Mass-Customisation: a new customer-based approach in building industry

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Construction industry has sustained a great leap overwhelmingly during the past 30 years. A great deal of time and effort has been put to nurture architecture theoretically and pragmatically. Despite that fact it seems that the improvement in rather practical aspects of constructing (a building) as a human artefact is still lagged far behind other industries. This is, as M. Pawley suggests, because: "The reason you get better products out of the car industry, aerospace and racing yacht design is because they are all businesses that depend on performance to succeed. In architecture successes doesn’t depend on performance but on value. To get better performance you need a lot of research and development – to get value you need only scarcity." (Pawley 1990) It is apparent nowadays that great attention is drawn to a process-oriented architecture in which the final product is supposed to perform in a more rational manner ever. The paradigm shift has been already formed and is going to affect different aspects of the built environment in terms of the product and the process. No more, as some day M. Graves asserted in “A Case for Figurative Architecture”, in any construct, architectural or otherwise, will technique, the art of making something, play just a simple role. Some recent attitudes and movement in contemporary architecture aimed to apply other industries’ outcomes into building industry. This has been formed not only in terms of new materials and products which has been first invented and employed in the pioneer industries but in respect of emergent approaches, techniques and the process as well. About a hundred years ago, Henry Ford, a mastermind in business and industry designed and produced a product which revolutionised the way of our life ever after – it was nothing than Ford model T. Although the product which was first produced around 1900 affected the American lifestyle ever since, the indirect legacy, which was set by it, seems not only to survive historically but to get widespread even more widely geographically; Mass-Production. During the late 50s and early 60s Mass-Production showed that it could not be liable anymore to serve the market as it was heretofore. As a descendant to Mass-Production, a new notion was born mainly to computer industries – the notion of Mass-Customisation. “Mass Customisation is defined as the mass production of individually customized products and services. In its more sophisticated form this means meeting each customer's individual wants and needs exactly, but at prices comparable to those of standard mass produced goods.” The paper will have a short survey on the history of production methods through other disciplines i.e. car and manufacturing industries. Then it will mainly attempt to introduce the notion, its philosophical backgrounds, its different aspects, and the use of it in other industries. Finally it will shortly address its benefits, the feasibilities and restraints in its application to building industry.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 13th IRCE 2005 (Iranian Researchers Conference in Europe)
Place of PublicationLeeds, UK
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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