Framing Fragmentation: The Architect as a Master of Montage

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Contemporary industrialized architecture based on advanced information technology and highly technological production processes, implies a radically different approach to architecture than what we have experienced in the past. Works of architecture composed of prefabricated building components, contain distinctive architectural traits, not only based on rational repetition, but also supporting composition and montage as dynamic concepts. Prefab architecture is an architecture of fragmentation, individualization and changeability, and this sets up new challenges for the architect.

This paper tries to develop a strategy for the architect dealing with industrially based architecture; a strategy which exploits architectural potentials in industrial building, which recognizes the rules of mass production and which redefines the architect’s position among the agents of building. If recent developments within the construction sector imply a marginalized role for the architect, this strategy suggests a strong repositioning.

In Danish building practice the construction industry is increasingly organized within terms like ”systemized prefab delivery” and ”digital building”. The building is divided into separate parts or systems: skeleton, skin, services, internal cladding, etc. Each building part/system is being conceived, produced, delivered and maintained by different construction companies. Basically the building is being fragmented into separate parts living their separate lives. The architect has to deal with the fact that he or she no longer designs every single part and detail, but to a greater extend acts as a composer or director dealing with composition of prefabricated parts – working as a master of montage.

The strategy unfolded in this paper suggests the concept of layers as being a means to create architectural meaning and give character to an architecture of fragmentation. Layers are both seen as conceptual as well as material frames which define certain strong properties or meanings in the architectural work. Defining layers is a way of separating and organizing; it both defines and liberates.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHANGING ROLES; New Roles, New Challenges - Proceedings
EditorsHans Wamelink, Matthijs Prins, Rob Geraedts
Number of pages9
PublisherTU Delft, Faculty of Architecture, Real Estate & Housing
Publication date2009
ISBN (Print)978-90-9024641
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventChanging Roles: New Roles, New Challenges - Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands
Duration: 5 Oct 20099 Oct 2009


ConferenceChanging Roles
CityNoordwijk aan Zee


  • Role of the architect
  • Industrialization
  • Building practice
  • Systems
  • Montage
  • Design strategy
  • Layers

Artistic research

  • No

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