures, even when prognoses break
adrift year after year. Our possibilities are no
more constant, by the way: they get smaller by
ecological exhaustion on a daily base. Between
both, and partly outside the realm of the possible
(1, fiction) lies the collection desirable futures.
Fig. 110: De Jongs improbability
Some of them are probable (2), most of them
are not (3). A part of the probable futures is not
desirable (4). Furthermore there is a number of
eco-technical possibilities which are not (yet) probable and desirable (5). This
category of improbable futures we cannot predict, we have to design them. On
this category in particular I will put the emphasis, because the probable futures
are extremely gloomy from the environmental point of view. Our most important
hope lies in the improbable, but nevertheless possible futures [17]. Futures (3)
which are desirable and possible, but not probable (or originating from familiar
knowledge), deserve the greatest attention. As a model of giving insight this
triple division is used more and more by ever more scientists at the faculty of
Architecture, in various versions of De Jong:
wanting, predicting and designing
goal setting, problem stating and means
political, scientific and technical


Communication plays an important part in the building process. In society, in

order to stimulate cooperation, there must be communication and the exchange
of information. Even thoughts and methods of thinking must then be made
public, or at least being expressed. This is harder if the matter is very complex
and comprehensive, it becomes easier with more limited commissions. In
technology it is easier to isolate partial problems and so to examine them in total
seclusion. At the intersection of technology and philosophy and culture, where
the scientific field of architecture can be found, the isolation of a partial aspect is


often a more precarious matter because with the setting of limitations very
sensible mutual and synergetic influences are often left out. The result is that
partial aspects can never be separately viewed, but that the inter-relations
between partial aspects have to be very well considered. The total synthesis of a
problem is not just an adding up of partial syntheses. The art of separation can
be found in connecting. As soon as architectonical designers realize that they
are complexity designers and get themselves suitable tools for this, they are well
on their way. But between a thinking method and a mutual effort lies
communication, which has to convince the participants in the process of the
correctness of the headwork. This communication can be verbally, in writing,
drawn (2-D or 3-D), or be moulded in an immaterial form (screen: 2-D, 2,5-D or
3-D) or in a fixed form (model, prototype, 3-D). The used means of
communication is usually and with preference chosen because of its
effectiveness in the concerned circumstances: there is a number of means of
visualization. Drawing is one of them. Drawing must not be confused with
designing. Drawing is the sparring partner of designing.
Designing is a continuous interchange between thoughts in the head,
manual efforts to visualize these into writing and image and auditive
communication with feedbacks afterwards. Designing is an iterative process
between thinking brains, visualizing hands and the dreaming heart.

Fig. 111-114: Maritime Museum of Amsterdam. Design proposal for a glass roof covering the
courtyard by Mick Eekhout.




In the authors thesis [16] the Organogram for Product Development is described
for standard products. The Organogram describes in sequential and parallel
activities with feedbacks, the main lines of a design and development process
for a new building product, completed with the necessary marketing phases. The
standard Organogram is illustrated at the inside of the cover at the back of this
Complete design methods
In view of the design results, students would benefit more when these and other
methods are taught from the very start of their education. The handling of design
methods should therefore, as far as it is lacking in the basic years, be brought to
that basic training. Not only students need to be educated, teachers also have to
become aware of that, in order to make explicit their individual design methods
from their subconsciousness and then carry it through to students.
Actually three types of building products can be mentioned, separated
from each other by the influence of the project or the consumer/project architect,
versus that of the product or the producer. In that tense field are: special, system
and standard products. Reasoning from the project architects point of view, who
used to draw all component parts of his building himself in former days, this is
(extremely put) the sequence of 100% to 0% of influence from special to
standard products. From the producing industries point of view (for instance
glass production industries, also working for the automobile industry) the
preferential sequence with the intermediate form of products (of which the
characteristics also lie in-between the three main lines) is, of course, the other
way around: from standard to special products (see Ch. 3.4):
Standard product
systematized standard product
standardized system product
System product
special system product
systematized special product
Special product
The sequence reflects to the producer the sliding down of mass production at a
large scale to the workshop productions at a small scale or one-offs. In view of
the normally relatively small serial sizes in the building industry, a much used
intermediate station is that of the system products, as greatest common divisors
to be put in with more projects and which can be made suitable with relatively
little trouble for individual projects in production. The three main types of
products have enough different characteristics to scrutinize all of them
separately and also to follow a different development process strategy in each of
the three cases. Although the following process organizations are very
analytical, there is also a holistic vision at the basis. Out of the holism the total is
always reflected in the parts. With this is not meant the connections of parts, but


the character of the whole. This influence is especially strong at the synthetical
activities like the design synthesis of phase 1 and the research activities of
phase 3, by which these will always maintain the guarantee of putting them into
the whole.


As a work method to control the entire process, the Organogram for standard
products is illustrated. It describes the entire process of steps and activities from
the initiative up to the actual regular production. The Organogram is a reflection
of the sequence of process activities as the author has experienced it as a
model for a smooth running process in designing and developing in his
company Octatube. These activities, however, are described in a generalizing
manner to have a broader validity. The sequence of the various steps or
activities is serial (one after the other) or parallel (one next to the other). The
specific project circumstances, like the completion of the concerned
development project, the capacities and insights of the participants in the
process, the time pressure from outside and such worries, cause a different
interpretation of any of the three general Organograms up to a specific project
Organogram or process Organogram, over and over again. But this does not in
the least alter the validity of the Organogram as a general method for product
development. Certain sequences are very consciously placed in the shown
framing, like firstly Objective/Goal and Strategy, after that Evaluation Criteria
and only then the working with the Analysis, Brainstorm and Synthesis of partial
aspects, then the entire product concept and behind that the evaluation
activities. Actually it concerns the sequence of four clusters of activities blocks:
Objective / Goal
Analysis and Synthesis of aspects
Clustering for product concept
Evaluation and Feasibility
The order of these four blocks can not be altered, but there is more freedom
within the blocks: the partial aspects can be gone through serially or parallelably,
depending on the subject. Serial working means to be able to concentrate on
one single problem at the time, while parallel working means the shoving around
of information in one mind, or the simultaneous working of more division groups
of process participants. The price of parallel working is a higher complexity in a
structured chaos with an inherent loss of costs, the advantage is a more
frequent feedback and a faster result. Parallel working is fierce and more
expensive, but faster. No more waiting, but anticipating. The increasing demand
for parallel working is expressed in the notion concurrent engineering (see ch.
4). We must take into account that principals will want to work through design
and building processes ever faster. One of the activities which is hardly to be
shortened, is the building permission traject. In the beam chart of the entire
(preparation & realization) building process the length of the beams of the
building permission procedures are hardly alterable. The longer the building
permission beams become, the less time is left for engineering and building. In


the future the building process will become ever shorter. Concurrent engineering
or simultaneously working with all its dexterity to double activities as few as
possible, should belong to the intellectual luggage of the engineer.
These types of products which are mainly directed at the industrial market
and at industrial manufacturing, are described in the very first Organogram [1,2].
They are distinguished from the special and system products because the
project architect (practically) has no influence on the creation of these products,
their manners of production and therefore, the actual resulting product. All he
can do is choose: whether or not to apply a certain product. Sometimes minor
interventions in the product can still take place per product, like the tangling of
bricks, the cutting to fit of tiles or glass plates, but that is not an influence which
is related to the nature or the production manner of the design. The Organogram
for standard products is built up of five characteristic phases:
Design Concept
Preliminary Marketing
Prototype Development
Final Marketing
Product Manufacturing


The first phase of the Organogram is titled Design Concept, and is comparable
with a Provisional Design in architectonical designing. First we will globally
explore the steps in this phase before going deeper into each phase. Especially
head and tail of this phase, first and foremost deserve our attention.
The Organogram was based upon the entire project being viewed as a
project. Logical in activities, but rather confusing in connection with the titles of
project architect and product architect. Therefore we will henceforth rather speak
of process, instead of project, and in that sense the adjacent Organogram has
been adjusted.
It is of the greatest importance to correctly define the process objective,
the start of the process, the process strategy, the process goal and the
evaluation criteria. One could compare this with the importance of a good
programme of requirements for an architectural design. If the programme does
not meet the actual needs, then much energy is wasted and false expectations
are raised which can only lead to disappointment. Firstly, this initial cluster of
steps is important because from this the direction the process is heading for, is
determined and from this the product will be developed in the process.
Secondly, it is important to build in the expectation beforehand and the scoring
rate afterwards. If the result of the process does not meet the evaluation criteria,
the process has failed, unless halfway by a genius turn a consciously different
route is taken. When this happens, it is good to realize that the initial goal is not
achieved and the goal halfway (that is, after the genius turn) must be adjusted
consciously and motivated. It has happened more than once that so-called
coincidental discoveries in a research process led to radical results at a
worldwide level, while from the original process only an anecdotal mention
remained. But this can be looked upon as the exception to the rule that the


process must be gone through very accurately. The danger of drifting about in a
product development process with all its inherent loss of energy is many times
greater and more frequent than the chance of an unintended brilliant sideproduct. It is a matter of efficiency of human resources.
The end of the first phase must be concluded with the economical step of
feasibility, which can also be looked upon as feedback for the evaluation criteria.
When this first phase is thus concluded by a positive result, only then the second
phase will be entered.
The initiative of a producing company to complete the companys
assortment with a new product is derived from the unbalanced relation between
changing demands and the set supplies. This new product shout fit in the current
assortment, be produced by the existing, available equipment and channelled
through existing marketing routes. From this initiative the specific product
process comes about.
Start of process: 1
The start of the process is set up by the commission to develop a certain
standard product, mostly a material product. The motivation behind this
commission can be formed from questions from the practice or market for a yet
non-existing product, or an improvement of an already existing product which, by
altered usage circumstances is no longer seen as a sufficient answer to the
demand. It is also possible that this motivation contains a hidden theoretical
objective (for instance in an academic study), leading to a hypothesis without a
direct control on the practice. In that case the process must be understood as a
product development game, where the end results not necessarily can be or
have to be realistic. For instance, the development of Zappi (see ch. 3.8).
Since, in the case of a hypothetical starting point, common sense and
insight are capable, indeed, but personal practice experiences (knowledge) and
learning are not capable of making sufficient corrections, it is an absolute
necessity to describe and document the process game properly, in order to
maintain ones course at this outside world level, in order to communicate with
the persons involved in the game. This goes for the student, as well as for the
teacher. Well begun is half done. A false start is usually noticed late in time and
means loss of energy, much displeasure and friction. The very first question one
has to ask oneself at the start of the process and the choice, respectively the
acceptance of the product commission, is if this required product is in
accordance with the market demand behind it or if it will be so in the future.
Process goal: 2
After the above, the first thing to do in the process is to describe its goal. When it
concerns a building, which usually comprises a multiplicity of functions, a
programme of requirements describes which functions a building must have.
Such a programme of requirements is very extensive for a building. It also
changes with time. For the smaller components of the building, however, each of
them having less complex functions it will, of course, be more simple.According
to Roozenburg et al [2] the programme of requirements must in any case
mention how many identical numbers of the product must be manufactured,


what the price will be and for what market the product is meant. Besides, a
design commission has to contain a product basic idea, given by the
commissioning company. Here the question is if the objective or the programme
of requirements is set clearly enough, if any inconsistencies have crept in, if
there are too personally coloured visions processed in it (that is to say:
hobbyism) which would not be just and would lead to a product which somebody
may like to see, but would not be a realistic answer to a demand from the
market. Enclosed in the companys brief to the designer is the notion that the
required product is likely to get a sound receipt at the market. So, this has
everything to do with the initial estimating of the characteristics of the product at
this point, in order not to become saddled with an unsaleable product after the
development process. This market notion can be described and controlled by,
for instance, making inquiries into a small group of professionals at the very
least, or by dedicating a market inquiry on a large scale to it, completed with
evaluation reports and a well-reasoned objective of the product. Since the
danger of an initial deviation of course in the process, set in at this point and
later to be corrected, does not seem hypothetical, it is of the greatest importance
to document and elaborate one thing and another, so that afterwards, when
there is a correction of course, feedback can be applied. All these activities are
the clients responsibility, before commissioning the designer.
Process strategy: 3
Next to the process goal it is good to already map out a route towards the
achieving of this goal. Estimated at this stage is how many steps or activities
have to be to put in, one after the other or simultaneously. The exact progress of
the process is in the dark, but it is good to make an overall survey before
actually starting to work. To students who are confronted with a plan like this for
the first time, it is good to set up their own process diagram of assumed steps or
activities: their own Organogram. There must be no fear that all steps will not be
mentioned or that the emphasis is put on other things when executing the
process: the process diagram can be kept up and altered all the time, so that it
can serve as a reference book of process management. A second time it will
definitely be easier. After this, for instance, the standard sequence will be
maintained and from the standard schedule the specific process alterations are
brought in automatically. After the first exercise, a certain knowledge should
arise in the guidance of oneself and in the reasoning on what activities have to
be processed first, followed by what others, respectively what activities must be
done simultaneously.
At first sight the alternation of the technique and marketing phases in the
Organogram is very striking. To the building technology student it is a clear sign
that two marketing phases have been built-in between the three technique
phases. To the building management student it is clear that the marketing
activities need an intensively developed technical process in three phases to
come to a technically suitable product.


Fig. 115: Characteristic activities in Concept Design Phase.


Evaluation criteria: 4
The fourth step in the process is already a small running start towards the result,
taken by putting down the wishes and requirements a successful product must
meet. To set these criteria at this point already, is indeed a precarious matter,
because a great advance has to be taken on the process. But it helps to define
the exact expectations and when they are expected to be fulfilled. If wished for,
returning to this step a couple of times during the process is also possible, as is
the well-reasoned adjustments of the evaluation criteria. The pattern of these
adjustments also tells, of course, something about the purposefulness of the
start and the drifting about of the process afterwards. However, if criteria are not
set at this point, it will not be known if the process after having ran through an
amount of steps, is the right one or if it will lead to the desired results. Obscure
or ill-defined evaluation criteria may lead to simultaneously moulding of
expectations and solutions. In the worst case, designers tend to adapt the
evaluation criteria to the developed product or process result instead of the
other way around!
Process Assurance: 5
As is mentioned above the process consists of a contents part (at the right in the
diagram) and a steering and assurance part (at the left). In this process the
progress of the process is regularly compared to the previously set process plan,
the agreed time schedules and the financial budgets. To this entry consequently
belongs a financial estimation of costs beforehand, according to the process and
previous experience, from roughly budgeted to, if possible, more refined at set
time units, unit costs or total costs. A normal course of events covers the refining
estimation of the next steps to follow, up to and including the roughly
approximation of further remote steps which, in their turn are being refined from
approximation to estimation when the actually processing activities are
becoming better known. Since the specific product development process is
mostly directly initiated from the companys top management, the reporting of
the contents process part is also management directed and the process
assuring is a management related activity. The process assurance sets partial
goals as well and controls these regularly by watching the actual progress. It
almost goes without saying to neglect this financial activity in a study situation, if
only a mark-reward did not go with this. Time is essential, even for contemporary
Study aspects: 6
After the objective, strategy, evaluation criteria and assurance as conditions
have been determined, the core of the process begins with making a distinction
in the main problem by a number of partial problems. These are more or less
autonomous, or for a short while as autonomously considered aspects of the
subject, they can be studied separately. In some processes there will only be a
few aspects, in other there will be more. It is clear that with the development of a
complex machine or building, many aspects can be studied next to one another,
while the designing of a simpler part, for instance a system of new glass blocks,
will have fewer aspects. This step also distinguishes the different study aspects


in their independence, semi- dependence and total dependence. One thing and
another of course leads firstly to the independent study and after that to the
combined or integrated study of the distinguished aspects. This hierarchy is later
also used again to combine aspects with each other in their interim and final
results. After this, the various aspects are given a (identification) number, like in
the standard schedule, or they are named. Every aspect is started with the
respective (sub) goals and evaluation criteria and, if necessary, also with the
aspect strategy. Then the distinguished aspects can begin to be looked upon as
clusters, as collections of steps belonging to each other, around a certain
aspect. In the following the characteristic steps of each aspect cluster will be
mentioned in succession.
Once more: the Organogram looks deceivingly simple, but a process of a
complicated product can hold a complex of aspect clusters, which are here
marked, for the sake of survey with the first numbers 1, 2 and 3 etc. Each cluster
consists in principle of four steps: analysis, brainstorm, ideas, synthesis and the
combination of the latter two in an aspect concept. The concepts of the various
aspects are then combined into a complete product concept (whether or not
after sub clustering in sub product concepts).
Aspect analysis: 7
The first step of an aspect cluster is to unravel the aspect until it has become a
combination of indivisible parts which are studied through literature research,
competitive examination, research of existing designs, model research and the
likes. In this phase the preliminary product concept is concerned, not yet the
final product, so these analyses do not have to be exhausting at this point. It is,
of course, also a matter of not losing the overall view, despite continuous
feedbacks. Better broad than profound is the motto here. Rather process all
aspects than leave a few (later perhaps crucial) aspects out for ignorance or
unfamiliarity. With the aspect analysis much actual information is gathered as
Brainstorm ideas: 8
It often happens in an analysis like this that a kind of research blindness occurs.
Apart from this, it happens with every long lasting study. That is why an
unceremonious brainstorm step is introduced which, taking distance of the facts
from the analysis, enables the designer or students to bring forth all sorts of
ideas, ripe or green. The usual tactics then are to have a group of students
improvise with each other and lay down all results, with the intention to judge
them only later, throw them out if need be, or to combine them. Often such a
brainstorm session is necessary to challenge unconsciously living ideas and,
with the help of the fearlessness of the one, have them filled up with the
responsive ideas of the other. Naturally it also occurs that a step like this can
only be taken after a weekend of sailing, or during a long journey when the mind
can quietly order the thoughts and is not burdened with all the heavy information
of the analysis. Sometimes a spontaneous Eureka moment occurs, a flash
which also pushes others to go on. At this step the hope of many designers and
architects is directed. Not unjustly, because this is where the creativity of the


