Building systems are generally understood as industrialized building methods, which involve a high degree of prefabrication, in order to reduce site work to a minimum. Further advantages are:
• reduced number of materials and components,
• reduced volume of materials and less wastage,
• simplified construction details and assembly procedures,
• greater accuracy and speed of construction.
In industrialized countries, in which these systems were developed and have reached a high degree of perfection, there is the additional advantage of reduced manpower, incurring lower labour costs and consequently lower costs of construction. This is rarely an advantage in developing countries, where labour costs are lower and the aim is to create more employment. Furthermore, the high capital input, quite often requiring imported machinery and equipment, makes industrialized production methods more expensive than conventional constructions (Bibl. 00.34).
There are, however, circumstances in developing countries in which industrialized systems are justified, for instance, in emergency housing and building in remote places. But, on the whole, complete systems of prefabrication will continue to be the exception rather than the rule in low-cost construction, while there is great potential in the development of partial prefabrication, dimensional coordination and simplification of procedures for the provision of higher standard constructions at greater speed and lower costs.
Complete rejection of industrialized systems is as short-sighted as the total disregard of traditional construction methods. Promising innovative solutions for developing countries always lie somewhere in between, as for example, fibre concrete roofing and the use of cement replacement materials produced from industrial and agricultural wastes.
Examples of Building Systems
In this book, the term "Building Systems" is dealt with in a broader sense. The section on Examples of Building Systems includes construction methods, in which the degree of prefabrication differs greatly, as well as traditional, conventional and innovative methods, in which the inherent qualities of a single material are well demonstrated.
Hence, the examples show systems with different objectives:
• systems that utilize only one material for the whole building,
• systems that improve accuracy and speed of construction,
• systems that combine the advantages of industrially produced components and those of traditional materials,
• systems that provide special protection against natural hazards,
• systems that utilize waste materials as alternatives to conventional ones.
A great number of other interesting examples could also be included, but the choice was governed mainly by the availability of information and the attempt to cover a wide range of materials and building techniques.
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