3    Features of integrated building systems.


The important features of the systems that compose our field of interest, namely the "integrated building systems", are reported here.


- High variability in the design of the built space

Variability can be defined as the number of the designs that both are compatible with the system and satisfy the specifications of a building project. High variability provides many possible architectural configurations, among which the most appropriate one for each specific design problem can be selected. As a consequence, variability is closely related to the adaptability of the system in different architectural demands.


- Maintenance of high variability in different scales

The distinction between designs which are compatible with the system, is determined by scale-dependent criteria: designs having different small-scale features may be considered as identical in a larger scale. As a consequence, variability tends to decrease with the scale. The possibility to maintain high variability in different scales makes possible for the system to respond to needs and specifications that concern these scales.

The variability characterizing a design scale should not be drastically reduced due to constraints posed in a larger scale. However, such constraints are required if they represent design knowledge that increases the system's effectiveness.


- Integration of different systems of the building

Different systems of the building (e.g. structural system, HVAC, plumbing, energy management etc) should function in synergy: the function of each system should be enhanced by the function of the others. In addition, the assembly of each system should be supported—ideally emerge—from the assembly of the modules of the overall integrated building system, so that the total work time necessary for the production of the building should be smaller than the total work time required for the production of the partial systems, each one viewed in isolation.


- "Emergent" properties

The desired properties of the building should emerge rather due to the building system (see: "emergent properties"), than due to the design of each project. This approach reduces the time necessary for both the design and the construction of the building project, as part of the necessary work is incorporated in the building system.


- Developmental production procedures based on information reusability

The "developmental" paradigm includes a recursive bottom-up creation process, where large-scale, complex, specialized structures are composed by smaller scale, simpler and less specialized ones. During this process information is reused, as different specialized structures inherit the same information which has been produced in preceding compositional phases.

Regarding the construction process, elements of the building product—in each construction phase—can be used as production infrastructure. This reduces the external infrastructure required, making the construction procedure both simpler and less resource-consuming.


- Reduction of the social cost of the building project

The reduction of the social cost—including the cost of information—of the building project is consistent with social demands, as well as with the natural tendency of the system to function at the lowest "energy level" (here the term "energy level" metaphorically denotes the level of resources' consumption).


- Reduction of the consumption of both material and energy resources

Both the production and the usage of the building project require consumption of material, as well as energy resources. Reduction of the required consumption is directly related to the reduction of both the social cost and the environmental decay. Consequently it contributes to the adaptation of the building project in its social, natural and technical environment.


- Versatility of the built space

Built space should be easily modified. This increases the system's adaptability in versatile conditions, while makes possible the satisfaction of numerous different specialized needs.


- Exploitation of the potential of available production technology

The implementation of the building system should be possible in the current technological framework by a cost lower than the cost saved due to the system's benefits. Ideally, the building system should make optimal use of available production possibilities which otherwise would remain idle.


- Possibility of high-quality architectural space production

The quality of the architectural space depends on the quality of the material resources provided by the system, as well as on general space emergent properties derived from the system.