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Lost Potentials? Unpacking the Tectonics of Architectural Cost and Value

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  • Eszter Sántha, Aalborg University, AART architects
  • ,
  • Marie Frier Hvejsel, Aalborg University, AART architects
  • ,
  • Mia Kruse Rasmussen

Despite increased awareness of architecture's potential to create social value by improving people's quality of life, demands for reduction of construction costs still dominate the contemporary building industry. Consequently, there is a discrepancy in the translation from cost to value in architecture, possibly counteracting vital potentials for social value generation. This problem requires a clarification of the link between the construction of architecture as detailed spatial invitations (gestures) and their potential social value, depending on users' responses to these invitations. Understood as a spatial pronunciation of specific construction choices, the present article tests architectural tectonic theory's potential, towards establishing such clarity. This potential is tested via post-construction interviews on two, strategically selected works by AART Architects. Using a methodological framework built on tectonic theory to identify the value intended by the architects in the form of key "intended spatial gestures", the interviews clarify how the actual construction seeks to impart this value to the users in the two cases. In conclusion, the article demonstrates how these intended spatial gestures reveal the trade-offs negotiated in the design process at a detailed level, hereby unfolding a critical tool for increasing social value potentials otherwise lost in the translation from cost to value.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Architectural Research
Pages (from-to)89-118
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2022

    Research areas

  • Case study, Cost and value, Intended gestures, Rethinking architectural practice, Tectonics

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