AGATHÓN | International Journal
of Architecture, Art and Design
ISSN (online) 2532-683X
ISSN (print) 2464-9309
The beginning of the third millennium has marked a period of unprecedented change for cities, architecture and product/visual design. Over the last two decades, economic, social and environmental causes have stimulated and conditioned research and production, directing them towards substantial paradigm changes, proposing new challenges to create more smart, more resilient, more responsive and adaptive, more efficient and more sustainable urban systems, buildings and objects – from nearly Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB) to Positive Energy Architecture (PEA) – designed and built faster, with lower costs and with a positive effect on the environment, society, health and productivity: more innovative, in a nutshell. It is a common knowledge that innovation is, now more than ever, the tool needed to recover from the global economic crisis, to aim for economic prosperity and quality of life improvement, to increase productivity, to foster competitiveness, to support the challenge of globalization and environmental sustainability, both at an ‘incremental’ level (improvement of an already existing production process) and ‘radical’ (to create a new unmatched method or production system).
In this regard, AGATHÓN deals with the subject of ‘Pro-Innovation | Process Production Product’ with the aim of collecting essays and critical reflections, researches and experiments, projects and creations (of new architectures, recovery and restoration interventions, art and product/visual design) that might be case studies for innovation, sustainability and social inclusion, describing the subject: 1) Process Innovation as sequence and organization models, management and control of the process stages, operating methodologies (ideational, design, productive, operational, management and of disposal of the work/product) of the whole life cycle of the artifact; regulations; new professional experts and technical skills; ways to involve professionals and users in the several decision-making stages, etc.; 2) Production Innovation, i.e. tools suitable for the optimization of the different stages of the production process including machines and robots for digital manufacturing (CNC milling, laser cutting, 3D printing, etc.), for prototyping and for prefabrication, relating to analysis and design/simulation software (also with virtual reality) CAD and CAM, BIM, digital, parametric, algorithmic and generative, environmental, structural, energetic and thermal; installation and assembly techniques and technologies, etc.; 3) Product Innovation, i.e. smart, advanced, composite, recyclable, sustainable, nanostructured, shape-memory, phase-change, self-repairing, responsive, adaptive, low-cost and high-performance materials/components/objects with a low environmental impact; automation, detection, management and control equipment for performance optimization; ‘passive’ technologies for efficient casings, including natural ventilation and cooling systems, water collection, storage and recycling, and off-grid renewable energy production.
This was the introduction of AGATHÓN’s Call Number 5, asking to investigate with essays and critical reflections on the innovation processes of the product and on the innovation of the process itself. In the Focus section, the introduction essays report the personal contribution of the renowned scholars we have invited. Specifically: Giorgio Giallocosta (Full Professor of Planning and Organization of Production at the Department of Architecture Design and Construction in Genoa) about the problems caused by the current ‘systems of complexity’ that characterize the building industry, he outlines some features, background and problems of the innovation of the process and product; Francesco Zurlo (Full Professor in Industrial Design and member of the Design Department of the Polytechnic University of Milan) highlights how, over the past few years, within the debate on Design Thinking, an interest in Creative Confidence has risen, which if, on the one hand, facilitates overcoming resistance to change, on the other, needs the creation and absorption of cultural codes and models, the assimilation, in a nutshell, of a new ‘project culture’.
The selected papers create a framework dealing with the subjects and the different aspects listed in the Call. Starting from the new concept of systematized building production and a new vision and theorization of the principles of seriality, modularity and standardization, this issue of AGATHÓN reports scientific papers that investigate the digital management of the process and the need to train new professionals able to perform organizational and managerial tasks and roles. Other papers deepen the subjects of: the life-cycle on the method of selection and obtaining bio and eco-compatible materials; the experimentation on rammed earth improved with ‘green nanotechnologies’; the re-use of plastic materials; the development of industry 4.0 in investigating the possibilities of coordination between the systems for the integrated management of the design process (Building Information Modeling) and tools for rapid prototyping (Computer-Aided Manufacturing); experimentation on the machine learning algorithms for learning neural networks from BIM, aimed at generating augmented reality; of UHPC cementitious mixtures (Ultra High Performance Concrete); devices capable of measuring air pollutants and reporting them live on an open-access detailed map; the reuse of stone scrap material.
Many proposals and new visions of the process, its management and building production, showing new paths for innovation and professionals. But, at the same time, they also make us think on the (possible) loss of a cultural and technological knowledge that considered the designer as the one holding a global knowledge that nowadays seems to be increasingly fragmented.