The Tools of the Architect

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Participation with the paper "The Danish Great Optimization (1945-75): Instruments and Tools to organize an Efficient Practice" Starting from the WWII the research field of “Architecture and Labour” has widely developed from the first addressing of three modes of production within the profession: the horizontal atelier, the vertical assembly line and the corporation (Hitchcock, Drucker, 1945-47). Scholarships that mainly combine modes of production within the architectural practices with changes and theories related to Labour. In this frame what it´s relevant to address here is the Organization for Efficient Practice, as it was named an early 60s inquiry on Architectural Record. I refer to all those “hidden recipes” published in manuals and specialized journals after the WWII that, while introducing prominent architectural practices, aimed to lead their peers to success focusing also the on the specific instruments, tools, and rules applied in the workflow by the architects. A part of the inquiry mentioned above series, another example of this was also the issue 8/1961 of the Italian journal Zodiac, where successful organizations from the US were promoted to an Italian audience as the basis to transfer the know-how on affairs management, and hopefully the same size commissions. The spotlight in the field of research has been, for many reasons, mainly focused on the United States, however also in Scandinavia, the dissemination of this sort of “toolkit” was widely promoted, in particular by Tarras Sällfors. Known as the father of the Great Optimization, the Swedish economist was able to change the mode of production of a generation of "white-collar" workers, also influencing the architects. My paper addresses this niche and considers the “Organization for Efficient Practice,” or Tegnestuens Organisation, referring in particular to the Danish case and to the set of instruments and tools codified for local architects to promote the best efficient workflow within their practices under the Golden Years of Welfare State (1945-75). Specifically, in this paper, based on my ongoing Ph.D. research, I look to some paradigmatic documents, collected with an archive work related to the architectural profession in that particular timespan. First the “Haandbog for Bygnings-Industrien” (Langkilde, 1937) especially in the chapter related to the instruments needed to optimize the architectural workflow. Secondly, the Architectural Exhibition “Tegnestuens Organisation” (Akademisk Arkitektforening, 1943) focused on how five leading Danish architects organized at that time their workflows and modes of production, showing detailed tools and instruments. Lastly the monographic publication in Arkitekten Magazine (1/1945) on the latter exhibition. Analysing the data collected through an interpretative research, I argue that the particular Labour conditions blossomed during the beginning of the Welfare State in Denmark, was shaping the praxis of architecture intentionally using as mean the dissemination of toolkit composed of successful strategies, instruments, and tools. This paper aims to show that those toolkits for the architects at that time were meant to transfer proficiency in the office organization as a basis to get also the one in the building constructions. The belief was that the organizational and the architectural ability were consequent, but I aim to demonstrate how they were clearly detached into the everyday praxis.
Periode23 nov. 2017
PlaceringDelft, Holland