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Fabricating Architecture: From Modern to Global Space



This thesis lays a modular insight on prefabrication from an architectural production perspective. It is grounded both from a taxonomic standpoint, outlined from the modernist architecture inher-itance, with the housing problem as main vehicle, and from a semiotic, structuralist standpoint, out-lined from the linguistic/semiotic socio-cultural building blocks. It aims to clarify bonds between architectural production and an industrial sphere in the addressing of contemporary house require-ments, favoring alterity models (e.g. enacting flexibility or adaptability approaches) in detriment of more rigid control models (e.g. functionalist proposals), and endorsing a modular aegis. From there, a more general contribution is proposed to the debate about the role of architecture in a globalized world, in its inevitable epistemological evolution to a different place, re-fabricating itself. Thus, on a broader level, this thesis is about observing house prefabrication as a particular case of what can be architecture’s epistemological dialogue with the technological state and informational paradigm of a globalized world. On the origin of this thesis is a practical development of a case-study of house prefabrication for residential purposes with low or medium density, making use of a lightweight structural philosophy. Directly and indirectly, the case has contributed to real-world outputs such as the creation of a prefab construction company, building a real-scale house prototype, and a registered patent on modular construction. The initial work has nonetheless ignited several perplexities, namely in the historical relation of architectural practice with prefab methods and what it seems a subjection to social bias, or in the validity of some architectural discourses facing the idiosyncrasies of some seemingly inno-vative constructive practices. This questioning is manifested in a critical revision of the original case-study, particularly focusing on systematization aspects of the architectural production, but also in its historical, theoretical and critical framing. Thus, part of this thesis constitutes a clarification of the rationale that has led to the tangible developments (prototype construction and so forth), which is set with methodological purposes. Additionally, it constitutes an effort to bind architectural discourse with a practice where a prefab semantics can have a dauntless, unbiased existence.