designer has to come from. And there is always the matrix of the actual analysis
which lies at the base of the brainstorm. Brainstorming without a preceding
analysis often leads to cycling in the air. Therefore, there is an unsteady balance
between conscious and unconscious (or subconscious) steps in this process.
Designers are mostly well equipped, compared to many technicians who are
hindered by the profundity in which they work in their technical environment.
Aspect synthesis: 9
The factual information and the free flying of the brainstorm session are now
being combined by hard and creative work towards a synthesis of the aspect in
question. Here an attempt has to be made to give one or more solutions for this
aspect. Preferably more solutions, because in the course of the hereafter
following combinations many will perish because they will not be compatible with
the synthesis of other aspects.
Product concept: 10
The results of the aspect studies are laid down in individual aspect concepts.
These are now combined with each other, be it in a free form, or in a number of
clusters of aspects belonging to each other, or in a tight combination through, for
instance, a matrix where each aspect is combined with all the others. This will
produce an overdose of combinations of which many will not be practicable, or
clumsy, and others perhaps feasible or even very promising. Hopefully, a
number of combinations will come up which were never thought of before. It is,
of course, a matter of cautious handling of these combinations. All too quickly a
disapproval may occur, because it is difficult to recognize the quality of a
combination which has never been seen before. From all these combinations it
could emerge that the best does not answer to the set total requirements. In that
case it is sensible to get feedback with the now acquired knowledge for the
starting points, the analysis, the brainstorm and/or the synthesis of aspects,
before submitting to this definitively. These feedbacks lead to doing the entire
process, or a (major) part of it, all over again. These concentrical circles also
tend to show a progressive match of the total solution of the problem. It is like
swimming around in ever decreasing circles towards the buoy. A good product
concept is the factual as well as the intuitive result of studying all aspects, with
alternating degrees of success. Designing is looking for compromises.
Technical feasibility: 11
For these reasons it is good to decide now if the resulting product concept is
technically feasible. Strictly speaking it must be at this point in the process, as
this decision must not be made too early in order to not ruin potentially creative
ideas too fast. Of course it requires some enlightenment of the reviewer, in
order to prevent the feasibility of using ones everyday spectacles, and having
new glasses put in for a change. Perhaps new product techniques must be
developed, or raw materials or basic materials may need a different pretreatment than usual, and so on. It is clear, when in this stage an absolute and
final no is heard from the production department, and that after repeated
explanations and further discussions, the process should be cancelled. If it is,


however, not good enough yet, then it is logical to have yet another feedback
towards one of the previous activities in order to thoroughly study one of more
aspects for alternatives. When the result is positive, only then the next step can
be taken.
Preliminary market analysis: 12
The next step is the market, directed to comparing the resulting product concept
in the market for which the product is meant (starting point), with the market for
which it seems to be suitable (result). Are all the characteristics of the product
experienced as being positive? Are there any favourite and tolerated qualities?
What are the attractive qualities? Perhaps market segments, reacting differently
to the product, are to be distinguished. If this short feedback of the product
concept to the market is positive, or if the client (when known) is positive, then
the process can be continued.
Economical feasibility: 13
The last step in the first phase is the financial feasibility. If things were done
correctly a global cost-price was proposed in the evaluation criteria. With the
help of the proposed production techniques, belonging to the product concept,
evaluation is now possible. With technically pioneering products it is not unusual
that this economical feasibility step is moved far to the back in the process,
simply because many unacquaintances darken the sight completely. In the
building industry the sight is mostly obstructed as it is, but yet it is slightly
present. The financial allowable margins products must meet is mostly rather
limited, since it usually concerns new products which must perform in the same
manner as existing products, and those have an actual and known set price. It is
like developing an alternative with many set side-conditions. This makes the
work sometimes very fascinating, but also hazardous and disappointing. In the
case of a complete economical disappointment, the project has to be cancelled.
Sometimes hard work must be done to come to a hardly noticeable result. There
is no getting out of the way the building industry works with poor materials and
low cost-prices per mass, surface or length belonging to that, in order to result in
low cubic metre prices of the building practice as a whole. In other cases the
products are even concealed and the surplus value is merely the flexible use in
time, so in the further away future.


At the very first start of the process a marketing indication must have been
given. One does not start a product developing process without further ado. So a
global notion of the market attainability must already have been there. This
market suitability is also involved in the study at the end of the first phase. Now
that there is an elaborated concept after the first design concept phase, it is
advisable to first try the concept at the market: is this the product the market
segment is in urgent need for? Or does the product perhaps not completely
answer to the expectations of the market? Did, on the whole, something maybe
go wrong in the first phase, through which a product, as such being very


potential, was created for a totally different market than was aimed at? In such a
usually expensive product development process a keen eye has to be kept on
the goal, as well as on the evaluation criteria. This in order to not get off the
track or have a product result which can be added to the average 95% of failures
with product development.

Fig.116: Characteristic activities in Preliminary Marketing Phase

It is also imaginable that the activities of phase 2 Preliminary Marketing run

more or less parallel with the activities of phase 1. Especially when the total of
the number of weeks the process is allowed to take up is extremely short,
phases 1 and 2 would be possible to pass nearly parallel for those products for
which the marketing people know all the routines. Designers must then be
mindful that the marketing department will not start to dictate the design
department. In general a marketing vision is directed at a short term, where a
design vision has to be long term directed. Many designers are not at all amused
with marketeers.
Goals: 14
The goal of all activities in phase 2 is to control if the design concept of phase 1
meets the needs of the market, respectively if the product concept has to be
adjusted to the requirements of the market. In this phase designers must work
together with marketing people of the company, where the help of designers


often can be called in to estimate certain architectonical and building possibilities

of the market. For instance, product applications for the various building designs
of project architects who operate on the market. Besides, product designers can
get, and also take, the opportunity to anticipate on product applications under
many different architecture signatures and architectonical styles. By sketching
alternative product applications with a piece of transparent paper, on project
publications of recent buildings, it is even possible to make an architectonical
marketing analysis. Finding applications and recognizing differences in them,
naturally requires marketing skills as well as architectonical skills.
Process Assurance: 15
Like activity 5 from the first phase, process assurance enters into the
organisational and financial aspects. And here also goes that alert students must
handle their time efficiently in order to let knowledge, learning and social
education mature.
Marketing analysis: 16
An analysis of the market for the intended product has to be made. How often,
under what circumstances can it be applied, in what different performances?
Can a distinction be made of different types of buildings or through different
offtake channels? Then market segments can be mentioned, each with their own
Product-Market characteristics.
Market properties: 17
The market characteristics for which the product is thought suitable need to be
described in all their particulars and peculiarities. Distinctions must be made in
functional, building technical, architectonical and commercial aspects, and also
the approximation of the market, the accessibility, the type of determiners and
the determination hierarchy, and the geographical differences per country or
countries and continents.
Market segments: 18
The entire application market could probably be distinguished in market
segments which, in their characteristics, prominently differ from each other.
There will be strong mobile markets as well as more static markets. Market
segments are also often to be approached differently among themselves. There
will be interesting and less interesting market segments, fast to be conquered
short term markets and slowly to be penetrated long term markets.
Tactics: 19
The various market segments probably know their own determiner, or
determination hierarchies. Nature and conduct of these determiners also
arrange the most suitable manner to approach the market segment of these
determiners, via which route, by which means, people and timing. Distribution
and sales channels are also of importance. Tactics will be clearly different for the
various geographical market fields. Tactics are the philosophy of approach to get
the product to the market.


Promotion strategy: 20
When the different market segments, their determiners and the general tactics
are described, then from this follows the strategy to draw the determiners
attention to the product.
Product & Market goal: 21
With this the combinations of types and quantities of products for the various
market segments are qualified and quantified, distinguished in short, medium
and long terms in time.
Product & Market concept: 22
The characteristics of each desired type of product, in certain required qualities,
should be taken to the customers in a specific manner.
Testing product & market concept: 23
The combination of product and market as is set above, is tested for the time
being in a small circle of customers, by means of individual presentations, a
small group presentation or a presentation lecture, coupled with other events. Do
not rouse the expectation yet that the product will soon be available on the

Fig. 117: Testing a full-scale prototype as

part of the B3-modiule at the TU Delft.

Fig. 118: Testing the prototype.


Process evaluation: 24
The total process with technical and marketing aspects must be considered as
being successful, or maybe there are reasons to adjust it. Other tenderers may
have appeared on the market in the mean time. The total need for the new
product must be determined at the end of this phase.
Product & Market concept acceptability: 25
The product-market combination should have sufficient potential market
opportunities to enter the next technical phase. If not, the process should be
cancelled. If not entirely, another feedback is needed again for one or more
suitable activities before this step.


Formulation of goals: 26
After the subject of the phase is set, the goal is determined. For example: for
study module Prototype this means the further designing and developing of the
initial concept of the faade scenario up to a prototype on an actual scale,
approximately 2 x 2 metres and with the actual materials, manufactured in the
workshop by the students themselves. The prototype must be assembled as a
technical piece of work. The requirement is added that the prototype is
presentable, that it is coated and that a minimum of one glass panel is applied. It
must be transportable through access doors and it must fit in a service elevator.
At this stage a global description of the goal to be achieved, befits. This
description consists of minimal three parts:
A technical or material part in which the kernel of the product
idea is set
An economical part in which the required financial achievement
is set (numbers, price)
A marketing part in which is set what market is intended to be
Financial management: 27
At this point in the process the setting of the financial budgets is extremely
important, as there will be much energy involved in all kinds of research
activities and development activities, which in themselves are hardly calculable.
Involved in this is the investment in time for the product, of persons times the
costs of labouring hours. In the total process assurance this activity monitors all
the different development activities of phase 3.
Evaluation criteria: 28
A proper programme of requirements is, in fact, a description of the criteria the
product will have to meet. Completely different criteria can be summed up per
product. The continuous intention, especially at the end of the third phase, is the
feedback for these criteria. The criteria can be quantitative, as well as
qualitative. It is good to also distinguish stronger demands and weaker wishes.
Because a solution which does not meet a demand is not acceptable while, on


the other hand, a solution which does not meet a wish, can still be usable.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that there is a certain hierarchy in the
programme of requirements or in the list of criteria.

Fig. 119: Characteristic Prototype Development Phase.

Product market identity: 29

A realistic product development does not start just like that, with an imaginary
idea. The realistic validity must be analyzed. A suiting answer, to the assumed
question or a proven problem, has to be found for the product. For instance, for
which applications, types of buildings and architecture, for what kind of


circumstances has such an answer to be found? Do different applications, like
market segments, have to be distinguished? To what extent do these division
markets influence the qualities of the product? How will the product distinguish
itself from existing products which ought to be replaced by it? How would the
product finally be introduced at the market? How are the information flows from
the building industry? Who are the intended customers, who are the producers,
which functions in-between them can steer the usage of the product? By these
considerations the programme of demands and wishes is filled up or adjusted.
To conclude the provisional marketing phase 2, a market product identity comes
about for the time being which provides, as it were, the required image of the
product at the desired market segment. This to control that no undesirable
products are developed for other market segments which, in themselves can
perhaps be very useful. But they leave the original principal empty-handed
unless, in the mean time, the starting point has proven to have been an unjust
assumption. (If such an unintended side-product comes about, then one must
document, describe, sketch and store it for possible later elaborations in a
different field of study).
Preliminary marketing plan: 30
This will not be discussed here, because it actually comes down to a reflection
of the process activities from phase 2. It is, however, sensible to discuss it here
if that study does not catch up with this second phase. In the following activities
31 up to and including 37, a number of aspects of the design to be made will be
further explored. These activities can take place one after the other with
feedbacks, but also simultaneously with strong inter-relations. In any case, each
aspect in itself must produce a result which must be brought to a synthesis in
activity 38. In general it will not be sensible to choose a material in activity 31, to
only study the production possibilities of that material in activity 35, and so on
and so forth. All activities have strong inter-relations. Analysis separates the
different aspects, but cannot be without the synthesis of once more assembling
and combining.
Material research: 31
For the chosen subject and design follows, initially, the research of the most
suitable materials. They are compared to one another by chemical
characteristics, physical characteristics of the separate elements, the
components, as well as the capability of combining them. This study activity is
processed simultaneously with the production research and the technical
research. The chosen most suitable materials are then once again and far more
thoroughly gone over for their chemical and physical qualities. The preference
approach is not bottom-up: starting with the chemical structure, up to the
component, but rather a top-down approach from the design: by firstly specify
the behaviour of the product in question in the shape of a component, then that
of the sub components and subsequently to come to the material qualities of
these elements themselves.


Fig. 121: Material research for the

Cardboard Dome: tensile rupture at bolt

Fig. 120: Material research for the IJburg

Cardboard Dome at Octatube.

Technical shape research: 32a

The hierarchy between element, sub component and component must be
explored in the shape which arises from a certain material and certain production
techniques, to be used for a specific function. Continuous reasoning has to be
done here from small to large, from element to component, from building part to
building, and the other way around from large to small. The relation between
product and architecture has to be studied in depth at this point.
Technical assembly research: 32b
This is the exploring of the way in which the various elements are connected into
a sub component and the way in which several sub components are connected
into a component, which perhaps in its turn influences, as a super- component,
the shape of the separate building parts, the means and methods of connection
and the resulting manifestations. Transport has its influence in the form of
limitations of weight and sizes, hoisting points and possible transport
reinforcements, while the hoisting crane can also have its influence. Sometimes
specific mounting methods can have a dominating influence on the appearance.


Fig. 122: Site assembled top part of the cardboard dome (by Octatube).

Fig. 123: The top part of the dome hoisted on a frame of steel I-profiles.


Fig. 124: Assembly of the top part of the dome to the lower part and its frame.

Fig. 125: The result before the membrane is applied.


Production research: 33
The raw material is usually in bulk and out of reach of the designer, outside the
building industry, purified and transformed into material. The material is
transformed into usually standard marketable, intermediary products, in
professional language normally called semi-products or pre-manufactured
product (in the view of the processor, one step before him in the product
hierarchy . Metal window-frames are, for instance, called basic profiles. In the
case of window-frames there are, fitting in extended window-frame systems,
assortments of basic profiles in the available materials of wood, steel, aluminium
and PVC. They can be used as a starting point for further development,
respectively serve as examples to design and develop an entirely new series of
profiles. The question which has to be answered first and foremost is how many
running metres window-frame profile of a certain section will be used in the
future. For the various materials the material costs and mechanical writings-off
with the production of the basic profiles are very different. The ascending line
from low to very high shares in the production costs per m1 profile, respectively
the economical attainability of small to very large series in wood, aluminium,
steel and PVC. These production techniques are about basic profiles. In the
further processing of these basic profiles into elements a choice must be made
from a number of processing techniques which are specific for the material and
for the desired element shape. Although the material is normally strictly limited,
the number of processing techniques is large and the number of element shapes
(= the result) is, if possible, even greater. But it is ever clear that the product
designer draws a great amount of inspiration from the product techniques.
Knowledge of the facts is therefore indispensable and essential when new
product techniques must be contrived to obtain special process effects. Here, the
definite relation between basic material & production techniques & element
shape is laid down.
Here could also be considered the various production techniques, as yet
unknown to the building industries but surely in vogue with other industries, like
car, bus, train and aircraft industries. In mechanical or civil engineering these
are: gluing, laminating and casting.
Application research: 34
The three main types of building products, namely: standard products, system
products and special products all have a different, yet clear relation with the
application of products in the building industry. Standard products can either be
put into practice in many applications without alterations, or not be applied at all.
System products need a game of question and answer to get their qualities filled
in per project. Special products only exist in separate projects. Therefore, the
influence of the project architect runs from zero, via partly, to fully. The
mentioned main types of products are, to project architects, closed, half open
or open. Applications, in their turn, can thus have a very penetrating influence
on product development. In fact, an amount of technical and architectonical
marketing sinks in here, at the level of the development process. The study of
various application environments is in this phase of the project important enough
to already give an advance on the multi-launching of the product system, in


order to do research on the various locations for the project product. On the
other hand, a standard product in a varying context or country environment, can
also have an ever surprising effect. Imagine a new car, photographed in the
Sahara desert or in the snow. The application research of the ready to hand
standard product is seen through the glasses of the product designer on the
producing side.
Design prototype: 35a
Out of the combined facts of the designing research activities of phases 34 up to
and including 37, follows a prototype design. Perhaps a couple of times
feedbacks have to be made for preceding activities (especially the technical
research activities, but also the objectives and product market identity are selfevident), extensively described, sketched, further drawn and elaborated at the
level of workshop drawings. In this phase (the synthesis) all the gathered
knowledge must in a creative manner lead to a design. Remember that most
innovations prove to be essentially new combinations of already existing or
familiar techniques!
Building prototype: 35b
Depending on the type of product a decision must be made in which form, scale,
size and materials the prototype will be built. The prototype serves, in first
instance, as a control of the design and development process for the product
designer, in second instance as a confrontation model for the market or the
principal. Ideally a functioning prototype is made on an actual scale with the
intended materials in the manner of the workshop, but to do this in many cases
the room, time and budget may be lacking. In that case it is better to
manufacture crucial details, or to make a product on a somewhat smaller scale,
respectively a form model on a full scale in non-realistic materials.
Testing and evaluating the prototype: 36
In the workplace, the factory or the laboratory performance experiments can now
be carried out on the prototype. If the prototype is of an actual size, in actual
materials and assembled in a final manner (independent of the fact if it is
manufactured by the definite production technique), then it must be possible to
carry out a global performance experiment, with sufficient profoundness to have
feedback for the functioning of the prototype at design level. Concerning the
quality of this test simple devices must be considered, ran through with common
sense in a short time. The aim of testing, if it concerns a technically challenging
prototype at least, is to be able to view the reliability of the prototypes behaviour
with relatively little effort, roughly for 80%. In a more accurate situation
(laboratory) the remaining 20% is intended. Since by this more is done in the
depths of the research, a more sophisticated equipment is needed than that of
the workshop. After this phase follows, as a rule, a feedback again for preceding
phases if they do not sufficiently meet the set criteria.


