Perhaps typically of me, this book was triggered by questions I was asked over the years about information, representation, digitization and management. The more I quoted standard answers from standard literature, the more restless I became because I perceived a lack of coherence in my answers. There seemed to be too many holes and grey areas, and, rather more worryingly, too few connections between the various parts of the underlying body of knowledge.
This led to a number of fundamental questions I had to ask myself before attempting to answer what others asked me. I tried to understand one by one the multiple layers and aspects involved in the phenomena that intrigued me, without losing sight of the whole. Thankfully, I was able to find enough enlightenment on these layers and aspects. There have been quite a few clever people who have attacked the same questions before me and managed to come up with convincing answers. My own contribution lies primarily in the interpretation of their theories and the connections I suggest between them and with the domain of buildings.
Note that in contrast to earlier publications of mine, I talk about buildings rather than architecture. The reason for doing so is that buildings and built environments have a larger scope than architecture, as suggested by the relation between the Dutch terms ‘bouwkunde’ and ‘architectuur’: the latter is a specialization within the former. It is unfortunate that both are translated into English as ‘architecture’ (the less said about terms like ‘building science’ the better).
I am grateful to the people who formulated the theories discussed in this book. I have learned a lot from them. In a more practical sense, I was also assisted by a number of people who merit a mention and my profound thanks: Monique de Bont for the meticulous copyright control; Saskia Roselaar for her thorough and insightful proofreading; Michiel de Jong for giving me the opportunity to publish this book as an open textbook and for managing every step of the production process. Polyxeni Mantzou, Paul Chan and Thanos Economou reviewed the book. I am indebted to them for their time and constructive criticism.
On May 1, 2019, a group of students who follow the Information Management course in the MBE master track at the Faculty of Architecture & the Built Environment (Faculteit Bouwkunde, in Dutch), Delft University of Technology, will be the first to use this open textbook. I hope they will enjoy working with it and thank them in advance for their tolerance of any mistakes that may have slipped through in this first edition.