Architecture and Building Process

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Prof. Sacha Menz

Excursion to the Europaallee in Zurich, Building Process: Construction Phase elective course.

The Chair of Architecture and Building Process equips prospective architects with the skills they need to successfully position themselves as generalists in architectural practice.

In our teaching, we link the foundational knowledge gained in core subjects with topics such as acquisition, building economics, definition of services, and design coordination in order to instill students with an in-depth understanding of the building process and the importance of integrated architectural design.

In our research work, we investigate economic and construction-related conditions that shape the building process in order to arrive at strategies for fostering a sustainable building culture in Switzerland.

Research Focus: Low Cost – High Quality

Within the scope of the research focus Low Cost & High Quality, our chair is currently exploring various aspects of residential construction from the standpoint of costs and quality. Today's growing awareness and relevance of economic factors in architecture mirrors in many ways the concerns that initially sparked an interest in residential construction research during the 20th-century Neues Bauen movement.

The unavoidable economic component of architecture is central to the client's decision-making process. Particularly in the case of residential construction, the primary aim is to minimize costs while maximizing quality. Even so, the potential for cost-effective solutions at the programmatic and conceptual levels often remains unexploited. The focus generally doesn't turn to minimizing the overall construction costs until the selection of materials or a suitable construction method is on the table, giving rise to the notorious rounds of cost-cutting that sacrifice quality solutions in the name of profit margins.

Research Project: Building Type – Building Costs

In recent years the dynamic in Swiss residential construction has shifted considerably: whereas just a few years ago row houses and blocks with apartments leading off an external corridor were widespread, today's new residential construction is dominated by apartment blocks of three or more units per floor grouped around a common access point.

We are interested in exploring the varying characteristics of different residential building typologies and their impact on production costs as well as land and energy consumption against the backdrop of this shifting residential landscape.

At present we are evaluating twenty completed residential projects from the standpoint of production costs as well as project-specific factors related to morphology, volumes, surface areas, parking, apartment types, construction, schedules, and project organization. The collected data is being analyzed and compared in several related sub-studies.

We are particularly interested in finding out to what extent, if at all, it is feasible to draw reliable, informative, and relevant comparisons between residential buildings &ndash and if so, according to which principles. Rather than measure the projects against a benchmark, our aim is to develop multidimensional profiles of key characteristics that take into account the divergent interests of the stakeholders.

Our ultimate objective is to identify key factors affecting production costs in residential construction projects. These factors will then be used to develop a cost estimation model for the preliminary phase that provides an accuracy of under 15% (pursuant to SIA 102).

Image of "Drei Bücher über den Bauprozess"  
"Drei Bücher über den Bauprozess", Sacha Menz (Hrsg.), vdf Hochschulverlag, Zurich 2008,  ISBN 978-3-7281-3213-0.
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Thu Jul 27 16:53:39 CEST 2017
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