Cost price calculation: 37

Estimating the necessary costs of a zero series, a small series or a large series
of identical products after the model of the prototype. Dividing the costs into the
costs of the preparation traject, the production traject and those of the sales
traject. This is done in order to actually sell the products, to get an adequate
sense of these mutual relations. Then a comparison of the resulting cost price +
margin = market price with the market price of the intended products to be
replaced by the new product. Finally the drawing of the conclusion, in relation to
the financial feasibility at the market, of the new product.
Prototype acceptability: 38
The prototype should answer to the specified expectations and to the specified
Prototype evaluation: 39
The manufactured prototype is evaluated according to the initial evaluation
criteria (see activity 31). These are ranged in the order of functional,
architectonical, technical and economical criteria. The measure of fulfilling these
criteria is set, so is the possible non-fulfilment and the reasons behind this. It will
be determined if the prototype will sufficiently meet the specified expectations.
Next to that there is also a feedback for the provisional marketing and the
product market identity.
Process evaluation: 40
The entire process route is evaluated, besides the individual final results of
activity 42. One and another is set and presented by students to module
attendants and the external viewers in a, to them, convincing manner.
Approval of progression: 41
In the study situation the study attendance is responsible for the approval of
progressing into a next phase. The management of the company for which the
product is developed will, on a basis of the technical results from the preceding
activities and with a feedback for the provisional marketing phase 2, occupy
themselves with the progression of the project. If the opinion is not entirely
positive, then perhaps a feedback for further activities of phase 3 may follow.
When the approval is granted, the following activities are those of the definite
marketing from phase 4. If the management is of the opinion that the process
must be stopped, then a reflection on the market position of the prototype
product in activity 42 will follow first, before the plan is postponed, put away or
thrown away and all costs are written off.
Continuation of marketing: 42
This phase will only be ran through if the managements opinion is that the
project has to be stopped. It is to be considered as a summary of the definite
marketing activities: are the data of the provisional marketing still correct for the
now developed product? For there is a great chance that the technical product
development and the marketing plan pulled a totally different track. The


marketing opportunities of the developed prototype must be evaluated. This

activity does not have to be processed when the management agrees with the
continuation of the process, since the fourth phase holds a far more extensive
set of marketing activities.


After the product is further developed up to the prototype stage, and so physical
examples of the product can be shown, photographed or filmed for
presentations, the fourth development phase sets in: the definite marketing. In
the second phase, with the data of the concept design, there already has been a
provisional exploration of the market reaction to the concept product. It is, by the
way, not unusual that the marketing phases are not linearly linked together after
the technical development phases, but with an (partly) overlapping, where the
danger of marketing pressure and force from the marketing department towards
the product development, holds a risk for a balanced development. In view of the
second phase, preliminary marketing, which is a requiring one, the fourth phase
is a more determining one.

Fig. 126: Characteristic activities in Final Marketing phase.



Goals 4 phase: 43
The goal of the fourth phase is threefold. Firstly, the product related activities to
definitely determine which possible production methods will be suitable to use
(internally and/or externally) to have the product manufactured. Then to
determine the resulting cost price and to be able to make the final choice of
production. Secondly, the prototype related activities to definitely determine the
marketing opportunities of the prototype product. And thirdly, the marketing
related activities to make a marketing plan with a strategy to introduce the
product at the market, to have it conquer a place and keep it.
Financial management: 44
A budget has to be estimated, time-planning and staffing must be scheduled, as
well as external costs be estimated or offered if a part of the activities are
executed by others than ones own staff. These activities together form the
process assurance of phase 4.
Production techniques: 45
The possible production techniques are now being definitely studied for the
component parts, the sub assembling techniques for the joining of elements into
sub components and the assembling techniques to manufacture components
from elements and subcomponents. Also the transport possibilities and the
super assemblies at the building-site, being the mounting, installing and finishing
at the building-site, also are a part of this.
Building prototypes for marketing: 46
A number of prototypes have to be built now in order to present them on the
market. This must be done in a manner which makes a sensible presentation
possible, and which must bring in enough data for a final marketing plan to be
based on. The making of presentation material, like photos, videos, presentation
folders of the prototype with possible application varieties and sufficient technical
support, is part of this activity as well.
Cost-price evaluation: 47
From the data of the most suitable production methods of activity 45 and the
required materials and series sizes, a cost price calculation for the product can
be set up. The marketing activity 48 will give the reaction to the market price, so
that the profitableness of the product can be viewed.
Test market reaction: 48
From the presentation of the prototypes in a physical form or in the shape of
images with descriptions, personally (visits), as a group (part of the day
presentation in a symposium manner or such) or per branch (exchange
introduction), reactions of potentional consumers can be recorded. These
persons are approached after a hierarchy is set of the route which the decisions
concerning the whether or not applying of the product will follow. For instance,
firstly the project architect as the determiner of the type of product, then the
principal for the sake of the product budget, after that the building costs adviser


and possibly a building management office which once more controls the quality
and price for the client. After the tendering and contract awarding it is mostly the
main contractor who is allowed a semi-autonomous decision as to which of the
competitive offers he will agree. He will do so in the knowledge that the architect
(sometimes) has a preference and he will be thinking of his own profit position.
In this stage the subcontractor or producer are rather often financially squeezed
out, without the initial determiners knowing about this, or can do anything about
it. To the architect only a management position holds a greater say.
Positive reaction: 49
The marketing test as mentioned in activity 48, which can be processed on
various market segments, is evaluated. If an insufficient success is scored, a
feedback can take place for the activity in phase 3: which seems the most
sensible, or the most probable. If an absolute negative reaction follows, then a
reconsidering of the progression of the development project must take place, or
a reconsideration of the market segments and the determiners. Perhaps the
manner of presentation has to be altered, or a better occasion must be waited
for, in order to create the chance that potential clients can reflect better or more
profoundly on this. If the reaction is positive, as is suspected, then activity 51
can be entered.
Choice of adequate production: 50
From the surveys of the most suitable production methods, plus the tenderings
and the suitability of side producers or subproducers to perfect the product
simultaneously (co-makers with technical assistance and high-standing),
follows the definite choice of production techniques and production routes. Some
of these choices have an artistic design consequence which has to be related to
the market reaction, for instance the replacement of a fluently shaped casting by
a cheaper, but more angular mechanically manufactured component.
Determination of final product: 51
From the feedback of the market reaction, the cost price determination, the
market price determination and the final production techniques, follows the final
determination of the product.
Final marketing strategy: 52
Now that the product is final, the market and market segments are known, the
routes and hierarchies of decisions have been scheduled, the marketing plan
must be rounded off with the marketing strategy. This must map out how, where,
to whom, when and with what the product will be introduced to the great
(professional) public. The first activities have to be determined, the following
ones and the safety net activities when something threatens to go wrong. It must
be considered if there will be an introduction at a large scale, or rather a more
project directed one, or a pilot project with substantial reductions to ensure the
entrance to the market.


Product evaluation: 53
Yet again the definite product with the definite marketing plan is evaluated, in the
presence of the management, the technical developing team, the marketing
staff, the production staff and anyone who later on must spend their energy to
make the product a successful one.
Approval of the management: 54
As a summary of the preceding evaluation, the management will have to give
the sign to enter the fifth phase of the actual production. This go ahead in the
car industry holds the starting sign to mostly extended investments. For less
specific products, like in general in the building industry, normally the aim is to
making the most of an existing machine fleet with a couple of additions.



Formulation goals 5 phase: 55

The fifth phase consists of a first production, whether or not directed at a specific
project. This is seen as the final test of the technical product, plus the market
reaction. Also the definite production of the product which can be launched after
this is a part of it.
Financial management: 56
The financial and organizational management must be accommodated in the
regular management tasks of the company in this phase. They should no longer
be a separate development process watching. In this phase even the test
production is considered to be a part of the factory production, with all aspects
connected with it.
First product application (zero series): 57
This activity consists of the production and application of the first, whether or not
paid for, test production, which needs to be attended with the necessary care of
the technical development team and with the gentle assistance of the marketing
Reactions of clients: 58
As a feedback after the first zero series application of the product at an actual
scale and in a building, the reactions of the clients are once again gauged and
viewed, in order to find if these reactions bring about any alterations in the
product-marketing plan.
Production plan: 59
The final production environment is organized as an alteration in the lay-out of
the existing production. Or only the assembly room is reserved. If the production
of elements takes place outside and only the assembly takes place inside, or a
new facility is being created, with all the architectural, financial and social
consequences involved. Location and logistics of production and transport also
must be determined in this phase.


Acceptable results: 60
The results of the clients evaluation of the first zero series application are likely
to be positive. If not, the product, the market, the strategy or anything else must
be adjusted. It seldom occurs that no feedbacks for preceding activities are
needed at this point. However, with a skilfully directed process the loops will be

Fig. 127: Characteristic activities for Product Manufacturing.


Start of production: 61
The actual production is started with a small and slow running up or an approach
at a larger scale if the management and/or clients ask for it. Also this activity will
require an Organogram of different activities as such, a discipline which should
follow from the discipline derived from the following of this Organogram. The
matter will not be further discussed here.
Sale of first application: 62
The contract for the first official commission of an entirely paid-for product. The
clients are either or not informed of the fact that they are the first consumers.
First application: 63
The producing of the first product application shows for the first time all the
subactivities which have to be ran through to get the product eventually
delivered. This single activity 63 consists in itself of dozens of subactivities.
Engineering application: 64
For system products an input of engineering activities will be necessary in order
to prepare the product application. For that matter, a different Organogram for
system products is in existence, including a system design level and a system
applications level. The system application needs engineering.
Production and assembly: 65
The actual production of elements, assembly of elements into components and
subcomponents, and the assembly of elements en subcomponents into
components. After transportation to the building-site the super assembly, the
mounting and/or the installation and the finishing off takes place there.
Alterations: 66
From the first application the need for alterations of the product, the process, the
marketing or anything else may come forth.
Improvements: 67
The supplied suggestions are being studied, with feedback for the responsible
persons and carried through as improvements of the product, the production
process or the marketing.
Start of official sale and production: 68
The official sale and production can now get started via the, in the mean time,
set linear organization, the dealer net or whatever route: producer - sub
contractor - main contractor - principal.
Launching the product: 69
This is the starting signal for all sorts of activities concerning an adapted
publicity campaign and all that is necessary, according to the marketing plan to
get the production going and keep it going.




System products are intended to be applied to several projects and in an ever

somewhat differing form by the different fillings up of certain parameters. As a
system, it needs to possess certain qualities to be acknowledged as a good
product in the open variations, to be filled in per project and/or project architect.
Sufficient freedom must be present to give each individual filling up a certain
degree of self, or a project colour. Therefore, this is the first meaning of the word
system. The second meaning comes from the side of industrial production
(Mechanical Engineering), which rather quickly calls a product a system when it
is built up from different components, specifically components with a different
function in the whole. Because of the scale size of the building industry, all
products are almost systems in this respect, and this will not take the terms of
distinction much further. It is clear that two different levels are discussed in the
development process of building systems:
the system level
the application level
The individual phases are therefore accommodated in two levels:

Fig.128: System products are regarded in two different levels: system design level and system
application level.

System Concept
Provisional Marketing
Prototype Development
Project Concept
Project Prototype
Product Fabrication


In fact the customer and his demands are laid down (final marketing) in the
fourth phase, and in the fifth phase the prototype is adapted to the specific
project. This case as a system product is chosen as an illustration of the usage
of design methods for building components. The example concerns the design
process on behalf of an earthquake-proof frameless glazing system Quattro SR
for the Japanese market.
State of the art: 1
From 1988 the designing of large frameless glass panels for roofs and walls in
buildings has the attention of Octatube. Starting from the knowledge of and the
insight in spatial structures, which could be realized ever more fragile and
refined in the course of time, arose the motivation to replace metal elements by
glass elements which, apart from a sealing function (as is usual with glass), also
could perform a supporting function for a greater part. After the first prototype
from 1988 followed the definite design and the development of the frameless
glazing of the Glazen Muziekzaal in the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, after
an idea of the architect Pieter Zaanen. This led to a drastically simplified
realization of the structural system, where all steel elements were welded and
the stabilizing tensile system was not constructed at both sides of the glass, but
inside the glass faade. This was an architecturally considered decision. On the
outside a smooth glass building volume would come about with all the
mechanisms in the inside. The building up experience from previous mock-ups
had been a lesson that a one-sided erection was far more easy to assemble. In
the spring of 1990 the Glass Music Hall in Amsterdam was opened. The author
still considers this a design with a successful mixture of an architectural concept,
spatial positioning, choice of materials, detailing and a very renovating jump
forward in the technique of structural loaded glass at the time. This came about
thanks to clear headwork, continuous optimalizing of the design at the drawingboard, experimenting with glass/steel joints in the authors factory laboratory and
a careful, but systematic mounting sequence. The 8 mm glass panels hang one
under the other as a literal glass curtain and this concept proved to have no
problems at all. The Glass Music Hall was designed to be built in the former
Berlages Exchange in Amsterdam where no high demands were yet made upon
withstanding atmospherical wind, rainwater or snow loading. The philosophy
was to avoid a too big or complex experiment and to enrich, step by step every
time, a growing technology with a new technical aspect (incremental product
development). The steel glass connector was welded from a number of strip
elements and solid rod elements into a rigid component. Next to that also a pullloaded stabilizing system was developed, which in principle was capable of
resisting wind pressure and wind sucking, as well as asymmetrical and
antimetrical wind loads, as they arise with wind whirls against a faade. It was
known that the application of such, only 10 mm. tensile bars, built up from
vertical stabilizing tensile trusses, was also depending on the rigidness of the
foundation, but also and especially of the roof. Because of the great pulling
power the tensile trusses exercised on the surrounding structure (that is to say
foundation or roof structure) a high amount of rigidity was required in the substructure. In many following design commissions this problem came up again.


Occasion and commission: 2

In 1991 Octatube received, through the glass faade builder John Hui of
Reliance Control Ltd. from Hong Kong, who had read the publications on the
Glass Music Hall, a request for two high glass faades in the Citicorp skyscraper,
designed by the architect Rocco Yim from Hong Kong, to be built right next to
the Bank of China of I.M. Pei. The ground floor lobby should become 32 metres
high and on both ends of the lobby a frameless glass faade should have to be
designed and realized. The width of the two glass faades was 10 and 12
metres. The vertical stabilization system of the Glass Music Hall with the
counterformed tensile rods was also used here. But adjusted, in a horizontally
instead of vertically arrangement, to the enormous windload in Hong Kong
because of occurring typhoons. The effective load inside the Glazen Zaal was
0,3 kN/m, but in Hong Kong this wind effective load was raised to 5,25 kN/m. In
Western Europe 0,75 to 1,1 kN/m is usual. So, in essence, the system remained
the same, the depth of the tensile bars in the truss grew and the bars were
actually realized as double bars: 2 x 27 mm stainless steel, instead of 1 x 10 mm
Fe in Amsterdam. The Quattro connector was enlarged from 200 x 200 mm bolt
distance to 250 x 250 mm with wider elements, but actually it was an enlarged
model of the connector in the Glass Music Hall. The hanging of glass panels one
under the other, where the top panel is loaded with its own weight of 9 metres
high glass in 5 panels of 1,8 metres, was considered unfeasible in Hong Kong: a
vertical row of 16 panels of 2 metres high would mean an intolerable step across
the shear forces of the bolt connection and shear force at the glass hole edges.
That is why vertical suspension bars were introduced which could, independent
of the wind stabilization system, catch the self-weight per glass panel to the top
and lead it up to the upper structure at 32 metres height. The separation of
vertical and horizontal loadings had now become a more often occurring

Fig.129: Installing the glass panels.


Fig. 130: Bamboo scaffolding for the Citicorp skyscraper in Hongkong.


Fig. 131: Interior view of the glass faade after completion.


The methodology of designing and building in Hong Kong was modelled upon
British methodology: British norms were maintained. Besides, American
expertise with the realization of skyscrapers was used. For the faade an
American specification was applied, completed with a statically and dynamically
loaded full-sized mock-up for a representative part of the glass faade. These
loading tests were carried out in the TNO Laboratory in Delft. The mock-up
consisted of three glass panels high and five panels width with two horizontal
trusses, so that at least one row of panels could be tested under realistic
conditions. Around this faade fragment an airtight case was built in which
effective pressure and sub pressure could be generated. Together with the water
spraying device this would be the maximum test loading. The first test failed just
before the climax of the 5,25 kN/m was reached, because at 5,0 kN two glass
panels of 2 x 2 metres exploded by the aroused effective pressure. The pieces of
glass were lying 15 metres away in the laboratory!
Fortunately, analysis afterwards proved that the ledge fastening at the
plywood of the case did not have a sufficient quality and that neither the glass
system, nor the glass was the cause.
The glass was supplied by the
Japanese company Central Glass, the third
in size float glazing manufacturer. The glass
consisted of 19 mm float glass panels in
opti-white, a low iron oxide and therefore
colourless realization of clear float glass,
with four holes at 150 x 150 mm from the
angles for the fastening. It was this
Japanese producer who invited Octatube, in
spite of the failing of the first test, to further
develop the rigid Quattro system especially
for the Japanese market, in order to make it
specifically resistant to the occurring
earthquakes over there. For that matter, the
second test passed with flying colours and is
therefore not really a study object.
Something similar is described in Karl
Sabbaghs book Skyscraper, the Making of
a Building [20], in which an extended
analysis is made of the failure of a mock-up
test, while the testing afresh did not bring in
new data of scientific interest.
The negotiations about the contents
of the commission, the exact formulation
and the prices took six months. The
Japanese principals proved to be very
scrupulous, took proper time to prepare their
management decisions and remained polite
and reliable. For the first time in Octatubes
existence, know-how was bought and a
Fig. 132: Design concept phase.


planning was made beforehand of the

development of the new Quattro SR connector
with three realizations of prototypes of 6 x 10
metres in a row. And all that when nobody had
any idea yet of how the connector was going
to look! Central Glass probably thought that
Octatube knew but was not yet willing to open
up, like Japanese would do themselves. But
Octatube really had no idea and so ran a great
risk with the cost estimation. After this long
introduction this case now begins to become
interesting to this monograph.
With reference to the Organogram and
the included activities, the following activities
have been ran through.
Goal: 3
The first consideration in the product
developing process is the goal: the
development of a suitable joint system in
frameless glazing for application in Japan,
among other things characterized by its
conservative technical design work. The
developed Quattro SR system would, by an
especially to be established subdepartment of
Central Glass Flat Sheet Glass Department,
be capable of being engineered for various
projects in Japan.
Strategy: 4
Although Central Glass had the producing of
float glass as a kernel activity and therefore,
with the establishment of a sub department for
the Quattro SR project, would enter into
competition with their own clients, the idea
also was to not stay behind with Asahi Glass
who had adopted the RFR system (Rice,
Francis, Ritchie), and with Nippon Sheet Glass
who had concluded a licence agreement with
Pilkington. The adaptation and adjustment of
the third European system seemed an
opportunity to obtain, with relatively little
energy and investment, an accommodation for
the Japanese market. Octatube could do the

Fig. 133: Development of



development of Quattro SR, with the assistance of skilled technologists of the

Flat Glass Department. Octatube would play an active part in the first projects
with the engineering of project applications. After the initial learning period, also
the engineering in Japan could gradually be done. In order to convince the slow
and conservative bureaucracy internally, a Quattro mock-up would be built first
in the European version, after that a mock-up in the first SR prototype version
and then a building-in in the, for this purpose especially to be built, testroom at
the factory grounds of Central Glass. During the entire development process a
continuous contact would be kept with one or more potential clients as
representatives of the partly unknown industrial market of architects and
contractors. From the beginning there was also a pilot project on hand: the
faades of the Seiroko Hospital in Tokyo.
Evaluation criteria: 5
A frameless glazing system, consisting of single glass (whether or not
laminated), with industrially manufactured connectors which could also resist
earthquakes loadings, to be applied to glass faades and glass roofs according
to the Japanese regulations, flexible enough for local engineering and inspiring
enough to be used by Japanese architects, with a lower cost-price than the two
known systems of RFR and Pilkington, and a technical build-up which would be
Process Assurance: 6
The cooperation agreement between Central Glass and Octatube resulted in a
lump sum payment for the transfer of know-how, a payment for the developing of
the Quattro SR connector and for various prototypes which would be locally
assembled, as well as an engineering fee for the pilot project. The contract
made good for a development period of two years. The project was meticulously
carried out within the set term. The prototypes, the tests and the pilot project
were realized and the terms were invoiced and received according to the
agreement, after a development period of two years. For the Quattro SR system
a worldwide joint patent is applied for, with Central Glass as the owner for the
Far East and Octatube for the rest of the world.
Know-how transfer: 7
Parallel with the developing work, realized in the engineering department of
Octatube, the author wrote a monograph Guyed Structures in Glass and Steel,
a book on Quattro Glass, of which there are only two copies with the then state
of technology in the field of frameless glazing as a basis for the transfer of
knowledge and insight. Besides, in a number of three visits, one-day seminars
were given by the author for a gathering of co-operators from different
departments of Central Glass. Central Glass has not yet released the
information in the monograph for publication.


