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Scholarship of Design
Dream or Dilemma:
The Unconscious Construction of the Modern House
Ted Cavanagh
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Over time, balloon-frame construction has been debased, promoted, and then submerged into a collective cultural unconscious. In the nineteenth-century, diverse methods of house construction gradually combined into a single way of building. This created a “massive system”—a type of practice that technology historian Thomas Hughes describes as ubiquitous and resistant to change—including every point of material production to every scale of application, from forestry to urban design, including many unsustainable practices. How will things change? Either the system will adopt token improvements or there will be radical change, perhaps returning our ways of building to more diverse practices of construction.

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