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DETAIL 7+8/2017 - Serial Construction

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The Laws of the Series

In the 1920s, a group of architects in Milan came together to form a movement that would later be known as Razionalismo. Architecture, they were convinced, must adhere to the rules of reason. They propagated the notion of “pure rhythm”, which was reflected in the repetition of individual elements as a fundamental design principle.

Today, the relevance of serial production methods in architecture reach far beyond their significance at the time of Razionalismo. Repetitive structures can not only be found characterising the aesthetic appearance of buildings, they often play a decisive role in complex planning and construction processes, such as in the combination of individual modules or other industrially prefabricated elements.

In our July/August issue, we present contemporary buildings that embrace the notion of the series in a variety of ways. For our Documentation section, Burkhard Franke explores examples in which aspects of repetition is used both as a design element and with respect to construction methodologies. A new social housing project by Florian Nagler in Munich, for instance, is a hybrid construction made with prefabricated wood elements. Meanwhile, a student housing complex in Berlin that Holzer Kobler Architekturen built using shipping containers resist any sense of monotony despite their stacked arrangement. For the exemplary French social housing buildings by Poggi & More near Bordeaux and by PPA architectures in Toulouse, modular components likewise contributed to the reduction of construction costs.

Are buildings produced according to serial fabrication methods invariably cost effective? In our Technology feature, Frank Kaltenbach has compiled an overview of recent solutions in refugee housing. The majority of them needed to be built within a short time period and under high budgetary constraints. The ways in which serial production methods seem to be predestined for such demanding projects can be discovered in this issue.