Kiroff L, Ostrowski P
It and E-architecture – a technological breakthrough, a techno knowledge race or a new paradigm in business?
Abstract: The impact of Information Technology on the growth of the knowledge society is profound. In an era when human intellectual creativity is highly valued, IT is a powerful tool enabling the analysis and development of ideas and concepts. Regarding IT as a means to automate business tasks aiming at some labour savings would be an extremely simplistic approach to a more complex concept. Designing systems that augment user capabilities, encourage further exploration and foster creativity will enable users to do what they have not been able to do before. Business environments where collaborative work relationships flourish become highly successful in the intensely competitive global marketplace. The synergy between IT and teams working together to accomplish mutual goals becomes the key to organisational performance.
The AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) industry in particular is undergoing dramatic changes due to the pervasive use of networked computers and multimedia equipment. The advent of the first PCs in the architectural profession in the early 1980s gradually started adding a new element of complexity to the architect’s job. The essence of the architectural work is the teamwork environment and IT is able to facilitate the design process and make project collaborations effective.
Our research focuses on IT and its impact on architectural team environments. Recent emerging trends that will be analysed include architecture firms’ collaborations on national and international projects (firms experts in particular building types associate with local or regional firms called “architect of record” commissioned for the contract documentation and the contract administration stages of the project). The Royal Sun Alliance Building, Metropolis Apartments, Botany Downs Shopping Centre, DFS Galleria (all in Auckland) are some NZ examples of international collaborations with the design coming from the USA and Australia and Auckland firms commissioned as “architect of record”. Such trends necessitate the use of new technologies like advanced digital communications and hence the unprecedented boom of project extranets, or project WEB sites, and the emergence of the WEB-based architecture. Highly sophisticated architectural environments are built around Intranets, Extranets, the Internet and Video Conferencing systems. This enables the integration of architectural design, business management and team collaborations through computer technology. As a consequence, traditional roles and responsibilities in an office environment will change dramatically with fewer lower level routine tasks being available. Continually updating skills through on-going education becomes a lifetime commitment for the highly qualified industry professionals and for the company as a whole. A large number of computer software applications become indispensable for the highly efficient everyday functioning of an office. Some of the most significant buildings of the 1990s like F. Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and S. Calatrava’s Extension for the Milwaukees’s Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA couldn’t have been made without CAD. Another interesting trend is the use of IT to define a building through its entire life cycle in a more comprehensive way. This covers not only the traditional design and construction phases of a project but also automated facilities management and even the building’s eventual demolition.
Our research methodology encompasses an array of primary and secondary sources of information – literature review, international case studies and projects both pre and post IT revolution, interviews with experienced industry professionals, hands-on experience demonstrating WEB based concepts in practice and individual professional expertise.
Research Outcomes and Conclusions:
· Although technology has given us numerous new tools to be more productive and innovative creatively, the amount of quality architecture being designed may not necessarily increase.
· It is academia that drives innovative uses of technology not industry. Academia has more time and resources to experiment and is not at the mercy of the vendors’ vision or how technology can or should be used.
· Computing is in a never-ending flux. This change, for better or worse dynamically drives the way we do business. The entire industry must seek out these changes, create them, challenge them, foster, adopt or discard them to suit.
· As object oriented CAD becomes more pervasive, more value will be added to the construction documentation. This value-add needs to be recognised and exploited.
· As technology pervades, the design process, regardless, remains relatively the same.
· Hierarchical business models and decision-making processes are no longer the norm. This fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and employee empowerment.
· Talent is talent. Technology is no substitute for it.
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Permission to reproduce these documents have been graciously provided by CSIR Building and Construction Technology. The assistance of the editors, Mr. Gustav Coetzee and Mr. Frances Boshoff, is gratefully appreciated.
N Marja & J Päivi
IS tools for knowledge management in public construction projects
Abstract: This paper focuses on the possible tools of knowledge management by exploring offered, needed and wanted knowledge. We study knowledge management by exploring how the tools are utilized currently in case projects in Finland and how new tools could improve the processes. We also aim to study what kind of obstacles there are for IS tools utilization. New ways of organizing work are resisted and people very soon become cynical and unintended consequences of techno change failure hinder the success of the new change efforts. It is important to be aware of this and change efforts should be implemented in project work by letting the practitioners effect the change and select the way of working. We also found that often ICT have positive effects on the challenges but that often there is a critical mass problem, where the benefits are not yet gained if there are not sufficient users.
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Permission to reproduce these papers has been graciously provided by the Technische Universität Dresden.