Extruding Architecture

This journal is devoted to a quest that I began in 1969, the object of which was to create the built environment with construction robots rather than people. It has been a lifelong quest for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Factories and Craftsmen...

Factories tend to be many magnitudes larger than the thing that they produce. Teams of craftsmen, on the other hand, can be very small when compared with the things they produce.

Factories tend to produce a single item in large numbers. Teams of craftsmen tend to product one-off items.

Factories can produce things cheaply while teams of craftsmen typically can not.

George Romney's idea was good. His notion of what a factory was, however, was a little too conservative.

There is another way.

Automate the craftsman.

Until the last two centuries the tools and materials that one used to build buildings had changed little since Roman times. Indeed, virtually the entire contents of a craftsman's tool box from as recently as sixty years ago could be readily identified on Roman frescoes and carvings two millenia old.

About a century ago, we began to power these tools. The productivity of individual craftsmen improved dramatically. That process has continued to this day. Indeed, a visitor employed in construction to a construction site in Europe or North America is invariably struck by the very small number of people on a building site. Powered tools have made that possible.

Craftsmen have always been highly trained, scarce and well-paid individuals. They can apply their skills effectively to a large number of very different situations. Contrast the craftsman with the situation of the classic factory worker described here...

As the individual work tasks became simple and repetitive this allowed the use of unskilled laborers who could be quickly trained for a single task (though it also removed most of the satisfaction that a worker performing multiple tasks may enjoy).

Factories enabled industrial designers to reduce complicated tasks hitherto attempted only by highly skilled craftsmen to a series of much simpler to learn skills that could quickly be taught to less capable, and thus cheaper to hire, workers.


Post a Comment

<< Home