Five main aspects: 8

Five main aspects were distinguished, leading to a number of five aspect
studies, each divided into:
Aspect analysis
Aspect brainstorm
Aspect synthesis
Aspect concept
after which the different aspect concepts were made fit for one another to
become a product concept by engineering a number of corrections and additions
for the five aspects studies in feedbacks for and to the different activities.
The five aspect clusters were:
Geometry roofs and faades
Earthquake loadings
Glass panels
Glass panels connectors
Tensile stabilizations
Roofs and faades: 8.1
In the building industry experiments hardly ever occur, because possible
experiments are entirely carried out by the large building companies under their
own control, are extensively tested and only after proven success and reliability
are they realized. Flat glass frameless roofs are not known in Japan, but space
frames with conventional sawtooth roofs on them, are. The Netherlands have, in
the mean time, realized both various subtended frameless glass roofs and spatial
panels with frameless coverings of glass panels. Combined with the fact that
earthquake loadings in buildings have mainly horizontal movements as a result,
the resulting roof concept, that roofs as independently built panels should be
conceived with a great horizontal rigidity, laid on some kinds of wheels which
make it possible for the building part roof to make a disc-shaped movement on
the pillars or layings. Some of these layings should be steady in certain directions,
with elastic dampers to take care of the roofs not to shove from the pillars. The
concept is like that of an aeroplane of which one wheel is tied to the ground.
Vertical faades do not know problems, by the nature of the silicone filled joints
between the glass panels, perpendicular in the glass plane: every seam is, as it
were, a hinge line. But in the lateral direction, in the plane of the panels, moves
the main support structure of the building, in Japan mainly consisting of vertical
pillars and horizontal floors. These double-sided clasped pillars move more than
pillars with vertical wind bracings, not desirable from an architectural point of
view. The traditional Japanese glass faades allow the individual glass panels
sufficient room in the usually generously dimensioned (read: bulky) window-frame
mullions and transoms. The very elegant frameless glass faades meet, in
principle, the problem of absorbing the horizontal lateral movements in the
sealant joints, which must now, next to being wind and waterproof, also be very
deformable. From a production-technical and structural point of view single glass
panels must never be chosen larger than 2,1 x 2,1 metres, fastened at four
points, with which also the maximum modulation of the faade is established. The
glass panel in the roof is usually smaller, with an optimum between 1,5 metres


and 1,8 metres, when long lasting snow loadings and high Summer temperatures
arise. From a material-technical point of view glass panels are isotropic in the
plane of the glass panel and they have the same material characteristics in X and
Y direction and therefore a square modulation/panel size is preferred. But in some
projects horizontal glass panels, and in other projects vertical glass panels, will be
called for.
Earthquake loadings: 8.2
Japanese regulations were analysed, as well as the knowledge of earthquakes,
among others in the United States. Earthquake loadings act mostly horizontally
in high buildings. That is to say that vertical buildings have a great horizontal
movement deflection in their less rigid direction. The last earthquake, which
destroyed the city centre of Kobe, has also manifested itself in vertical

Fig. 134: Deformation of glass faade in high-rise building during earthquake.

Glass panels: 8.3

In all applications of Quattro main material components are found. The glass
panels can be manufactured from single glass, laminated glass and from joint
panels, usually double glass. Each glass panel can be manufactured as float
glass, semi pre-strained or completely pre-strained, realized in clear glass, or
low iron oxide, in mass tinted, coated or screened. The gauge of the glass
panels is usually a function of the panel dimensions and the loadings (wind,
snow, self-weight, persons and vandalism loadings). The panel dimensions


come from the design of the roof, or the wall, the stabilization system, the
required subdivision and economical optimalisation. Single glass applications
were highly preferred: laminated in roofs, single in low walls and laminated in
higher walls, especially when the walls on ground-floor level contain emergency
exits. The glass panels are, in all cases, fully tempered and have undergone an
additional heatsoak-test in order to minimize the possibility of spontaneous
cracking caused by nickel sulphide enclosures. Central Glass have the skill to
supply completely pre-strained glass panels of even 2 x 2 metres with a gauge
of 12, 15 or 20 mm with a safety panel of 3 mm float glass. As a means of
sealing the panels a chemical neutral silicone sealing, with a very high elasticity,
preferably in black or, if translucently realized in a UV-light stable realization.
Glass panel connectors: 8.4
Glass panel joints can be based upon an orthogonal panel division or such a
one with divergent angles in X, Y and Z direction. The dimensions of the glass
panels and the loadings influence the strength of the joint. The joint itself can be
manufactured in aluminium, steel or stainless steel and can be cast, welded,
rotated or manufactured in a combination of these manners of manufacturing.
The fastening of the glass panel joint to the (double) glass panel can be realized:
double mechanically
semi mechanically, semi chemically
double chemically
respectively single glass panels:
These differences in material fastenings lead to a number of characteristic
details. The preference was for the most orthodox of these connections: the
entirely bolted joint. Actually, on this aspect cluster glass panel connector most
of the energy is spent in the design & engineering phase. After the effect of
earthquakes mainly in a horizontal direction became clear, the conclusion for
faades was that the glass panels should be coupled horizontally into a rigid
coupled row, while vertically directed the rows on top of one another should be
able to move across with regards to one another. The initial idea was to split up
the Quattro connector into two Duo-wings. Because of the extant of the RFR
system, which has an H-shape and the familiar X-shape of Quattro, the H-shape
could not be used. The two Duo-wings, therefore, would have the shape of two
Vs, moving in a reflection position with regards to one another. Initially the idea
was to make a horizontal groove in the centre around which the upper-V could
move with regards to the lower-V. However, because of the X-shape the
connectors appearance remained unacceptable. With this principle it was
simply not possible to compose the shape of the knot properly. It would work,
though, although a damper mechanism was lacking. The second idea was to
manufacture a two-axes hinge point, so that the centre of the connector could
topple around the central axis, as it were, and so the two upper points, with
regards to the two lower points, could be moved horizontally. This principle was
worked out in a number of different models, first drawn, then realized in the form
of steel real size models and these were presented to the principal.


Stabilizers: 8.5
The stabilizing tensile structure can be a part of the
building, in that case it is usually a part of the
concrete structure, or a separate support structure
for the faade or the roof. Although in general
slender, steel stabilizers are chosen, which do not
undo the effect of frameless glazing, or even
strengthen it. There are roughly three categories to
be distinguished [10]:
x Mass-active systems: beams, columns on
x loading
x Vector-active systems: truss girders,
Vierendeel girders and arched girders of
which the parts alternately are loaded on
tension or compression
x Form-active structures: domes, mainly on
compression, tensile trusses and cable
structures on pure tension
The client was the most interested in the tensile
trusses which were built up and developed from
solid round bars in the shape of welded or bolted
tensile truss structures as a passively post-stressed
counterpart of the actively stressed cable structures
of RFR and Ove Arup. The mother of the frameless
glass structures, was developed in the Eighties by
Peter Rice et al for the glazed Serres of Cit des
Sciences et de lIndustrie at La Vilette, Paris. An
admirable step forward, which justly got much
attention in the architectural press. However, it was
financially unfeasible for the situation in The
Netherlands at the time. From that arose the
motivation for the authors Quattro systems, being
developed from 1988. They could do with less prestress, a greater rigidity and lower reaction forces
on the adjacent concrete structures with more

Fig. 135: Different

connection glass / Quattro

Technical feasibility: 9
Continuously the interim results were reported by Rob Bakker, structural
designer at Octatube, to Mr. Suzuki, the project engineer of Central Glass. The
exchanged faxes gave evidence of concurrent engineering, a very inspiring and
constructive simultaneously carried out engineering at two different levels, with
sufficient respect and involvement to be open-minded for one another, as well as
for continuous suggestions.


Fig. 136: Serres of La Vilette,

Paris. Architect:
Engineering: RFR.

Fig.137: Detail of Serres

of La Vilette.


In general concurrent engineering, in order to shorten the time of developing in

one company with short lines between the various involved departments, is an
excellent way of working to increase the general efficiency and speed for product
development. Octatube became big by it. But simultaneous working with
companies out of doors always brings along the problem of hierarchy and the set
fees. When two parties with independent fees, of which one hierarchically can
dominate the other, work simultaneously at a parallel development route, always
one party comes off a loser, does not get paid for its efforts and can do things
once again for the same fee to please the dominant party. In situations like these
it becomes the recessive party to await what the dominant party will think up or
command, with which the principle of concurrent engineering with the inherent
time-saving is thrown overboard.
In the case of Quattro SR Octatube was paid by the hour during the
development work, so there was no negative pressure about that. In Octatubes
experience, the almost parallel or overlapping progress of the development work
in connection with architectonical, structural and industrial designing, has always
been realized with a very short beam chart time-planning, in comparison with the
beam chart planning where independent companies wait for one another. When
all professionals work under the same roof, five minutes in another room mean
an increasing efficiency to oneself, or the opportunity to anyway think up new
concepts and have these quickly commented upon in a first global round by the
various experts of the company, after which the concept is improved, enters the
dialogue again etc. until eventually it comes to an apparently realistic result.
In the practice of the usual building projects in The Netherlands
concurrent engineering is normally a financial disaster because of the
hierarchical impulses, with everybody waiting passively for full instructions.
When these are lacking, a claim for extra time is justifiable. In Germany this
climate of claiming time leads to building processes with daggers drawn. But this
negative spiral must, in the future, be broken through more often, on penalty of
buildings remaining assemblies of standard or familiar system components. The
technical innovation has then irreversibly died without a struggle.
Preliminary market analysis: 10
The first market analysis is usually done before the initiative is taken to start a
new product developing process. Product development is usually a management
matter and the management must have the market information at hand with the
viewing of its significance.
One of the evaluation factors after the product concept has been finished
is naturally the market again: is this a suitable answer to the market? The
relation between the shape and the realization of the Quattro connectors
concept, the estimated cost-price and the reaction of particularly the architect of
the pilot project, was the topic of the discussion here. The Japanese architect
was of the opinion that the proposed nodal point design had to be of even
smaller dimensions, after which all the hidden mechanisms were suddenly
entirely revealed and the connector, in principle, had to follow a similar external
mechanism as the RFR connector.


The architect was enthusiastic about the preliminary result. Other architects
were approached by the sales department of Central Glass with an identical
result. At this small scale the first confrontation with the market gave motivation
enough to move on at the taken road.
Economical feasibility: 11
After the functional, technical and architectonical evaluation was done, the costprice estimation for the pilot project was made by means of a cost estimation for
the manufacturing of the project engineering for the pilot project and of the
material nodal connectors, as well as for the glass and the assembly. This
turned out to be three times as high as in comparable Dutch projects, but for
Central Glass this was no reason to not continue. The building costs of the
prototype building in Japan are 100 to 200% higher than comparable Dutch
projects. Only with repetitions the gigantic initial investments are earned back.
Incentives like prestige and loss of face with regards to regular clients or
assurances are often at the base of making great initial investments.
When after this step the yellow or red card was not given, the conclusion
could be that the first phase was successfully ran through.
In accordance with this monograph this phase will not be elaborated on. It is
identical to the phrasing in paragraph 9.3: Preliminary Marketing.
The third phase of Technical Development is concerned with the technical
development of the product concept of phase 1, taking into account the reactions
of the market on that concept, generated in phase 2, to a mature technical
Goal prototype development: 12
The goal of this phase is to develop further the product concept to the stage of
functional, technical, architectonical and economical maturity in which the
prototype plays a central part. In the concept phase a number of suppositions
were given which now have to be controlled, improved, altered. They must lead
to an integrated whole with qualities which make the product acceptable to the
demands and requirements of the market, as they were known at the start of the
project and were defined in the second phase of the Preliminary Marketing.
Also belonging to this goal is the description of the specific strategy, the
aspects to be developed and explored, the required product cost-price, the
duration of the process and the process costs, as well as the expectations of the
final product at the end of this phase: the evaluation criteria. With this title is
actually meant the goal block activities, as were dealt with in the first phase.


Fig. 138: Frameless glued glass roof of the Fries Natuurmuseum (Frisian Museum of Natural
History), Leeuwarden, NL. Architect: Jelle de Jong. Structural Engineering: Octatube.


Fig. 139: Details of the frameless glued glass roof in Leeuwarden.

Process assurance: 13
This prototype phase usually requires more energy and investments than the
previous phases. It is not unusual that the first concept phase absorbs only 20%
of the design and development costs and the third prototype phase 80%. An
explicit estimation, subdivided in the various activities is a pressing need, it must
be based on a budget item like R & D in the company when it concerns a private
product development, or on a specific commission agreement when it concerns
a specific external commission. Usually the development budget has a set
Product/market identity: 14
From the combination of the first development phase of the Concept and the
second phase of the Preliminary Marketing, followed a Product/market identity:
the description of the market segments for which the product with beforehand
determined qualities, would be required. Quattro SR was meant for application in
Japan, in prestigious buildings, particularly as a frameless glazing around semi-


public grand rooms where the progression of the building technology could
sufficiently be displayed.
The entire Quattro SR system, consisting of glass panels, Quattro SR
nodal connectors and the stabilizations behind them, would be displayed in its
totality and refinement. In this phase the possibilities of flat frameless glass roofs
was not seen as realistic in Japan, nor was the frameless second (front) faade
for offices, annoyed by traffic noise or too much sun radiation. In marketing the
marketeers of Central Glass were not very inventive and many possibilities had
to literally be brought to them. In this phase architectonical marketing was
Preliminary market plan: 15
From this phase already a preliminary market plan must describe the specific
goals of the future product introduction, the means, the strategy, the relation with
the producing company. It was particularly for Central Glass not yet clear in this
phase how the service around the entirely developed product would be
presented at the market. Either from the mother company, the float glass
producer, or from a semi-independent daughter who could also compete with
other clients of the float glass producer. Two years later, Asahi Glass proved to
have chosen for such a semi-independent approach. To the marketing plan at
this point in time, also belonged the relation between the estimated annual
money turnover, the individual project turnovers and the glass turnovers. Of
course it became clear that the interests of mass producers of float glass with
mega turnovers of a product with a minimal cost-price, were completely opposed
to the very knowledge-intensive, engineering-intensive and production-intensive
Quattro SR products. The market plans of Central Glass and of Quattro SR were
very far apart. It was more a matter of me too: Central Glass wanted at all costs
a frameless glazing system in order to compete with its two main colleagues.
The Japanese building market shows, because of the
division in some large industrial conglomerates, far
more of a predestined division of tenderings and sub
tenderings. Even before Renzo Pianos design of
Kanzai Airport was finished, each of the three glass
producers knew already what part of the glazing they
were allowed to supply.
The development of the marketing plan is
further realized parallel to the technical traject, if the
producer wants to keep a finger in the pie.
What follows is the technical developing block
of developing and research activities, distinguished in
the six main aspects:
Technical System
Form & Composition
Fig. 140: Technical
developments for Quattro
Seismic Resistant.


Each of these main activities is normally complex enough to be provided with a

significant subdivision in sub-activities which refer to (re)designing, developing
and research, in abstraction on paper and in concreto in the form of material
models and prototypes, in order to go from a preliminary to a final product
Material research: 16
After the material was roughly determined in the concept phase, the definite
type and chemical assembly of the material had to be determined at that point,
including the required mechanical qualities, referring to the shape in which this
material had to be converted, the structural manner in which it functioned and
reacted on loadings and the manner in which it was produced, assembled and
mounted. The three main components of Quattro SR, namely the glass panels,
the connectors and the stabilizers each had their own material optimalization.
In the case of the glass panels only the realizations in monolith single glass
and laminated single glass were considered, where the typically Japanese
attitude to exclude every possible risk, led to structural load-bearing panels of
fully tempered float glass, in a low-oxide realization or not, safeguarded against
breakage by minimally an annealed float glass plane of only 3 mm gauge, even
for panel dimensions of 2 x 2 metres. Zappi, the tough and structurally reliable
transparent plate material of the future, as the chair of Product Development of
the TU Delft has in mind, was no option in the eyes of the float glass producer
Central Glass.
The connectors have squandered the greater part of the research hours.
The preference material was stainless steel in a realization which did not
demand further engineering and was preferably shaped in the production
method of the lost wax casting. However, in the short development hours and
the frequent shape alterations, from all sorts of considerations resulted welded
connectors from mechanically processed and welded steel.
These welded prototype connectors were to be followed by wax cast
stainless steel connectors with a lead-in-time of twelve weeks for the
manufacturing of the models and the casting of the first series. The stabilizers
have a shape and realization which have to be designed in a very project
involved manner. The material to be used was preferably steel massive pulling
bars, as opposed to the competitors flexible realization of stainless steel
cables, which caused a high level of pre-straining and therefore heavier building
structure loadings. These stainless steel pulling bars had to be combined with
welded pressure bars, which also have joints for the pulling bars and the
connectors. Steel was preferred over aluminium because of the great pulling
power and the more favourable temperature expanding co-efficiencies of
steel/glass over aluminium/glass.


