Centralisation of product design and the design process for housing

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: Over many years the housing industry has been criticised concerning its performance related to factors such as quality and cost. Together with the challenge of improving its capability in meeting individual customers’ needs, by means of effective production, this has resulted in a situation where companies look at other industries, such as manufacturing, in order to industrialise their products and processes. Swedish housing producers are today working towards finding more commonality in products and processes at the same time as the ability to deliver customized product and services is maintained or improved. In some cases this means an increase in central control of the design work carried out in project groups.This thesis presents a study of the design process for housing at a Swedish property developer, JM AB. Interviews have been conducted with three main groups of actors (project leaders, architects and sellers) connected to ten housing developments. A survey has also been sent out to these individuals as well as to other important actors. The main objectives of these investigations were to find out major actors’ attitudes towards the increase in central control of the design work, in general terms as well as in relation to specific design objects (windows, floor plans, bathrooms and basic structure) for the housing projects.The results show that the trend towards more industrialised processes by more structuring and standardising concerning design has had an effect on the design work carried out in project groups. There are positive as well as negative aspects, as well as similarities and differences in attitudes. These differences can be related to different roles as well as to geographical differences. Within this work a triangle has been developed for measuring and comparing different actors’ attitudes. The work further shows that adapting a more holistic view of the design process, by considering it as part of a firm’s product realisation process, could be a base for further developments