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Precision in architectural production

McVicar, Mhairi Thomson 2016. Precision in architectural production. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

In the professionalised context of contemporary architectural practice, precise communications are charged with the task of translating architectural intentions into a prosaic language to guarantee certainty in advance of construction. To do so, regulatory and advisory bodies advise the architectural profession that ‘the objective is certainty.’1 Uncertainty is denied in a context which explicitly defines architectural quality as ‘fitness for purpose.’2 Theoretical critiques of a more architectural nature, meanwhile, employ a notably different language, applauding risk and deviation as central to definitions of architectural quality. Philosophers, sociologists and architectural theorists, critics and practitioners have critiqued the implications of a built environment constructed according to a framework of certainty, risk avoidance, and standardisation, refuting claims that communication is ever free from slippage of meaning, or that it ever it can, or should, be unambiguously precise when attempting to translate the richness of architectural intentions. Through close readings of architectural documentations accompanying six architectural details constructed between 1856 and 2006, this thesis explores the desire for, and consequences of, precision in architectural production. From the author’s experience of a 2004 self-build residence in the Orkney Islands, to architectural critiques of mortar joints at Sigurd Lewerentz’s 1966 Church of St Peter’s, Klippan; from the critical rejection of the 1856 South Kensington Iron Museum, to Caruso St John Architects’ resistance to off-the-peg construction at their 2006 entrance addition to the same relocated structure in Bethnal Green; and from the precise deviation of a pressed steel window frame at Mies van der Rohe’s 1954 Commons Building at IIT, Chicago, to the precise control of a ‘crude’ gypsum board ceiling at OMA’s 2003 adjoining McCormick Tribune Campus Centre, this thesis explores means by which precision in architectural production is historically and critically defined, applied, pursued and challenged in pursuit of the rich ambiguities of architectural quality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: architectural practice precision
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 January 2017
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:35
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/97224

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