Fig. 141: Exterior close-up of a Quattro SR node in the Seiroko Hospital, Tokyo.


Fig. 142: Quattro SR faade in the Seiroko Hospital.

Technical research: 17
This particular technical research first and foremost studied the greatest problem
of the loadings on the faade because of earthquakes and the consequences for
the structure of the building and of the glazing, the mutual differences and the
loadings and distortions of the Quattro SR system. The conclusion was that
particularly multiple storey-buildings with concrete load-bearing structures,
realized as columns and closed floor planes, would move horizontally during an
earthquake. For a vertical frameless glass faade it meant that the glass panels
next to each other would start moving as one row, as compared to a differently
moving upper row and lower row. The first indication, therefore, was horizontally
switching, vertically moving. Next to that there was the problem of the returning
to the default after the earthquake. A faade with rambling glass panels moving
above each other was not in order. Initially this led to the introduction of
mechanical springs at the end of the stabilization. Later on the spring
mechanism was absorbed in the artistic designing of the connector, which would
automatically return to the default position because of the fact that, during the
distortion by earthquakes, energy would accumulate in the connector, which
would again become zero when reaching the starting point.
A second aspect was: the demands which were made on the silicone
seams between the glass panels. The vertical panels were hardly distorted, the
horizontal seams, on the other hand, would start moving at a height of 12 to 20
mm to 20 mm sidelong, from left to right. The intersection of vertical and


horizontal seams had a distortion of squarely 20 x 20 mm, to a left or right

diamond shape. The type of silicone to be put in was very transformable: up to
A third aspect was: the glass panels, of which was said in general that, for
the producers safety and potentional loss of face, the possible falling out had to
be prevented by laminating the main panel by a thin float glass plane.
A fourth aspect was: the tensile structures. In fact the occurrence of earthquakes
caused that a diagonal tensile stabilization like in The Netherlands often is
applied, was of no use here: either a vertical tensile stabilization, which at the
ends hinges at the building structure, or a horizontal one which moves along with
the horizontal side-ways movements of the building. Depending on nature and
shape of the fastening points at the building structure a horizontal tensile
structure was preferred and on it rotating connectors.
A fifth aspect was: the mechanism that had to be extant in the connectors
to absorb the wind loadings as well as the self-weight and at the same time to
make possible the lateral movements, and the providing of a damper mechanism

Fig. 144: Close-up of a node with rulers

in order to indicate displacements caused
by earthquakes.

Fig. 143: Earthquake test facility for the

Quattro SR node in Tokyo.


Fig. 145: Inspection of the node.

Shape research: 18
The development of the connectors shape followed
from the product concept on which the X-shape of
Quattro, as it is internationally known, had to be
further built upon, although the H-shape, as used in
the RFR system, actually gave better starting
points for internal movement. The moving in pairs
of the two upper points opposite the two lower point
by means of the double hinges at the central axis of
the hinging pressure bar, developed from a first
design and prototype with rather larger dimensions,
based upon a whole distance of 300 x 300 mm, to
a definite smaller dimension of 200 x 200 mm
distance, where the initial typical Octatube artistic
design with its hidden (from view) mechanism, was
entirely made visible. The shape of the steel
welded wings was developed after the casting
model, but in the definite casting realization these
parts should become more smoothly and more
Production research: 19
Although the six technical aspects often overlap
each other and interlock, yet an analysis is
stimulating for the progression of the process. The
glass panels in their completely pre-strained and
laminated, or not, realization follow familiar
production manners. In the connectors the
mechanically engineered parts could be developed
geometrically from the concept. The two wings to
be cast were also before the realization of the first
project still manufactured as welded elements.
Much attention was paid at the smallest possible
tolerances between the various elements in the
connector. In the connector a vertical rotation
mechanism had to be possible, laterally with the
glass plane, while vertically the self-weight had to
be born. Looseness in movement versus rigidity
because of loading. Next to that considerations
were: product tolerance of the elements, tolerance
of the assembly of the connector and the
connectors tolerance of the mounting on the
pressure bars, not to mention the misfit with the
tolerances of the building structures, often found in
centimetres in the glass in 1 or 2 mm, while the
mechanism of the connector only foresaw tenths of
mm. Actually every wire joint shows the same

Fig. 146: Deformations



image: in the direction of the wire there must be some room to be able to rotate,
while perpendicularly, because of the loading in the fastened situation, the
tolerance must be utterly small because every hinge-like joint causes great
distortions in the connectors which form vertical cantilevers. A small rotation
causes a great distortion in the glass panels. At that moment once again the
confrontation with the fact that a bolt is designed to transfer power in the
direction of the stem and not perpendicularly in the form of a bending, presents
itself. The stainless steel stabilizing structures and welded pressure bars
received sufficient wire-shaped joints to be able of neutralizing rough building
tolerances to the finer glass tolerances. The number of hinges in the cantilever
overhanging elements which are loaded on bending, had to be limited while in
the pull loading elements the extant of hinges did play no part.
Assembly research: 20
The various components, especially the connector, have to be designed in such
a way that they fit well, with tolerances which guarantee the mechanical as well
as the structural rigidity. Tolerances are extremely important and form the basis
of industrial production. Of Henry Ford it is said that he invented the assembly
line as the assembling principle. Before the assembly line, however, he had
dramatically reduced the falling out percentage of components by ever keeping
on about fitting tolerances of the components as a condition for an efficient
assembly. Manufactured components were therefore, just before and during the
assembling, adjusted to make them fit, as we sometimes still see in the building
industry. Particularly this part was taken over by the Japanese. They seem less
keen on designing a new concept than on perfecting a known concept.
Application research: 21
The application research was limited to the possibilities of all sorts of
applications and degenerated rather quickly into giving advices and proposals
for project concepts. It was actually seen as the technical market control of the
developed design.
Design and building of prototype: 22
After these six aspect developments and development researches a number of
four prototypes was made: two of a nodal point which illustrated in two related
realizations the double hinges performance and two full size tests of 5 panels
width and 3 panels high, with panel dimensions of approximately 2 x 2 metres.
These buildings up took place in an especially designed and manufactured
testroom which, apart from a front surface of approximately 6 x 10 metres had a
depth of 2,5 metres and was provided with a double portal frame. The outer
portal frame was rigid, the inner frame could move by means of the four hinges
at the four corners.
Test and evaluation prototype: 23
The glass faade was suspended on the upper transom of the inner frame which
could be moved across hydraulically to simulate the lateral falling out of the
faade during an earthquake. The tests consisted of overpressure and under-


pressure in the testing room, in a static manner (longer duration) and a dynamic
manner (short and changing from overpressure to under-pressure) according to
the Japanese regulations, attended by a hydraulically instigated and laterally
moving glass faade with hinging nodal points, and all this sprayed by a
standard water test. A number of laboratory assistants had themselves locked in
during the tests in order to control if any water penetration occurred. They
looked, by the way, like Buddy Hollies with their standard helmets and black
safety spectacles. The lateral deformation was shown by means of measuring
rules and yellow threads. The built-in glass panel rows indeed behaved rigidly
and jointly in a horizontal direction, while in the vertical direction a distortion of
approximately 20 mm occurred per row in the sealant. Both tests were carried
out without any problems.

Fig. 147: Earthquake test facility for the Quattro

SR node in Tokyo.

Fig. 148: Inspection of the faade.

Preliminary cost-price: 24
After the successful technical tests post-calculations were made for a standard
faade, having a surface of 500 m and these prices were considered rather
high. The total development costs were highly risen in the mean time and it
was clear that these partly had to be written off of the general research costs of
the Central Glass Concern, and not of the project at hand. After some
smoothing a suitable price level came about, almost double compared to
European prices, but viewed from the intensively personal intervention with the
project the initial costs of Japanese building products are always high.


Prototype acceptability: 25
By the criteria which the management of Central Glass had set with the granting
of the commission, the prototype was an acceptable solution.
Evaluation Quattro SR project: 26
In general there was satisfaction about the process as it was carried out.
Approval of continuation: 27
The management of Central Glass approved of the process and enabled the
following step to move to a first application of two vertical glass faades in the
Seiroko Hospital in Tokyo. However, this concerns an application level and will
not be elaborated on in this monograph. With this activity the system level of the
Quattro SR tensile glass system for the Japanese market was completed.
The second half of this development system, at the application level, has
been executed, but in a scientific sense it is not interesting for detailing the

Fig. 149: Close-up of the Quattro SR glass connection node.




Special products, or project products are unique products, especially designed,

developed and produced for a specific building or project. Because of a direct
question of the project architect, in view of the totality of the building concept, the
actual programme of requirements and wishes is set very clearly and if there is a
need for alterations which can take place quickly in a discussion, no marketing
activity is included in this process. For, to the product designer the project
architect represents the market. (To the project architect the principal is the
market). The three typical phases of the development process of project
products are therefore named without marketing phases as follows:
design concept
prototype development
product manufacturing
An example of a special product: the design and development process of the
Train Taxi shelter pillar has been chosen. (In Dutch train is trein.)In general
special products or special components are parts of buildings. The shelter pillar,
however, is an independent structure, a small building in itself which is placed in
the public spaces nearby Dutch railway stations as a waiting-spot for travellers
using the train taxi. The shelter pillar has been chosen as an example because
of the surveyable complexity of an especially developed building product and
because the process was realized in the authors presence. It is a very
outstanding design, of which no more than a number of 120 would be built. The
shelter pillar would determine the identity of the trein taxi and would not be used
for any other purposes, nor by principals. For the following description a grateful
use was made of texts of Sam van Haaster, project leader and one of the
partners of DOK Produktontwerpers in Amsterdam.
Pre-phase, restricted competition: 1
Train Taxi (TT, nowadays called Transvision) had in 1995 approximately eighty
running locations in the main cities, with the exclusion of Rotterdam, Amsterdam
and Den Haag. TT is a kind of franchise organization: a local taxi company
adopts the formula to which TreinTaxi centrally attended the marketing and
supporting. TreinTaxi is a full daughter of NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen/Dutch
Railways) with an excessive independence. One of the characteristic
outstanding sales manners was that a traveller would never have to wait longer
than ten minutes and that a taxi would always be available. The taxi would be
shared by more travellers. At the locations, served at the time, this was
reasonably easy to make good, in view of the travellers supply and the scale of
the local taxi companies. A possible expansion of TreinTaxi especially had to be
looked for at smaller locations. The short waiting time and the waiting taxi would,
however, not become a reality so that a shelter accommodation became
unavoidable. TreinTaxi instructed both NS-Design and DOK Produktontwerpers
(an office of four Delft industrial designers in Amsterdam, which specified in


products for the professional market), to make a sketch design. Because of the
authors unacquaintedness with the design considerations of NS-Design, what
follows is only the report of Dok Produktontwerpers. The following additional
demands were made:
x A shelter accommodation as an addition to the existing pillar
x No resemblance with a (bus or tram) shelter
x Assembly by means of a very short operation with a very logical addition
to the existing pillar
DOK reacted quickly with a series of concepts, among
them a quarter circle segment hanging from the pillar
like a roof, and a curved one-pieced transparent wall
applied to the pillar. Characteristic of the idea in this
stage already, was that in front of as well as behind the
screen a shelter under a roof came about. This
concept was elaborated upon. For the structure a
framing of roof and wall in a curved welded tube was
suggested, in the vocabulary of the existing stoppingsign. During the making of a 1:5 scale model the idea
arose to make the roof transparent in order to obtain
an airily whole. The presentation was done in
November 1994. On the basis of effort and quality of
the idea TreinTaxi chose to proceed with DOK in April
Pre-design after final commission: 2
x In the intervening period TT had extended its
programme of requirements:
x lighting
x intercom with train taxi exchange
x a display-window for changing information
concerning TT
x a display-window for a newspaper
x a seating accommodation, suitable for elderly

Fig. 150: First phase.

It was clear that this would be impossible to realize while retaining the initial
pillar. This meant a considerable extension of the developing efforts, with many
unforeseen aspects. Add to this that TreinTaxi aimed for an introduction on 1
December 1995! DOK and TreinTaxi agreed on a phases schedule and an
appointed task budget, based upon after-calculation, which is unavoidable with
such a short processing time and so many unknown new aspects. The detailed
task and the allied trust which was given to DOK by TT can be called
exceptional. It does not often happen that a principal offers such a free hand to
an office.
DOK advised by the end of May 1995 that TT should associate with a
producer of street furniture as soon as possible, in order to have them involved


directly in a definite designing and so integrate existing know-how and building

elements. TreinTaxi, DOK and advisers of NS Purchasing formed a designing
working-group which met frequently (once a week). This working-group would
later be extended with the selected producer. The frequent deliberations with the
consequently written minutes have proved to be of the greatest importance for
obtaining and keeping the mutual thoroughly acquaintedness of the project, for
coming to fast resolutions, for keeping sufficient pressure on the project process
and staying in control over the progression.
Testing concept with 1:1 mock-up: 3
At the time TreinTaxi wondered if the concept design would have sufficient
sheltering capacity. Entirely in line with DOKs motto seeing is believing, the
definite design phase was therefore preceded by a test by making a 1:1 wooden
mock-up. A rain-and-wind team from the film business was hired (it was the
middle of June and it had been bone-dry for weeks). The object was then
exposed to downpours from all wind directions. The quarter circle shape of the
roof proved to provide insufficient protrusion at the straight sides. By giving
these sides a circle shape as well, this was corrected. The front side, which had
to provide room for 3 to 4 persons, had insufficient depth to withstand frontal
incoming rain. Because of the fact that, for practical reasons, the bent
windscreen had been made in two parts, it was very simple to try out on the spot
how the placing of one half of the screen to the back, would turn out. This
proved to be a golden strike. With the shoved walls an asymmetrical groundplan could be made, with which it was possible to react to the dominant wind
direction on the spot. A programme of requirements was drafted in which the
results of the test were included. TreinTaxi took stock of all locations with photos
to obtain insight in the placing conditions, like available spaces, the kind of
paving and orientation of the cab-stand in relation to the stations exit.
Producer selection and preliminary design: 4
NS Purchasing had pre-selected, by means of its extant channels, five
producers who were approached with the request to make a preliminary
estimate based upon the status of the concept design of DOK, plus the
additions. DOK proposed to TT to involve Octatube in the process, as a possible
supplier of the glass components. At DOK some ideas ripened on the application
of glass, which could never be realized without know-how and courage in that
field. TreinTaxi, however, added Octatube to the list as the sixth producer, for
the entire project! Based upon the written offers and the susceptibility of the
project plan, four producers were invited to amplify their offer. Some of them
took the liberty to sketch their own interpretation of the concept. One producer
was weighed and found wanting. DOK then made three new sketch designs
which expressed the characteristic materials and possibilities, to be found by
each of the three remaining candidates. By the end of June 1995 the different
imagoes of these parties were illustrated in spherical collages. Each of the
producers in question was sent the, to them, suitable design in order to react on
it. The design evolved quickly in this phase from a traditional steel tubular
framework with panel completion into a light-footed framework with a fragile little


roof. The information which was given by the producers in the offering
conversations could be incorporated immediately by DOK in the design work.
Inspired by Octatubes building elements a high-tech imago was sketched
around their alternative, by which every building team member proved to be
enchanted. In view of Octatubes lack of experience with street furniture there
was, however, some doubt about an adequate possibility in the field of industrial
production logistics, placing and aftercare. For Octatube was not an organization
used to manufacturing in series complete products with a great number of
different components. A structural score matrix was set up within which marks
were granted to every producer for criteria like expected visual quality,
assessment, value of the contribution to the development traject and reliability
concerning the pass through time. It was striking that TT in this stage wished to
exclude the price from the judging criteria! The total scores of the producers
were not significantly far apart. The decision was made to apply for a new offer
based upon the last status of the sketch design in question, in order to make the
price of great influence after all. In separate communication with every producer,
the specific product alternative was prepared where the, till then merely
aesthetic, sketch designs were provided with a structural set up and details.
Every producer offered a different product, namely the design fitted to
themselves. This may be marked as relatively unique. Normally the principal
followed the strategy of the purchaser, who would try to obtain the lowest price
with a uniform design.
Goal final design: 5
After the selection of the producer, by an extended building team deliberation
the further design development was carried out, in order to achieve an
outstanding design for a reasonably low and sufficiently transparent price
Strategy final design: 6
The building team consisted of client TreinTaxi, NS Purchasing, DOK and
Octatube. The client initiated, agreed, financed and attended to the installation
sequence, as well as to the licence process for each stand. DOK undertook the
main design, the choice of materials, the shapes of the elements and the
detailing on its own account. Octatube, as the selected producer, prepared
calculation based upon component cost-prices and hours with a set overhead
percentage and advised during the designing development. Its task was to
structurally determine the components, the engineering, the production, the
assembly and the fitting.
Evaluation criteria: 7
The target became a clearly recognizable Train Taxi-stand with a target price of
approximately EUR 6,000 excl. VAT, in a number of variants which could be
placed at the various locations, and a programme for placing the first examples
by February 1st 1996 at 25 locations for the official opening.


