Reversible Architecture for a Sustainable Future. Finding out Key Design Guidelines in Early Disassembled Systems


  • Paula Jaén PhD Candidate ETSAM - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Keio University - Tokyo



construction process, disassembly, past, reversible, system


Natural designs are energetically optimal. As a part of this ecosystem, human actions are bound to be integrated in the biological cycle, leading to recover and reuse all we manufacture and produce, and properly return it back into the natural environment. In this sense, reversible and demountable architecture is one of the best answers to attend this proposal. Architects and builders are forced today to develop new ways of building. Instead of demolishing structures thus obtaining piles of unrecoverable rubble, there is the baseline option for building systems to be disassembled and their components reused, processed and reassembled. Therefore, existing buildings could serve as raw material, replacing the resourcing of the natural environment. Technically, construction consists in the assembly of pieces, and in this context, joints become the most important element in the definition of the building. Dry and mechanical connections, as those joints where pieces that are intact in form and dimension are connected, can be properly disassembled.


This research is based on the identification and the analysis of the main building systems with high potential of disassembly erected through time. The first stage is based in those systems built in the early ages up to the times of the Scientific Revolution. It is in ancient and traditional architecture where we find in a clear and obvious way the precise balance in the correspondence between elements, space, form and function, obtaining the proper integration for each environment. On the second stage it is intended to assess the evolution of each solution and to establish its connection with more recent ones.


There is no construction system that has completely disappeared after its invention. Essential innovative technologies remain active even they may continue to exist only in small areas, or only for supporting periodical renovations. Every construction system applied in the present supports its equivalence with another used in the past. Following this discussion, a careful reading of ancient architectural systems is able to provide the basis to define the design guidelines of reversible architecture for a more sustainable future.



Author Biography

Paula Jaén, PhD Candidate ETSAM - Universidad Politécnica de Madrid Keio University - Tokyo

Construction and Technology in Architecture