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Agren, R and Wing, R D (2014) Five moments in the history of industrialized building. Construction Management and Economics, 32(01), 7-15.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords:
  • ISBN/ISSN: 0144-6193
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2013.825374
  • Abstract:

    Industrialized building has drawn in ideas from many pioneering researchers during its decades of development; in this brief recapitulation we present some observations on selected moments in the history that have significantly shaped the approach to building construction. The first formative movement identified is prefabrication, as used by Joseph Paxton during construction of the Crystal Palace. Prefabrication inspired Frank Lloyd Wright’s American System Built Homes, and enabled the development of Le Corbusier’s mass production ideas in the Modern Frugés Quarter project. Early forerunners saw connections with the automotive industry; Le Corbusier developed a house called Citrohan and Buckminster Fuller wanted to create "houses like Fords". From prefabrication followed the concept of building in sub-assemblies, as showcased by Walter Gropius in his Törten estate; Konrad Wachsmann took this notion further into modularization and mass production with the creation of factory-produced panel and space frame systems. At much the same time Buckminster Fuller proposed the modular Dymaxion house, which included a functioning bathroom delivered in four pieces. In 1962 John Habraken presented ideas which led to what are now called open systems, suggesting standardized dimensions in the modularization in order to enable a wide array of choices for end-users. Even today not all the expectations of industrialized building have been realized, and it is instructive to look back at the origins of some of the fundamental concepts which form the backbone of this subject.