Different aspects: 8
The final design as it was developed by DOK, consisted of a large pillar in an
elliptical section which penetrated the roof, encircled with a pendent glass roof,
with two round glass walls, two small benches and an information displaywindow. Through the contacts with the street furniture manufacturers and their
own opinions, the building team had formed an anti-vandalism strategy which
came down to strength veiled in vulnerability. No radiating of suspicion towards
the public by indestructible structures, but showing confidence by an elegant and
well attended-to design. The structural qualities as they emerged from the
contacts with Octatube corresponded perfectly with this strategy. The roof, for
example, was far stronger than it looked, which discouraged vandals from
climbing on it. Considerations at this point were the following:
Shape of pillar: 9
A vertical element as a primarily recognizable element, chosen in clear colours
and with graphical signs. Hanged around it were a transparent little glass roof
and two curved transparent glass panel walls. As a shape, the pillar dominated
and real soon was named shelter pillar. The pillar was in fact a reminiscence of
the traditional halting-place sign, in proportion as well as in colouring. The
section of the pillar was slightly transformed in the course of time from a flat box
into a flat elliptical shape, in order to create space for the gradually increasing
functions. As it became clear what more it had to contain, the ellipse became
more and more puffed up. What followed was a long time of toying with the
more dynamically slanting upper side and the horizontally cut variant, which was
lower. The design overuled the costs. The dismountable slanting mitre was
Structure and construction of pillar: 10
The diameter of the ellipse was too big to be extruded out of aluminium: 300 mm
wide and 900 mm long. So, the pillar had to be assembled from several
components. Structurally there was a vertical truss out of a concrete foundation
slab. Dismounting had to be possible because of the electronics of the calling
installation and electrical illumination. Therefore it was decided to make a steel
framework of square tubes and a finishing of aluminium panels. Both round
headsides would be manufactured in an extrusion profile, the panels in bent
aluminium plate or steel plate. Because of the durability in the outside climate
and the risk of damages, later the choice for aluminium was made for the entire
pillar. (In order to be able to receive, without any shame, the Aluminium Design
Award in 1997).
Because of the transportation of as completely as possible assembled
shelter pillars, a separation was made in the upper roof between the lower and
upper frameworks, lower and upper plating, which had consequences for the
structural and sealing up details. During the transportation the upper roof part
would be loose.


Shape of roof: 11
Initially the roof consisted of two eighth circle
segments of synthetic material, framed by a
tubular construction, hung up at the central
pillar. The mock-up test had led to an
enlargement of the roof plane into two parts
which were only mirror symmetrical. During
the contacts with Octatube the clear ideas
about the application of a glass roof, which
was unusual for its use in street furniture was
confirmed. The protective tubular construction
disappeared. The roof became a set of two
free glass plate cantilevers, which met in the
middle at a cantilever support, serving as a
drain at the same time. Later this support also
disappeared when it became clear that an
entirely free-hanging glass roof was possible,
through which the qualities of glass could
appear to full advantage. An entirely
transparent roof, with its cantilevers giving an
Fig. 151: Glass roof connection of
image of vulnerability responding to the design
the Train Taxi pillar.
Since it arose that with the application of laminated glass one layer might
be tinctured, the panels needed to be mirror symmetrical in order to prevent the
necessity to produce two different types. The roof obtained its definite lens shape
with two intersecting circle segments with the same radius.
Materialization of roof: 12
The roof could consist of one single 12 mm fully tempered glass plate or two 6
mm float glass, heat-strengthened plates laminated upon each other for greater
protection against the consequences of a co-incidental or wanton burst of one of
the two panels.
Electronics in the pillar: 13
In order to make permanent stationary taxies at quiet locations redundant,
TreinTaxi required a call button in the pillar, behind which an automatically
dialling telephone was hidden, in direct contact with the telephone exchange.
TreinTaxi itself conducted tendering negotiations with the suppliers of the
intercom installations. For a long time TreinTaxi had tried to avoid that a 220 Volt
connection had to be used because of the expected mishaps with the local
electricity companies. For the illumination TreinTaxi even thought of solar cell
feeding in combination with batteries: suggestions which were turned down by
the technical designers with raised eyebrows. When it became clear that the
intercom could not be sufficiently amplified from PTT feeding, TreinTaxi
capitulated to a permanent 220 Volt connection from the main electricity grid.
For this, at many locations, local utility companies demanded a main switch
cupboard with an earthed switch!


Information on pillar: 14
Next to the main announcement TreinTaxi with plastered letters on the
aluminium panels, a display-window would be placed in the pillar for informative
announcements on behalf of train taxi. The definite programme of requirements
already spoke of a display-window somewhere in the pillar which would show
the daily newspaper. Despite DOKs objections to the consequences of the
frequent use (a nice idea, but how long will it last?), TreinTaxi persevered and
proudly announced that the daily NRC Handelsblad wanted to co-operate.
Aware of the risky character of this part DOK once again started to design a
display-window which, if it would fail, could be removed again without a trace.
Entirely in the line of the design a subtle solution of one bent little glass plate
with aluminium extrusions at the head sides came about which, together with the
large bent glass panel formed a display-window which could be read from both
sides. In its simplicity and yet in its daring, it also surpassed the expectations of
Limited variety versus standardization: 15
As a result of the diversity and restrictions of locations and orientations
concerning wind direction and walking direction to the exit of the railway station,
it quickly became clear that a variation in left and right types had to be possible.
A variant with a standard deep or shallow roof through which the shelter pillar
could be placed upon a narrow pavement. Also shelter pillars without a roof and
without walls might be needed if the placing so required. Already five models
proved to come about, by which the serial effect in the assembly (also cost-wise)
was not as efficient anymore as was initially thought. The knack proved to be the
standardizing of the smaller components and the specializing or making
particular of the total assemblies. By assembling left and right, large or small
variants from the stock of standard elements and components. In principle, the
left and right models could be identical, if only the roof would not have been a
spoil-sport. By that a certain fall backwards came about and consequently a
slanting in the connecting elements with many mirror symmetrical elements. In
an early stage an estimate had to be made of the minimum amount of the
different types with an over-measure of remaining components.
Materialization and detailing: 16
The shelter pillar became an assembly of components which were all especially
designed and developed for this project: a concrete footplate, a welded steel
framework, aluminium bent panels, extruded ellipse ledges and pillars, cast
plinth ledges, bent, screenprinted hardened glass wall panels, semi-hardened
laminated roof panels, stainless steel suspension equipment, electronics, the
information display-window and the newspaper display-window. Of all the
elements the shape had to be designed and developed and the manner of
fastening had to be taken into account, in order to be able to dismounting for
purposes of maintenance, possibly by third party mechanics. At countless places
where various materials and components meet, to be taken into account were
the mutual production size differences, caused by the very different manners of
production and the differences at the assembling and repeatedly fitting and


dismounting. And this while initially drawing at straight lines, gradually the idea
arose that a straight line as a border between two different elements could better
be a zone with tolerance regulations. DOKs applied strategy looked like the
application of the plating of cars. The principle there was that a meeting of two
parts could not be accurate. For that reason a broad gap was left open with, in
fact, unnoticeable divergences. Where metal and glass, and glass with glass
met, this was less successful, because bent glass showed, next to the expected
size differences also large shape differences. For instance, the bent information
display-window did not follow the radius of the underlying door panel. This
emerged more significantly when the comfortable tradition of catching the
tolerances in masked notches (think of glass in wooden window-frames) was
replaced by the strictness of the abstraction and the bare placing of elements
next to each other (think of the application of a lute joint between two hardened
glass plates). A clear example of production tolerances was the glass bent
panels which, by the highly thermal treatment, could not be guaranteed to have
the exact size. They could be disapproved of on excesses, but by too many
disapprovals no producer would produce anymore. So a balance came about
with admissible tolerances, which in the middle of a 1,2 metres wide plate came
to 20 mm, that is to say: 10 mm in and 10 mm out. The usual NS positioning of
glass walls with free lower and upper sides fortunately connected without
complications with the tolerance account of bent glass. During the co-operation
of DOK and Octatube sometimes the difference in culture appeared in the form
of the usual tolerances which, in industrial designing are in the order of one
hundredth to a few millimetres, while these are going from millimetres to
centimetres with building technical designing. A plate processing company
working for the building industry, proved to work according to different norms
than a sheet metal worker who supplied to an industrial production company.
Another consideration of the detailing was the connection of elements of
non-compatible materials, like the aluminium plating on the steel framework.
Sufficient material insulation had to be applied between these two metals to
prevent stress corrosion. For in the humid outside climate are excellent
conditions extant to cause considerable corrosion damage. The steel was
thermally zincked, where needed provided with an epoxy coating, while the
aluminium was powder-coated. The connection between them was done by
means of stainless steel bolts. A great number of these considerations only
became clear in the engineering stage, but in fact they belonged in the design
stage. Therefore they are treated here somewhat anachronically.
Technical realization prospects: 17
In all the conversations with the producer and with various subproducers, like
the aluminium foundry and the producer of the bent glass, the prospect of the
realization of the different parts was checked. The finishing round was that of the
assembly line which would have to be set up. With something of an assembly
line of a small aircraft factory in the back of the mind, a series of 20 to 25 shelter
pillars was expected which would be assembled simultaneously as a weeks


Economical feasibility: 18
Right from the first contacts with NS Purchasing prices for entire assemblies, as
well as separate components, had to be stated. Initially a price for a private
variant with a steel ellipse tube was stated on 13 June 1995 of EUR 3,380. After
the receipt of DOKs new design concept by the end of June, a price was
estimated of approximately EUR 6,000 by the middle of July 1995. Through
various optimalizations a definite price was estimated of approximately EUR
5,000, excluding the costs of the design development as well as the costs of
electricity and furniture. In this phase it became clear that the DOK design was
very well affordable and so the choice of the producer became definitive.
With the approval of the next phase the run to it was
taken: the development of the prototype, in which a
working definite prototype had to be produced with the
actual materials and the final perfectives of the design. A
short time span was thought of, from August to
December 1995. This proved to be very short in view of
the manufacturing of particular extrusion profiles,
castings and similar components. Very important was
the decision to invest in this phase already in matrices
for extrusions and castings. Through this, in fact, hours
could be shortened by time-representing beams which
normally run after one another: of Prototype
Development and Production Phase. A form of
concurrent engineering took place, the engineering of
the prototype and the engineering of the preparation of
the production. This is the reason why in this case of the
shelter pillar a couple of considerations of the production
phase will be treated already in the prototype phase.
Goals and prototype development: 19
The goal was to be able to show the press, and with
them the candidate franchise taxi companies, a working
prototype by the end of December 1995.
Strategy prototype development: 20
DOK would supervise the definite design traject of the
whole and of all elements, while the producer had to
state the prices continuously. To save time it was
suggested to work on a basis of a cost-price plus, a set
percentage for engineering and overhead, profit and
risk, on top of the calculation of the component prices
and the assembly costs. From that moment on DOK
could apply for prices and discuss them, have technical
discussions with sub-producers and so DOK became

Fig. 152: Prototype phase.


co-responsible for the financial programme as well. Because of the relatively

small scale of the project, this proved to be a formula which worked reasonably
well, although in the end a correction had to be applied to the assembly prices, in
order to be able to account for the reduced scale effect. For Octatube it was
easier to have the design development take place in this manner, although the
item contingency was kept small from the beginning and therefore, with the
many additions, continuous corrections had to be applied to the price. The cost
account, however, was an open book. Because of this openness, a preliminary
contract was worked with during the production passing time, which actually after
finishing of the production was definitive enough to be signed. Also because
materials and moulds had to be ordered continually, anticipating the final
contract, the design development, production orderings of components and the
building of the prototype were done in confusion. Dates of deadlines had to be
arranged constantly, after which the prototype could not be finished in time,
because of the necessary lead-in times (model and firstling productions of
components). In some cases the complete series of all components of one type
had to be ordered, before one single part could be built into the prototype.
The openness of orders, reasons for changes and finances were based
upon trust. The prototype procedure deviated very much from the usual. In
general a producer avoided to engineer components as a serial product when
the prototype had not been tested yet. He would postpone the investments at
stake until certainty of the correct functioning of the design would be obtained. In
view of the extremely short production time from the prototype to the first series
(approximately six workable weeks), it was inevitable that many components got
their definite shape immediately. The development process was, therefore, not
directed by a natural course of order, but merely by delivery time. That, which
had to be ordered first, had to be on the drawing first. So, the glass roof panels
were fixed early in October, while the underlying drainage was not known at that
time. Soon afterwards followed the extrusion profiles and the casting elements.
Actually, great risks were run with this. Yet, this tight schedule had a motivating
influence on the development.
By the forced early determining of some parts, realizations for these were
thought up with nothing fixed for later alterations. The roof plate, for instance,
knows only one tolerance: its hanging points. It remained free from the
construction. After the definite ordering decisions for some components were
made, there too things quieted somewhat. Designers, who would tend to
endlessly smoothing and refining, were now forced to compelled designing.
DOKs design work, commissioned by TreinTaxi, covered a clearly set traject
while Octatube had included an engineering traject in its estimate: calculations
of the strength and rigidness of components and the making of workplace
Because of DOKs great involvement and the clear separation of activities,
it was decided in mutual consultation that DOK would carry out the greatest part
of the engineering by order of Octatube, sometimes up to visiting producers (like
Interglass in England), in order to check the results of the firstling productions of
components. At that time Octatubes duty remained the continually co-drawing of
the design, the calculations in consultation with DOK, the consulting and


optimalizing of the design. TreinTaxi did its bit by the development of the PR and
the intercom on the one hand, on the other hand by the development of the
locations and the necessary licences, sometimes through the institution
Buildings of Historic Interest, always through Heritage, through public utility and
through PTT and this was done in 120 train taxi cities.

Fig. 153: Train Taxi pillar part.

Fig. 154: Assembeled Train Taxi stand in the Octatube factory.

Casting in aluminium: 21
The aluminium castings in natural cast work were entirely developed by DOK
together with Kinheim Foundry in Boxmeer, The Netherlands. The large pillar
feet were parted in order to be able to later place the pillar plating upon the
paving and to remove them when re-paving had to be done. They were of
natural aluminium because of the many damages when used. In the large
castings very cleverly an outfall pipe for rain was designed which was led
through the pillar in the thermally zincked load-bearing frame. The little feet and
heads of the pillars got castings for a neat finishing. The casting was done,
because of the small amount of identical castings (2 foot-halves, pillar foot, pillar
head), by means of the vacuum foil/sand technique. The castings were wireedged (as is usual) and drummed to obtain an equable colour and to smooth
away the wire-edging traces. Aluminium quality: AlSi 10 mg. The costs of the
total of matrices, being EUR 5,400, were entirely amortized to the project.


Plating of aluminium or steel: 22

The plating against both flat sides of the pillar, lower roof and upper roof,
consists of four parts with different shapes, of which two had to be able of being
opened as a door panel for the entrance to the electricity works. The choice
between 1,5/2 mm steel plate and 3 mm aluminium was, after the production of
specimens, made by a suitable sub-producer to be aluminium. Damages would
not lead to corrosion. Not the thermal expansion coefficient was a consideration
this time, but the perfection with which the aluminium could be set, bent and
rolled. The little cases of the display-windows were, for that matter, made of
thermally zincked steel plate. Welding was easier to be done in steel, without
burning and distortion of the piece of work.

Fig. 155: Aluminium casting of the foot.

Aluminium extrusions: 23
The head sides of the elliptical pillar plating were designed in an aluminium
extrusion profile because of the desired freedom of shape. With the ribs and
grooves in the nose profile, good connections could be obtained for the other
plating by means of hidden clicking connectors. The little columns became round
tubes with three middle rigidities and grooves for the glass and the cover strips.
The centre would contain a smaller round opening in order to be able to lock in
the massive steel bars at the top and bottom. These would provide the
anchorage in the concrete slab, respectively the connection to the glue dottle
under the glass. The total matrices costs for the two extrusions amounted to
EUR 6,000 and were also amortized to the project.


Bent prestressed glass: 24

Already in the first design, the glass walls were considered to be bent. Because
of vandalism Octatube preferred bent, laminated and tempered (or prestressed)
glass. However, it proved to be an unaffordable combination. Octatube had in
the preceding year glazed two shops with bent, single hardened glass in
Rotterdam, where the same argument came about. Two bent glass panels will
never perfectly connect with each other with tenths of mm deviation, the
maximum of what PVB-foil can take. In their stead the two panels would have to
be laminated upon each other by means of epoxy casting resin. The price of the
single panel would triple, with the advantage that it would remain hanging in the
two side rabbets, in the event of a crack. The custom in The Netherlands was
much more simple: single glass was used for shelters and quickly replaced, so
vandalism leaves no traces and so is discouraged. DOK thought of another way:
the better well-groomed, the greater the chance of respect and the less possible
damage by vandalism. Graphical designer Professor Paul Mijksenaar was asked
to design a specific graphical screening for the bent glass panels and came up
with a pattern of little symbols in a translucent colour. This design would be
screened on the flat glass, after which the glass would be heated to 570C and
the screening would actually be burned in. After that, by forced air a fast cooling
down (deterring) would take place which would result in prestressed glass:
pressure on both surfaces and a pulling zone in the heart of the glass plate, a
glass panel with a great strength. The bent glass which was produced by
Interglass in England, proved to show a typical deviation of shape which, by the
way, was exactly within the agreed tolerances. The radius was not constant, in
the middle it was smaller than nominal and to the outside just larger. Because of
that it looked as if the panel twisted especially in the middle and was flat at both
sides. This was already noticed in the prototype stage, but marked as being a
one time phenomenon. At the later serial production it was repeated in an
identical way. Because of that, at the newspaper display-window, built up from
two concentrically glass panels, a strongly varying mutual space occurred. This
had to be corrected by a sealing up rubber profile.
Laminated semi-prestressed glass: 25
The roof panels have a very vulnerable character because of their bare and thin
layers. From the beginning came from Octatubes designing experience the use
of single or laminated glass. Actually every ground-plan shape, provided gradual
edges, a reasonable holes pattern and particular sizes, can be cut accurately
with a water laser jet cutter. The roof panels were realized in a light grey tone, so
that dirt accumulation would be less visible. The grey colour also gave, to the
shelter taking people, a little body to the transparent roof, while this was hardly
visible from a distance because of the small height and the perspective of the
pedestrian. To be certain that the glass plate was sufficiently vandalism-proof,
two laminated models were produced and in Ocatatubes laboratory loaded to
crack, by dancing upon them and beatings with steel pipes. Vandalism was not
yet standardized, therefore an acceptable collapse behaviour was searched in
mutual consultation. It proved that when both hardened glass plates were
cracked, the roof panel came down like a cloth because of the small


fragmentation of the two plates. Semi-hardened glass showed a different

collapse behaviour. When it cracked it showed some large tears, comparable
with ordinary glass. Because the patterns of the cracks in both plates normally
were not on top of each other, a moderate rigidity still remained and the panel
did not drop down. In this manner the laminated semi-hardened glass panels of
the roof were produced by Secirit in Switzerland. In one year of usage only one
single roof panel cracked. The ultra slender edges of the glass, which so much
intrigued the post-Rietveld generation of designers, were not spoiled by metal
edges which would essentially affect the glass-like character of the edge. This
was a choice of design and taking a chance on the usage.

