N. John Habraken (john@habraken.org)

Open Building; brief introduction


Open Builiding is the term used to indicate a number of different, but related ideas about the making of environment.

For instance:

The idea of distinct Levels of intervention in the built environment, such as those represented by 'support' and 'infill', or by urban design and architecture.

 The idea that users / inhabitants may make design decisions as well.

The idea that, more generally, designing is a process with multiple participants also including different kinds of professionals.

The idea that the interface between technical systems allows the replacement of one system with another performing the same function. ( As with different fit-out systems applied in a same base building.)

The idea that built environment is in constant transformation and change must be recognized and understood.

The idea that built environment is the product of an ongoing, never ending, design process in which environment transforms part by part.

Those who subscribe to the Open Building approach seek to formulate theories about the built environment seen in this dynamic way and to develop methods of design and building construction that are compatible with it.


Formal entities

In the Netherlands, a not-for-profit 'Open Building society' was instituted in the eighties to pursue the implementation of the 'support / infill' approach as earlier advocated by SAR. This society was active until the year 2000, when it was decided that its goals were now sufficiently accepted by the government and industry.

Parallel, in other countries like Japan, Finland, the United Kingdom and US, similar groups found each other. This was reason for Wim Bakens, secretary general of CIB ( International Congress of Building industries) to encourage, in 1996, the constitution of a international task group TG26 to study the topic. Seiji Sawada from Japan, Stephen Kendall from the US and Karel Dekker from the Netherlands brought together an international group of enthusiasts in Tokyo to kick off twice yearly meetings. In 2000 the task group was formally converted in a permanent Work group W104. under the present leadership of Stephen Kendall (skendall@pipeline.com) USA, Kazunobu Minami (kazunobuminami@now.mfnet.ne.jp) Japan, and Beishi Jia (jia@arch.hku.hk) Hong Kong.


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