Tryggestad, K, Georg, S and Hernes, T (2010) Constructing buildings and design ambitions. Construction Management and Economics, 28(6), 695-705.
This paper is available for free download until 31 January 2012.
Project goals are conceptualized in the construction management literature as either stable and exogenously given or as emerging endogenously during the construction process. Disparate as these perspectives may be, they both overlook the role that material objects used in construction processes can play in transforming knowledge and thereby shaping project goals. Actor-network theory is used to explore the connection between objects and knowledge with the purpose of developing an adaptive and pragmatic approach to goals in construction. Based on a case study of the construction of a skyscraper, emphasis is given to how design ambitions emerge in a process of goal translation, and to how, once these ambitions are materialized, tensions between aesthetic and functional concerns emerge and are resolved. These tensions are resolved through trials of strength as the object—the building—is elaborated and circulates across sites in various forms, e.g. artistic sketches, drawings and models. Given that initial goal accuracy is often seen as a key success factor, these insights have theoretical and practical implications for the management and evaluation of the construction project.