ARC423 Advanced Building Systems

LECTURE: System

Link to ARC423 index page.

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SYSTEM: A WORKING DEFINITION
From the Greek, systema; Latin, systema, French. systeme:
to place together.
  • an assemblage of objects united by some form of regular interaction or interdependence; an organic or organized whole; as, the solar system, irrigation system, water system.
  • the world or universe.
  • the body considered as a functioning organism; as, my system needs toning up.
  • a set of facts, principles, rules, etc. classified or arranged in a regular, orderly form so as to show a logical plan linking the various parts.
  • a method of plan of classification
  • a regular, orderly way of doing something; order; method; regularity.
  • a number of bodily organs acting together to perform one of the main bodily functions; as, the circulatory system, digestive system.

From Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, second edition.

The above definition tends to break down into two types of applications:
  1. Intangibles, such as principles, rules, procedures and methods.
  2. Tangibles, such as products, including cars, planes and buildings.
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For our purposes, a system requires two things: 1. At least two clearly identifiable elements or components

2. A specified relationship that orders the elements.

Note that a system may itself be viewed as an element in a larger context. In other words, a system may have sub-systems as elements. This "nesting" of subsystems can continue with subsystems inside of subsystems. The end of the strategy is the component, an element that cannot be reduced into any smaller parts or components.
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As building technology has evolved we have witnessed a proliferation of systems for two primary reasons: 1. New technologies have added new systems (from plumbing to fire suppression to telecommunications).

2. The refinement of existing technologies has made systems more efficient by more narrowly targeting the purpose of the system.

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Coleman's Theorem #1 1. Every formal proposition (spatial, compositional, esthetic proposition) has a technical implication.

2. Every technical proposition (of material, assembly, process, or technique) has a formal implication.

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Last update: April 09, 2003. Copyright 2003 Bruce M. Coleman
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