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In the vein of mass production, manufacturers leverage repeatable parts and modular construction in an effort to maximize quality control while driving building costs down. Non-standard components of a building’s facade that do not conform to the module are often created by fabricators who specialize in customization. With a unitized building skin that may be designed with continuous differentiation, opportunities for creating standardized solutions that transcend the particular project’s scope become time and/or cost prohibitive. As a result of generating such project-specific solutions, an enormous amount of time and effort lives and dies with the project. The purpose of this paper is to argue for the assimilation of the best qualities and potentials of these two modes of production, standardization and customization, while resisting both the ‘mass production’ and ‘custom fabricator’ models of creating building facades. In terms of manufacturing, this may be achieved by developing repeatable processes while eschewing the traditional crutches of ancillary infrastructure such as molds and sheet goods. Processes build on a suite of materials that can be fluid-applied. Materials are deposited, transformed, and removed using building-scale, algorithmically programmable machinery, capable of creating continuously differentiated parts across a diverse range of projects. The paper will review case studies of recently built projects to capture and communicate methods, failures, lessons learned, opportunities, and successes.
For the context of this paper, sculptural facades are understood to be the product of panelized building envelope systems wherein, at a minimum, the exterior-facing surfaces of each panel are
The 20th century model for manufacturing was mass production, producing large volumes of repeated parts at the lowest possible cost. Due to the focused attention on solving the problems of
Custom fabrication is often a process-intensive approach with a relatively long schedule and high cost, but can yield a bespoke, one-of-a-kind project that lends itself to being finely tuned to
Clearly there is much to be gained from the domains of standardization and customization in developing a hybrid, systematic approach to mass customization. In terms of manufacturing, this may be
The TVFCU Bank in Chattanooga, TN, manufactured by Branch Technology, represents a first known instance of a building facade project that was born out of a systematic approach to mass
It has become clear that in order to bring a systematic approach to mass customization to the market, one must still lean heavily on standardization. Leveraging repeatable processes through digital
The research for this paper was supported by Branch Technology, and largely stems from reflecting on the lessons learned, goals achieved, and opportunities for improvement in the work that was completed at the service of the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union project in Chattanooga, TN, and the Monroe Parking Garage project in Huntsville, Alabama.
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