Fig. 156: Assembled Train Taxi stand in the Octatube factory.


Switch and control technique: 26

The intercom unit was ordered unknown to the producer and was built in behind
the plating which, for that reason, had a number of perforations in order to let
sound pass. The installation was done by an electrical engineer as a
subcontractor. Some experiments were needed to generate sufficient acoustical
deadening in order to suppress the echo which came from the plating of this
resonance-box. A normal telephone knows no feed back effect between the
listening and the speaking parts. To prevent an intercom from taking in the
sound from the speaker by the microphone, it has a switch system which pushed
away one direction of the communication all the time. This did no good for the
intelligibility. The measure of pushing away could only be adjusted to the real
Information display-windows: 27
The regularly changing TreinTaxi information was thought up to be placed in an
exchange display-window, consisting of a steel inside mantle and a glass window
with an added little door through which the posters could be exchanged. It
needed lighting within and the basic colour would have to fit in the colour of the
pillar plating. Its development took place in a drawing by DOK, only the locking
and the waterproof sealing needed perfectioning at some points by means of
Design screening glass walls: 28
The current dull anti-passing through graphics on glass panels in the public
environment consisted of vertical grooves at hip height. Professor Paul
Mijksenaar was approached to function as an intermediary for graphical artists.
Mijksenaar had re-designed the signposting at Schiphol Airport. Fortunately the
office took the commission itself. The design of the screening consisted, seen
from a distance, of a grid of little spots which proved to exist by approximation of
a motley collection of little symbols related to travelling, waiting, the weather and,
to the connoisseur, some quotations of famous icons. At a later stage the office
took the design work of the information poster in the display-window in hand in a
matching style.

Fig. 157: Signs and lettering designed by Paul Mijksenaar for

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.


Assembly of prototype: 29
During the assembly of the first prototype a small number of shortcomings was
discovered, mainly of fittings and tolerances of different parts. In view of the
required short passing through time a pragmatical style of engineering was
chosen. All serial parts for which tools had to be manufactured, were worked out
in drawings including the allowable tolerances, all parts to be produced were only
nominally measured. The prototype would serve as an example for later
production, deviations which would be found in it could still be corrected. This is a
very usual way, numerous products have reached the market without one single
drawing made. The model served as the source of information. This went well,
provided no change of supplier took place. In that case the information which
was collected in the prototype, got lost for the greater part. But because of the
well-prepared design and engineering, as well as the individual control of the
quality of the components before they were assembled into a shelter pillar, no
essential alterations were necessary. Personally, the author always found that
the less successful design detail was the glued trumpet connection under the
glass, nota bene an introduction from Octatube, but in proportion with the entire
design too minimal in mass. A larger, more sturdy knot would make a far more
steady impression: visual balance. Because holes had to be made in the plate by
the place of the ellipse pillar anyway, in hindsight gluing would not have been
necessary. It could have led to less component types.

Fig. 158: Close-up of the upper part.

Cost-price calculation: 30
In the mean time the total costs, by all sorts of additions, achieved in an open
estimation and checked by various parties, had risen to an amount of EUR 6,580
in the series. An amount which was, in view of the turned in quality, still
acceptable to TreinTaxi.


Go ahead firstling: 31
Right after the presentation to the press, in the middle of December 1995, it was
decided to start the production of the entire series, this with the restriction of
obtaining approvals for placing which would be depending on local municipal
services and public utilities.
Reaction of principal: 32
The principal reacted very positively on the design, the
realization and acknowledged the costs estimations.
Production schedule: 33
Already during the running start for the prototype, the
firstling, a great number of orders were placed for the
production of the actual series. To get the production of
the first components going, matrices had to be
manufactured for the castings, the aluminium extrusions,
the roof panels and the screening of the glass panels, in
the smallest possible series.
At the same time of the ordering of the prototype,
investments also had to be done for the series, which
exceeded manifold the size of the prototype. Together
with the sub producers the elements and components
were carefully prepared and during the production
preparation actually only two components, which were
added to the project at the last moment, caused
problems: the sound installation and the benches.
Working drawings: 34
All drawings were already made in the prototype stage,
so were the drawings for pieces of work. New machines
were not needed, nor the designing of new production
lines, since the series was so small that production had
to take place at regular engine grounds, even if they
were in Switzerland, England, Germany and The
Ordering matrices extrusion and casting: 35
The matrices and casting moulds for the prototype were
already ordered and so actually belonged to the
prototype costs.
Production in elements: 36
In accordance with the first experiences from the
prototype phase with their feedbacks, the elements were
produced in various factories in different countries.

Fig. 159: Production



Pre-assembly to components: 37
From elements which belonged together components were assembled and
stored in the assembly storehouse, around the work-floor for the large
production assembly.
Assemblies in small series: 38
The 120 pillars were assembled in five series of 10 to 25. The pillar was built up
from a prefabricated concrete slab of 2500 x 1500 x 150 mm, the steel
framework and the clothed plating and glazing. During the assembly the entire
electrical installation was also put in. By means of special anchor inserts the
assembled shelter pillar could practically entirely be hoisted upon the truck and
later unloaded on the spot. In the producers assembly shop the assembling of
the supplied elements and components from a project storehouse, was carefully
set up, but realized by personnel which was used to one-off products, a little
freebooting-like. It was difficult for the management of the producer to turn
sufficient discipline from Octatubes adventurous atmosphere around the
developing and building of prototypes into an efficient production of a small
series. The series came about jolting as well, because at the side of licencees
continuous impediments were found with the realization. By the way, the
American industrialization after 1945 provided the possibility to manufacture
industrial homes for returning soldiers in the empty aircraft factories. However,
the bureaucracy around mortgages and building licences caused a potential
streamlined production of hundredths of homes per day to stuck at tenths and
eventually failed.
Transport and local fittings: 39
Every day knew its pre-destined route of three nearby locations. In the evening
the three shelter pillars were loaded up and after departure in the morning were
early delivered, hoisted out and mounted with the loose top.
Maintenance: 40
The only parts which required maintenance in the first half year were the
mechanically moving components: the newspaper display-window and the door
panel in the pillar, as a result of growing pains in the detailing of hinges and
locking. Attentive train taxi drivers took care of reporting defects immediately.
Hardly any vandalism occurred, to our great surprise and satisfaction, naturally.
For every 100 pillars an average of one reparation per month proved to be
Usage evaluation: 41
Of the total estimated amount of 120, about one hundred have been placed in
the mean time. With the experience of the maintenance period of one year, one
reparation per month will have to be carried out. And this is far less than was
initially expected. With respect to the train taxi travellers the shelter pillars are
satisfying as clearly striking images in the public rooms nearby the railway
stations, and they offer shelter for the sort times travellers may have to wait.


Therefore, the shelter pillars function to entire satisfaction.

Fig. 160: Train taxi stand Delft.



With the arrival of the new millennium the building practice will not change all of
a sudden, but it will be a moment for evaluation. Much can be said about the cooperation of architecture and building technology. The spatial quality of
architecture in particular will change more rapidly through activities in the
conceptual stage than will the technical building structures. The geometrical
possibilities, as offered by the computer as a 3-D drawing instrument, have
become so attractive that architects keenly throw themselves on making
concepts of a complex spatial design. However, the very same spatial quality
and the manufacturing of the necessary components, cost excessive energy
when being engineered. Because of this an ever widening gap arises between
the stages of preparation and realization. The mutual feeling of identification
recedes. In its turn the technology of the building practice develops itself largely
beyond the eyesight of the architect. Many new building materials, building
products and building techniques have been introduced, mainly by the building
industry. Others are initiated by pioneers among architects. Others again have
fallen out of grace. Due to the increasing specialisms of production, the current
varieties of technical building possibilities are no longer mastered solely by the
architect. Some architects feel overwhelmed by the growing complexity of
building technology and by the way the different aspects have been integrated
and interwoven with one another. Others only think that architecture and building
technology are drawing daggers at each other. Sensible architects play the
game more subtly.
Todays relation between architecture and building technology is totally different
from the last turn of the century. At that time architects were mainly interested in
neo-styles which, indeed, held a technical element as well , but secluded
themselves from the technical building developments the industrial revolution
brought along. The Rijksmuseum and the Centraal Station of C.P. Cuypers were
under construction in Amsterdam. There were hardly any cars yet. H.P.
Berlages commodity exchange was under construction in Amsterdam as well.
With the help of the French engineers Monier and Hennebique reinforced
concrete, a new material, was on its way to adolescence, through practice rather
than theory.
Only gradually a proper insight into the forces within this massive
construction material, was generated. In the preceding decades entirely glazed
houses were realized in parks. Malls were covered with glass. But these clever
feats of building techniques were not acknowledged as architecture. The
construction of railways brought along series of huge bridge structures and
railway stations. Benjamin Bakers steel Firth of Forth railway bridge near
Edinburgh, despite the lack of analytical calculations at the time, but thanks to a
paramount insight in force activities, was built as a tubular structure with


enormous cantilevers. High up in his laboratory in his iron tower in Paris, Eiffel
experimented with windforces which would later be used by aircraft designers.
Still, the gap between architects and design engineers was wide. During the last
turn of the century architecture was considered to be autonomous, overloaded
with cultural awareness but with little interest in the stimulus which was brought
about by independent building technology. There was hardly any dialogue, let
alone a combination or integration.

Fig. 161 / 162: The Firth of Forth Bridge near

Edinburgh, Scotland. Engineered by Benjamin
Bake & John Fowler, 1889.

Fig. 163 / 164: Eiffel Tower by Gustav Eiffel,

Paris, 1889.


How different the situation is one century later. In the 75 years of modernism, in
which architecture and building technology grew towards each other, integration
was brought about. However, after the long years, many look upon modernism
in architecture as being an old patriarch, who is not willing to pay much attention
to the efforts of much younger architects trying to express their own identity.
Architectural historians go out of their ways in trying to prolong the state of
intensive care this old man is in by analyzing his youthful activities on end,
instead of considering the possibilities of the future. Most of the associates are
still loyal to him because they are aware of their kinship and do not wish to deny
their ancestry. Stimulated by the possibilities, architects in the last quarter of the
century, often bravely challenged engineers to develop their technology one step
further. Prominent are the heroic acts of technical architects like Gnther
Behnisch and Frei Otto for the cable-net roof at Munich, as well as the
revolutionary design of the Centre Pompidou at Paris, designed 20 years ago by
Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, establishing the reputation of technical
architecture for all time. But also due to the British high-tech architecture of the
Eighties of Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw and others, the
awareness has grown that building technology is indispensable and can be
allowed to be so for architecture. To stress the characteristics and the design
level of supporting structures in steel tubes, the author has introduced the notion
constructure [10] once before. In the field of structural designing it was the Ove
Arup office which built themselves an excellent reputation at the time. Peter
Rice, Martin Francis and Ian Ritchie initiated many new developments of
ingenious building techniques. The building technologist, however, has to know
his place. Architects find that building technology should serve architecture and
may not surpass it. Peter Rice was the prototype of the architectonically thinking
structural designer who stimulated a balanced integration of architecture and
building technology in all its details. Renzo Piano did so as well with one of his
last works, the terminal of the Kanzai Airport at Osaka, a contemporary
cathedral. With his buildings Santiago Calatrava also strives for a balanced
integration of architecture and building technology, sometimes that of Art and
building technology. The mentioned technical designers profiled themselves
through exceptional projects. They made a wide track on which the sub-top and
sub sub-top can enjoy more freedom of movement with less heroic projects,
although these do provide the daily spatial surroundings. To the author, who is
specialized in the designing, developing and realizing of new spatially structural
building components, the relation between architecture and building technology
is very important. In building technology product development and component
designing play a stimulating part. Therefore, this chapter has consciously been
written from that point of view. Todays architecture philosophizes about the
contribution of building technology and product development as part and parcel
of it, by ideas and methodology carried to a balance between architecture and
building technology in future architecture. Todays generation started it up and
the studying generation should follow in its footsteps.



The spatial environment is being shaped by landscapes, public residences,
public traffic areas, buildings and their external spaces. The torn apart functions
in spatial environment as approved at the time by CIAM, seemed clear enough
at first. But, while its popularity grows, thoughtless work brings about more
poverty by the isolation of functions. Nowadays functions in urban environments
are gradually brought together again and integrated into a higher level of the
richness of life and variation. This may mean that the solely functional value will
not necessarily increase, but the experience value certainly will. The city
originated from crossroads, human contacts and material exchange. Buildings,
as an intersection of human communication, can achieve the same complexity
as a small city.
Within the great frame of Modernism subsequent architectural trends have
been variants, each of which was surpassed by a following sub-trend in one or
two decades. Structuralisms ambition is to accommodate life from the smallest
human level to a greater co-operating whole. It has the shape of a built image of
the beehive-like character of society. Next to that many sub trends busied
themselves particularly with different external shapes of buildings as material
appearances in which the characters of later generations always can be
distinguished. A distinction to show an age difference and a difference of
opinions. In a building technology sense this leads to a different choice of
materials and shapes of building components. It is normally not because of
technical performances that building products fall out of grace. More often the
changes in functions and aesthetics, spurred on by the urge of manifestations of
new generations, will lead to this.
After the age of the clarity of Modernism with its analysis and separation
as a thesis, the integration as an antithesis shot forward and started to overrule
the architectonical profession. Everybody has to co-operate with everybody.
Everybody interferes with everything and only a few are ready to take clear
responsibilities. A communal game of shifting off responsibilities is the result.
Everything has to be integrated until nobody remembers cause and effect and
who is responsible for what. In fact integration has often struck inward, it
imploded. Instead of a large community, a great fogginess occurred. As a
possible synthesis the introduction of individual actions will again be distinctive
and clarifying. The building process is a social process and as such influenced
by the spirit of the times. Both building and spatial environment are the result of
a super integration, they are achieved more and more laboriously and cost
fortunes in these stages of preparation. To justify interventions in public areas is
a right which should be kept safely, but it often results in inactivity. Some
investment is needed in the search for a better balance in this public process of
integration, in order to get it manageable again. Would it not be better to
gradually get rid of the outgrowth of the achievements of participation as seen in
the Seventies? At the academic level the minister already set a clear example
with the introduction of a hierarchical structure.


Fig. 165-167: Train station in Lyon. Architect: Santiago Calatrava.


Fig. 168: Detail of Centre Pompidou, Paris.


In these days of increasing computer sciences and virtual reality, the question
should be asked whether it is still logical to create a material envelopment for a
society which changes so rapidly. An envelopment for which the preparation and
realization take such a long time and of which the material form is so rigid that
every subsequent changes will outdate any building. Should we, in the future,
build like we have in the past?
If so, how adaptable must these buildings be! This leads to a different
answer than that of Archigram in the Sixties, where the building of the future was
looked upon as a material framework which could be changed and adapted at
random, by which individual spatial needs can be plugged in, zoomed out and
blown up. From this image of material adaptability within a minimally conditioning
framework grew the concept of the Centre Pompidou.

Fig. 169: Centre Pompidou, Paris (south faade).

Fig. 170: Centre Pompidou, Paris (north faade). Architects: Richard Rogers & Renzo Piano


For that matter it is one of the first and few buildings which materialized
Archigrams idea so clearly. And even that building hardly changes on the
outside, certainly not in the way it was meant to be or in the way the building is
capable of. This may be a matter of limited vision of the building management.
After twenty years of intensive use the building has been painted again and once
more looks like the bomb that changed architecture for ever. But many of the
buildings from the Seventies and Eighties, flirting with their skeleton-like nature
and flexibility of usage, prove to be unchanging buildings when it comes to their
The point has not yet been reached that the use of the virtual reality of
Cyberspace has changed the view on the built reality. But, minding the
imperfection and the enormous energy which material building brings along, and
the apparent perfection of virtual reality, the future holds a transition from the
concrete to the abstract, from material to immaterial. This image is summoned
by the apparent nonchalance with which images of a newly designed building
can be generated on the computer in 3-D. For that matter it is known that not
everything which is drawn, can actually be built. First the laws of the material
world, the logic of building technology and rational estimating shall have to meet
their requirements.
The new buildings of the current turn of the century stand out because, in
general, they do not outshine by technical newness, but are sooner
compositions of familiar components, built with familiar materials and by familiar
production manners. Sometimes the material composition of a building can be
eccentric in its components, in order to give the building distinction. Usually,
however, the maximum freedom granted to the architect, is the positioning of
material components in space.
The different placing of components of the building in space has
everything to do with the shape of the building, the shape of building parts and
the shape of components. This is highly stimulated by using the computer mainly
for shape and geometry. Without the help of drawing and mathematical
computer science for the benefit of the phases of both materializing and working
drawings, architecture would never, or only with great difficulty, have been
released of the orthogonal system. One single slant or bent line is just possible.
Scharoun and Aalto are masters of the slanted line. But when the geometry of a
building can no longer be described as mainly orthogonal, a border is crossed:
the geometrical complications of predominantly slanting and bent influences in
buildings can hardly be worked out by hand. However, the Eiffel tower has been
produced with the help of approximately 15,000 drawings, done by hand, of
mainly straight components with non-orthogonal endings. So, we no longer have
our hand in it, also by the conveniences of the straight T-square and the
orthogonal Modernism. In contrast with the shipbuilding industry, architecture is
capable of functioning without bent and slanting lines. Is oblique and curved the
trend of the moment? Working with the computer on these complex geometries
goes at the cost of valuable time by many, in preparation as well as in
realization: it takes a lot of energy and effort.


Fig. 171: 3D generated drawing by Bob Kleuters, Octatube.





The traditional building techniques were mastered by both designers and

builders. This brought rest and matter of course in the communication between
them. Both parties had acquired sufficient knowledge and experience to have the
building industry in all its elements be a known process. By the introduction of
many new techniques and components which are shut out of the communal field
of experience, however, the building process has become very restless. What is
more, it seems there is no way back anymore. Due to the common ruling
suspicion among ad hoc constitutional parties in the building team, sometimes
tangled together for one single building project like a Gordian knot, the learning
curve is not positive.
During the transition period from traditional & rational building to the
prefab & assembly building it is not surprising that certain knowledge and
experience get lost. This happens with every succession of generations. It goes
hand in hand with the introduction or the pushing through of newly developed
building techniques by the new generation. The senior generation will, at first,
look with unholy glee upon the lack of knowledge of the junior generation when
it comes to technique, but will thereupon be amazed to have to come to the
conclusion that after a period of learning the new techniques are being
mastered. With that, designers have the courage to make bold proposals, in
manners of working, compositions and details, by which they pull forward the
building technology considerably. This assumption is based on the designers
eagerness to learn about building technology. Of course, it will sink the ship if
young architects only occupy themselves with conceptional designing and not
with the preparation for the actual building.

