Continuity: a defiant challenge for the Construction Process

A host of recent historical investigations concerning the Industrialization of the Construction Industry dealing with Eastern and Western European Countries over the Thirty Glorious (1948-1973) emphasizes how Modernisms and Modernizations were either etherogenous or uneven in spite of the Iron Courtain: from France to Soviet Union, from Promises to Menaces.
Once realized that similar conditions occurred during the postwar Europe were not merely affected and conditioned by the Cold War, but also by common social and political intents, the current debate about such a topic seemed to be focused upon the Renovation, Retrofitting or Demolition of these Built Assets deriving from the Prefabrication Age and Era: from the French Grands Ensembles to the Italian Corviale.
On the other hand, Prefabrication, Precast Building, Offsite, have been a long standing refused and blamed item, after that the urging pressure of the Serial Mass Production suddenly vanished.
Serial Simplified Options were absolutely neglected to be replaced by Unique Smart Solutions.
Nonetheless, the main issue to be analysed regards the original intents underlying such a Saga, as well as the ultimate and final reasons of its failure.
The Unavoidable became Unspeakable...
The crucial question entails the achievements pertaining to the European Construction Markets between 1974 and 2014, the Forty Glamorous, indeed: the main aim could be centred on the surge of leading keywords as Collaboration, Integration, Teamworking, etc. in front of the emerging organizational approaches to Design (from Total Architecture to Progettazione Integrale, i.e. Total Design) dating back to the Sixties and Seventies, bridging the appalling sunset of the efforts to Change the Paradigm and the arising Architectural Engineering tied to Archistars, etc.
This is quite a valuable intent and attempt because the Sustainable Digitization of the Built Environment, which is nowadays featuring the European and International Governmental Strategies, might be really disruptive as Mark Bew or David Ross Scheer, for instance, purport, but perhaps it conceals the ambition to (r)evolutionize the Construction Industry that the Decision-Makers unsuccessfully strove to attain during the Reconstruction of the Postwar Europe.
Mechanical Engineers, who championed Taylorism and Fordism, have been replaced by, or, at least, coupled to Information Engineers.
Notwithstanding the rise of some Large Architectural Practices and its Technical Consultancies, the tissue of Clients, Practictioners, Contractors remains highly fragmented and parcelled.
Furthermore, the Primacy of Individual Architects as Authors has been carefully preserved in front of the remaining Players, due to the impressive improvements of Smart Geometry, Digital Fabrication, etc, whilst elsewhere, the Digital Economy and the Digital Society gained the general attention.
The Policy-Makers observed how uneffectively the Construction Industry worldwide performed: the fascination of the Information Modelling, as a luring factor, did stem from the De-Carbonization-Oriented Policies, to be steadily evolve towards the need to fill the Productivity Gap.
That is the reason why Building Information Modelling resulted as a Key Driver from Europe to Australasia, from Singapore to Brazil, to be merged with Additive Manufacturing, Mixed Reality, Smart Cities, etc.
The Digitization of the Construction Industry, closely connected to its Environmental Performances, which follows other Manufacturing Sectors, being delayed a couple of decades, grew from unprecedented constraints, due to the crisis of the Public Expenditure and the related Interventions of Private Stockholders, Investors, and Funders.
The increasing Operational Costs of a Built Assets (Buildings or Infrastructures) caused a huge concern regarding the need of anticipating such a critical item within the Client's Strategic and Briefing Stages.
Operations became more and more driving according to the viewpoint of the Intelligent Clientship, forcing both Designers and Contractors (as well as Manufacturers and FM Providers) to take it into account from the very early beginnings of the Design Phases.
Although Building Information Modelling acts as the obliged Entrance Gate to the Digitization of the Built Environment, the main stake stays with Building Automation, causing the requirement to Designers to concurrently consider Behaviours and Operations.
Meanwhile, Building Management Systems evolved from its original contents, because of the surge of the Internet of Buildings, Grids, and Infrastructures: Telemetry sides Assembling.
Unfortunately, the transactional and traditional legal and contractual frameworks quite often imply that confrontational attitudes would be overarching, that responsibilities have to be allocated and assigned on a separate, individual basis, because the Distinction (or Separation) Paradigm avoids an Epistemological Ceasure: Identities must be kept, Con-fusion of Roles and Skills is not acceptable.
