Precision in Architecture : Certainty, Ambiguity and Deviation book cover
1st Edition

Precision in Architecture
Certainty, Ambiguity and Deviation

ISBN 9780415789615
Published May 17, 2019 by Routledge
280 Pages 100 B/W Illustrations

USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book offers a detailed insight into the desire for, and consequences of, precise communications in the daily life of contemporary architectural practice through close readings of constructed architectural details by Sigurd Lewerentz, Caruso St John Architects, Mies van der Rohe and OMA.

In the professionalised context of the contemporary architectural profession, precise communications – drawings, specifications, letters, faxes and emails – are charged with the complex task of translating architectural intent into a neutral and quantifiable language which is expected to guarantee an exact match between the architects’ intentions and the constructed result. Yet, as any architectural practitioner will know, it is doubtful whether the construction of any architectural project may ever exactly match all written and drawn predictions. This book challenges claims to certainty which have been attributed to such communications from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and critiques ongoing expectations of certainty in contemporary architectural production.

Table of Contents


Part I: Two Projects 

1. A Precisely Ambiguous Wall 

2. The Mortar Joints of St Peter’s

Part II: Interpretations of Precision in Architecture 

3. Defining Precision and Ambiguity

4. Disputing Precision 

5. An Emerging Desire for Precision 

Part III: Four Projects 

   The 1856 Iron Museum and the 2006 Museum of Childhood

6. A Precise Specification for an Iron Museum

7. Anticipating Precision at the Museum of Childhood

   A Meeting between Mies and OMA

8. Deviation at the Commons

9. A Precisely Crude Ceiling at the MTCC

10. Productive Deviations from Certainty

View More



Mhairi McVicar is a Reader at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, UK and practiced architecture in Chicago, London and the Orkney Islands. Her research, critically examining intersections between architectural theory and architectural practice, has been published with Routledge and Architectural Research Quarterly.