Performance of retrofit with ICT of social housing - Proving technology optimists wrong?
Paper in proceedings, 2018
The costs of social housing retrofit are critical for social housing companies, for efforts to build sustainable cities, and for society. Compared to available resources, retrofits are deemed costly, and there is a need to improve productivity. One approach is to realise digital integration and (partial) automation processes, creating more performative digital practices. However what digitalisation should target and its scope is difficult to decide. Even standard concepts like Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) have many variants. To capture the performance gain of digitalisation requires measurement methods, while most methods are designed for new built and production, and does not appreciate the costs and values that characterize retrofit using digital practices. This paper aims at conceptualizing a method for understanding performance in digitalized retrofit of social housing. A review of approaches to productivity, efficiency and performance is done. Values produced are multidimensional and cannot be reduced to costs per m2. Performance is proposed conceptualized as values produced for clients, tenants and companies, and then compared to costs and effects of the digital practices. The context is two phases of a large Scandinavian retrofit project, followed by a longitudinal study using a mixed method approach. The social housing consists of 900 apartments in blocks and in row houses at 70.000 m2. The refurbishment encompasses new bath rooms, ventilation and parts of the building envelope. A gradual VDC implementation is carried out, avoiding an ambitious overall implementation. The performance is dependent of hybrid ICT and organizational practices, where the interaction with tenants is important. It is therefore a hybrid set of factors that lever performance, including intense coordination among contractors, continual communication, interaction with tenants and the craftsmen's learning during production. The impact of ICT is more indirect. Technology optimism or not, It is not technology alone that improves the performance.