Where are the Architectural Qualities in the Architectural Process?

Where are the Architectural Qualities in the Architectural Process?

In an article from arkitekturnet.dk “Lovgivning og arkitektonisk kvalitet” http://www.arkitekturnet.dk/hastighed/0208jf.htm, Johan Fogh writes about an investigation among Danish people and their view on Danish architecture. He asked them to mention the names of great architectural buildings according to themselves, and not surprisingly all the buildings were built before 1955 with the exception of Høje Tåstrup railway station.  Johan Fogh thinks there are two problems in the architectural process today:

1)      A coordination explosion

2)      Too many quantitative legislations

Coordination explosion:

Monkey's Puzzle

Monkey’s Puzzle

There are too many people involved in the process and they all needs information and prove on their presence in the project.

The process of coordination takes over when the amount of people increases. Johan Fogh explains it by a mathematical equation in a visual “Monkey’s Puzzle”. A reason task is to put 3 x 3 = 9 pieces together, which indicates the complexity of coordination. In a mathematical equation there is 9 x 8 x 7 x … x 2 x 1 combinations. If we only increase the puzzle to 5 x 5 pieces, there would be 25 x 24 x … x 2 x 1 combinations, which is an enormously amount.

The complexity of many people in an architectural process can hereby become a coordination hell, but many architectural processes are like this today, which is why Johan Fogh calls it coordination explosion

Too many qualitative legislations:

130826_Architectural Quality_03

Architectural quality is an undefinable quality that relies to the totality – a holistic approach. This could be proportions, atmosphere and human scale. It is not possible to make a checklist on these parameters, which is why the legislations have made quantitative parameters that make architecture measurable. This could be ceiling height, distances and ventilation. The problem is that architects will make sure, that the building fulfills the quantitative parameters and do so without thinking about the holistic approach. The Johan Fogh thinks that the legislation phases out the architectural quality, and hereby creates a lack in the development of new architectural quality and new values in architecture.

My comment:

I agree with Johan Fogh. The lack of architectural quality in the upcoming buildings is the driver for my PhD project. I find it so sad that buildings do not appeal to the people working in, living in and passing by the buildings. It has been possible before, so why can we as architects not do it today?

I think Johan Fogh is correct in the thought of the coordination explosion. There are too many participants involved in the architectural process and the coordinators – if there are some of them – do not know how to take advantage of them. This is a part of the architectural process I will dig into in my PhD project.

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