The debate occurred around the V2 Draft BS PAS 1192-2, which allows an Information Model performed during the Design Stages to be scratched and replaced by the Contractor definitely shows, as well as the notion of Federated Model, witnesses the same conclusion, how such a stance counts.
Obviously, someone argues that the meaning of the revised statements contained in clause 3.34 is simply addressed to manage the transfer of the Information Model's contents, without any need for scratching or duplication.
Moreover, the assumption that Information Management might be a mere Enabler in front of the Decision-Making Processes, that the Information Management could be distinguishable from the Design or Construction Management might be weakened.
On the other hand, Operational & Partenarial Contracting would force the Design Team Leaders to intertwin various and numerous perspectives (attitudes and ways of thinking) as early as possible in order to mitigate the default risks, which are iterative over the (Contractual) Life Cycle, involving the entire Supply Chain.
It means, first of all, that the Intelligent Client Organization's role is more and more accrued because, by means of the original Employer's Information Requirements, it acts as the leading entity of a Data-Driven Process.
Apart from commissioning the Design Package, the Client could try to devise some Behavioural Models and Patterns, throughout the Gamification (Game Engines).
This leads to the fact that the Client starts to configure the Service Design even before looking at the traditional contents of a Briefing Process, exploiting the findings of the previous Post-Occupancy Evaluations as well as of the Ways of Providing special Services.
The Connection Paradigm plays at this point a crucial role, because it urges to imagine how dedicated and special-purposed sensors suitable to monitor the Building Performances and User Behaviours might be positioned.
The Servitization of the (to be) Built Assets tremendously modify the approach to the Industry and its weight in terms of GNP, entering the Wealth & Healthcare Domain.
Moreover, the Simulation of Flows and Motions demonstrates how the Behavioural and Dynamic Constraints affect and forego the usual Room and Fixture Furniture & Equipment Data Sheets.
Such a rationale might be hardly consistent with the current Design Methods, although, for instance, Parametric and Computational Design seeks to trigger a Generative Process by means of Environmental Alghoritmic Scripts, etc.
The Ways of Generating Forms (and Functions) sources from Data Analytics (Gamification causes Metrics) flanking the Service Design to Architecture.
To be honest, Architects sometimes showed to be sensitive to a sociological background to be made close to the spatial lay-outs.
Anyway, there is an additional reason to the Architects to be prone to this path: it is keen to the transposition of the Client's Data Sheets to Digital Sketches and Conceptual Families, avoiding any mechanistic translation of the Creative Processes.
Building Informating Modelling should not resemble to a Lego-like mechanistic and poor Creative Process, as the customization of the BIM Libraries often highlight.
It is noteworthy to observe the transformation of the Design Processes from being Deterministic to being Probabilistic, due to the intimate Dynamics of the Whole Life Cycle: once again, Optioneering well deserves a mention.
Coming back to the debate on duplicated Information Models, it is reasonable that the expectactions of the Risk Mitigators regard the Continuity of the Information Flows as well as the Avoidance of the Information Losses.
Likewise, it is quite understandable that the Architects reject a truly Collective Authorship, because everyone into the Industry needs to find an Individual Maker, since the Renaissance birth and growth of the Representational Architect.
The Employer's Information Requirements and BIM Execution Plans can, of course, mainly make affordable a sort of partial and segmented optimization of the traditional practices, engendering an enhancement of Consistency and Productivity: the so-called BIM Maturity Level 2 in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
In this case, you have to wonder if the innovative technological solutions will be truly decisive: what it is doubtful.
The fact is that, unlike Governments, Finance could glimpse other benefits.
The Policy-Makers themselves, however, can see in the Digitization of the Built Environment a chance to generate some Social Outcomes, useful to obtain greater political and electoral consensus.
The impressive potential of the Sustainable Digitized Built Environment appears too important to be exploited only for pure selfish reasons.
Nevertheless the shift from BIM Level of Maturity 2 to Levels 3, as envisaged by the UK Digital Built Britain Strategy, echoing the German Industry 4.0 Policy, might be too radical to eventually trespass the threshold shaped and shadowed during the Glorious Thirty.