Fig. 172 / 173: Manufacturing machines in steel shop.

The young generation of Building Technology students at Delft is taught, with the
help of all the usual workplace techniques, how to design prototypes of metal
faades, how to manufacture these themselves and how to test them. And these
designers will demonstrate in five or ten years how they have become
competent technical architects when materializing building designs, and


professional consumers with respect to the building industry. They look upon
architecture and building technology as one item which cannot be separated.
Ten years ago, this professional view on the future introduced the term product
architect: a designer of building products with architectonical ambitions. He is
cousin to the component architect, who designs and develops the components
of the building at the office of the architect, like the component designer does at
the design & engineer department of a special component producer and like the
product designer does for standard products. These young designers know that
for the development of new building techniques an inventor cum engineer is
needed between the architect and the engineering parties, who serves as
Jumping Jack between concept and building, in a renewing and surprising way
with a mixture of commercial, scientifical and artistic aspirations. Some industrial
designers try to converse the very limited choice of mass manufactured
consumer products into a broader choice for the consumer. The building industry
has traditionally always been directed mainly at the wishes of the customer. A
contractor usually builds exactly what his principal wants, he follows the
consumers wishes precisely. Producers in the building industry, particularly
system producers, know that only the additional requirements of the consumerarchitect complete the programme of requirements for the product in question.
With special products only a direct development between consumer and
producer can precede the manufacturing. In the building industry customising
or customer directedness has never been absent.
Indeed, this is the cause that the industrialization of the building industry
stuck fast at the level of serial prefabrication. A level of industrialization as is
usual with the production of cars, will never get started up in a comparable
manner in the building industry, because of the fragmentation of the order flow
and the diversification of consumer demands. Although standard products like
the smallest components are actually industrialized, this level of industrialization
recedes in the series Standard - System - Special. But the building industry has
its own charming way to work as rationally and efficiently as possible within the
given parameters. Components are often manufactured from trade materials
with the help of computerized manipulation machines. And when the series size
does not allow it, building components will be produced manually/mechanically if
necessary. The level of quality and costs of fully industrially manufactured
products will then, of course, only remain a wish-dream. Quality was,
traditionally, something which came about at the building-site and could be
checked there as well. With the introduction of more and more building
components which are produced outside the building-site, both designers and
builders have lost sight somewhat of the production manners. By moving the
place of production, both architect and contractor lost sight on the daily
supervision of achieving quality. The quality of the many components to be
prefabricated elsewhere depends on the quality assurance processes of the
involved producers. On the one hand, the lower thresholds of the building
industry cause few producers to take initiatives to develop new building products
and introduce them on the market, because there is only a small chance that the
products will be protected and a far greater chance of being copied by
competitors. On the other hand these lowered thresholds are a direct cause for


the enormous level of boredom which buildings reveal. Our built environment is
the literary result of spiritual poverty and lack of courage to take new initiatives.
This goes for the tendering party, the producers, as well as for the party calling
for tenders, the architects cum suis (advisers). And when new courses are being
taken, the vision from the party calling for tenders on that of the producing party
is often merciless. Many sacrifices are expected for a cleverly built feat. An
example is the bankruptcy of both the steel construction company and the
glazing company at Nicholas Grimshaws new Waterloo Station in London, while
the building itself and its architect are praised.
Conservative designers are of the opinion that sufficient materials and
techniques are known and ready to be used in the building technology. In
general the architect will be more selective and combining than being a reinventor of the wheel. Indeed, there is an over-supply of means to build buildings
with. However, means regularly fall out of use. Directed interest is capable of
completely brushing aside a matured technology and to direct itself at something
different. After twenty years of research and developments the concrete industry
knows how to make perfect parapets in washed clean concrete which will not get
dirty anymore, come rain come shine. Unfortunately architects are no longer
interested to propose this material for lining a faade. Bton brut is also hardly
used anymore. The knowledge of formwork carpenters to make timber formwork
for rough concrete exposures, has almost gone lost. The architects choice of
materials and techniques has a lot to do with what they want to express to
society through the building.

Fig. 174: Section and roof plan of Waterloo Station, London. Architect: Nicholas Grimshaw.


Fig. 175: Detail of the Waterloo Station.


Fig. 176: Waterloo Station seen from the station hall.

In the workplace environment it almost seems a contradiction for the increasing

immaterialization of electronic information flows via the uncheckable usage and
development of the computer to house them in their opposite: ultimate material
and heavy stony buildings. In there, hope for eternity is radiating. Sooner fine
building techniques, which are developed with care and intelligence, would be
considered for a contemporary expression. Large, washed concrete panels have
lost it from lightweight suspended faades, build up with sandwich panels from
millimetres veneer layered natural stones on a rigid aluminium honeycomb
structure. Sandwich panels have an energetic accountability without an
annoying warmth-accumulation. Glass panels get a growing insulation value, in
combination with a highly light transparent quality and a low transmission of sunenergy. In the future glass coatings will be developed with characteristics which
can adapt to seasons, as well as to the time of day, in reaction to the amount of
received sunlight. This adjustment of physical characteristics is done chemically
and does no longer need to be directed mechanically, like in the Institut du
Monde Arabe of Jean Nouvel, or architecturally like the brises soleil of Le
Corbusier and the beetling roofs of Frank Lloyd Wright. An irreversible
transmission can be traced in the interest in interesting aspects Building
Technology from Civil Engineering, where she leaned against for generations, to
Mechanical Engineering, which notably in faades, interior building, installations
and moving components of the building, begin to predominate more and more.
Faades and installations put together often make up more than half of the
building budget. Concrete load-bearing structures are functionally speaking still
of an essential importance, but to architects they are no longer interesting


because there is no designing in them. They have given up their sculptural

Through that the building technology has developed further, unfortunately
at the cost of necessary spatial quality. Which, by the way, does not mean to say
that architecture should become less sculptural. But more values get lost in the
delusion of the complex geometry. Architects who have always worked
conscientiously and cautiously for durable architecture and who used the
orientation on the sun as their starting point for an optimum spatial geography of
their buildings, now watch helplessly the orientation on the North for
photosensitive activities disappear as a consideration for designing in the
workplace environment. The home environment, on the other hand, aims far
more at logical duration and energy-economy. The individual needs more
protection than the organisation.
The growing demands which are claimed upon materials and components
with which buildings are being assembled will no doubt result in the going out of
use of certain materials. In general the material assembly will become more
complex in order to fulfil the growing demands of different natures. With the
increasing demands goes a longer duration of materials, often founded on
guarantees. On the other hand it can be stated that technical performances no
longer determine durations, but rather aesthetical or functional considerations.
Durably designed buildings will have to be adapted, long before their
technical duration of life is reached. In a way durable materials will provide their
own specific problems. How to re-use materials which still wear well, but never
again will be used in the same form of elements and components because
between use and re-use there is normally a generation of years and ideas. In
architecture, till the end of the Middle Ages, re-use of components always
occurred. Blocks of marble and purposely hatched natural stones were often reused as precious building stones for buildings of later generations, until the days
of prosperity and plenty made an end to this re-using. Today politics subsidize
conscience-easing developments to more durable materials in society. The
building industry, as a branch of industry in which materials already have a
relatively long duration of life, joins gladly in this way of thinking.
The growing ingeniosity to answer to higher quality demands brings along
an improvement of materials which are, for that reason, not so simple to re-use.
Coated glass with silicon edges in double glass panels pollutes the melting bath
of recycled glass so much, that a far much lower quality of glass would be the
result. Therefore, this coated glass is no longer recycled. Nobody wants to reuse the heavily reflecting silver-coloured and bronze-tinted glass anymore. So,
valuable material which could live much longer, is being removed as nondegradable waste. The future generation of coatings therefore has to be
degradable again or possible to melt down without problems.


Fig. 177: Faade of diafragmas (exterior), Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris. Architect : Jean Nouvel.


Fig. 178: Faade of diafragmas (interior), Institute du Monde Arabe.


Architects are in arrears because of their lack of knowledge of contemporary
production techniques of industrial and prefabricated building products,
compared to manufacturers. Manufacturers are orientated on results and
interested in the medium long and long-term survival chances of their company.
They lack knowledge and insight when it comes to architecture, their market.
They know more of the building industry and the building process. From their
point of view, architects complain that it is difficult to get data from producers.
The reservedness in the attitude of manufacturers also comes from the number
of times when they got no appreciation for their design inputs. The only way to
get a flowing stream of information going is to achieve a direct dialogue between
architects and manufacturers, based on mutual respect and trust. An architect
can, in general, shop only once at a manufacturers, the next time he will lack
the courage or will find the door closed. Innovations of building processes and
building products have to be well prepared. The main part of the innovation
traject has to take place outside the application process of the building project, in


a preceding or parallel development traject of the innovation system. Separation

of development and application of innovations finds its cause in the great
difference between thinkers and doers. The building industry knows many doers
and the thinkers are being forced to canalize and temporize their thinking. Few
principals will be willing to pay for innovative research with a somewhat more
fundamental character than the direct applicability. Not many main-contractors
will offer the opportunity for this. Innovation in an ongoing building process can
sometimes have the same effect as a stick between the spokes of a riding
bicycle. Headwork, preceding innovations in the conceptual design, are often
stimulated by architects by means of design competitions and magazine
publications. With main-contractors this is done by reflections on logistics and
organisation. Manufacturers work with material research and developments
which, next to the objectives of the company, aim at the rousing of new products
or the improvement of quality and prolonging the duration of life of existing
products in operation, building up or assembly.
With the increase of complexity of building tasks and buildings, there is
also an increasing work division for preparing and guiding the engineering of
building projects. Next to the complexity, a number of added advice and
management layers became a fact. These specialists, however, are only
capable in their autonomous fields and by this they burden the communication in
the process. Although every specialism contains autonomy and responsibilities,
in the building industry it seems to become a sport to throw responsibilities to
one another, from the calling to the tendering parties, from the first contracted
parties to the last contracted ones. This excess of participants with diminished
liability asks for order, back to a well-organized and manageable building
process. Concentration of authority and responsibility would clarify the relations
within the building team considerably. It is up to the architects to manifest
themselves strongly enough to take charge again of the revealing weeds of the
building management, and by so doing retrieve, for a great part, their earlier
position in the building process. This will only happen if the architect places
himself squarely before his task and accepts again full responsibility for the
growing importance of the process of, for instance, the attending and control of
building components drawings, made by specialists. The drawings of the
architect are insufficient for engineering purposes. Legally the architect takes no
responsibility for any measurement. Also on drawings of prefabricated buildings
and their components sometimes the phrase measurements in the work to be
taken before engineering still appears which is legally correct, but in technical
engineering is an incomprehensible anachronism. We will hopefully live to see
that the design- and builders estimate drawings in the form of discs will serve as
writing-pads for the drawings of all manufacturers and sub-contractors. The
architect will then have to take responsibility for the correctness of his work, in
the knowledge that other building team members will rely on it. The certified
architect will be introduced. In the end all quality assurances of all building team
members, as set in certificates ISO 9000/9001, must correspond. None of the
building team members will be able to withdraw from that, not one manufacturer
and not one architect. The formula of the building team is directed at cooperation, while the usual system of tendering and sub-tendering leads to


passive or even forced co-operation, whereby too much sand causes a

considerable slowing-down of the smooth running of the wheels.
The ever increasing perfection of the computerized manners of drawing,
challenges a greater spatial quality which can be calculated mathematically up
to an unprecedented high complexity level. As a result of this, the preparation
traject will win considerably in quality from complexity and refinement. If the
computer processings of the engineering parties and those of the architect will
be coupled, then the rapidity and accuracy of the describing of components in
working-drawings will increase as well. For orthogonal buildings goes that
every automation can mean profit in many respects. But particularly more
complex geometries will, with decreasing surplus energy, be laid down in partsdrawings. The step to the actual manufacturing will be considerable and the
assembly at the building-site will drop behind a good deal. The computer pulls
forward the preparation process, while production and engineering stay behind,
because these are more material and humane committed activities. As far as
the author knows, there is no building component in The Netherlands yet which
is placed automatized, for instance with the help of a barcode. Considerable
investments will have to be made in the engineering process, in order not to
lose the profit in spatial quality, as made possible by the computer in the
conceptual phase. The pioneers of complex, by the computer stimulated
geometries, like the architect Kas Oosterhuis, who in their design instrument
also find a stimulus to get to better designs, will initially have to take entirely in
tow their building team members of the engineering traject, in order to diminish
the widening gap between CAD and CAD/CAB (Computer-Aided Building).

Fig. 179: Provincial Floriade Pavilion, Haarlemmermeer. Architect: Kas Oosterhuis


Fig. 180: Provincial Floriade Pavilion (interior), Haarlemmermeer.


The work environment becomes more and more coupled to physical and virtual
information flows. Location and position with respect to pedestrians, cars and
public transport play an important part, buildings are alive thanks to the
infrastructure of the city. The information revolution with its unprecedented high
speed of development, will ever more quickly influence the discomfort of an
unchangeable building. Many facilities which a decade ago testified to a


foresight, like a computer exchange and computer floors, are being rendered out
of date by the great strides of miniaturization of the computer. Large, bright glass
faades for office spaces are, because of the great and blinding power of light,
no longer to be combined with working behind computer screens.
The significance of the faade-opening as a look-out possibility when using
computers, is decreasing. The relevant Safety & Health regulations can be
adapted. The current office environment gets a more and more pleasant
atmosphere by the partly turned-off neon lights. The building and the faade as
its visually most important part, will have to symbolize the evolving of the
organization with its time. The building becomes a three-dimensional
infrastructure, capable of growing with the changes of the twenty-first century.
Therefore, the faade as a metaphor is interpreted by many architects in their
own way and translated into a material design. The architecture of durable
building will doubtlessly result in a neutralizing and abstracting of buildings, in
order to give the entire building a longer life, functionally and aesthetically.
Buildings which are over-measured in floor space and volumes will, for that
matter, go along with changes of organizations and different visions on use
longer than in economically dimensioned and tightly cut-in buildings. This also
requires a change in the economic way of Dutch investment thinking.
The on-going developments in hardware and software of the computer
science technology may result in an increase of working speed, a greater
completeness of production and perfection of releases. The critical factors
remain, after the vision of the principal, creativity and imaginative faculties, the
search for spatial tension and unexpected surprises in the work of the architect.
Important are the knowledge, know-how and insight of the architect to choose
the most appropriate materials, elements and components and to know and
describe the artistic design of singular materials via various methods of
manufacturing. Designers with sufficient knowledge and skills, but without insight
and vision will increasingly be unmasked when the revolution in the designing
information science will have spent itself. Architecture is still about making good
and excellent buildings. It is the authors opinion that the architect must be
completely responsible for the entire building. This can be done on a continuous
basis if he watches over the entire building traject. Ad hoc project processing in
which at the same time the long term is not directed at, will not lead to a
consolidated body of knowledge. In those cases an equal surplus energy will be
necessary, which will eventually lead to loss of interest of the parties involved
and to a slowly disappearing out of sight the started search for a better quality.
Improved material assemblies, details and material performances require
a higher level of building technology than the mere geometric fiddling with the
computer. Engineering follows design, as an activity essential to come to a good
processing of the design. From a building technical point of view, the computer
designs of Bernard Tschumi are assembled from very conventional, if not to say
traditional elements and components. Spatially curved roofs in his designs are
build up from round rolled open steel profiles, while the building technology was
already far more developed into a higher level of refinement. Excellent in the
field of geometry, but not so in building technical assembly. The secret might be
that one can only spend ones money once, either on a complex geometry or on


a complex and refined assembly or structures, but not yet on both. Architects do
have the ambition to create the new spatial quality by means of new building
techniques, but for the time being they must reculer pour mieux sauter. First the
forward jump, later refinement in the striving to an intelligent form, an intelligent
assembly and possibly even an intelligent responsive building. That level of a
pre-programmed responsive intelligence of buildings is surely a prospect in the
near future if architectural technology will be intertwined with installation and
faade technology at a higher level.
In general, building becomes ever less massive and ever more influenced
by Mechanical Engineering. Even the concrete building industry will experience
its influences. As the bearer of all finished structures, increasingly higher
demands will have to be met by the concrete framework, in the sense of
strictness and tolerances. The precision of the concrete building industry cannot
remain what is was one generation ago. This requirement will influence the
manufacturing manners of concrete. It will lead to 3-D definitions and the
drawing of the framework after pouring or the dry assembly. There is an
increasing need for a defining party at the building-site as an independent
estimate activity, not forced by bad work, but as a necessary intermediary
between the building parties. Especially on the fracture in between rough
building and finishing stage many obscurities and non-fulfilments occur. In
earlier days the building surveyor did this job, but it is now taken off his hands.
The building parties have to be affiliated to the project-CAE, which watches over
and determines geometries yet to be built, a necessary step to CAB. In several
fields, the computer shall have to simplify local building (i.e. the pouring of
concrete) and the assembling of prefabricated components. A control function,
instigated by a specialist operator, in future mechanization, automation and
robotizing of a growing number of activities at the building-site, will be a prospect
for the computer.
The manufacturing techniques of building products and components,
which came into use during the last generation of industrial architecture, will
become available and absorbed as common knowledge. That will provide a
balance between the knowledge and know-how of the architect at a building
technical level, like it was known in the traditional and rational days. The current
tendency to escape into conceptual thinking because of the lack of knowledge
and insight in manufacturing techniques, and stimulated by the strive for
performance estimates will, after the injection of the present very mechanical
engineering-like production techniques, form a new balance again. The architect
has to regain his mastership of integration of all components into a building
which bears his view on spatial quality. The designing of buildings has to lead to
architecture with a highly functional and spatial quality and a long duration of life.
But, most of all, architecture has to be exciting, surprising and give us the feeling
of living in an exciting world.


Fig. 181: Parc de la Vilette, Paris. Architect : Bernard Tschumi.



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