How new technologies can promote the reintroduction of traditional knowledge in the profession of a carpenter

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Schwarzmann, W. (2019). How new technologies can promote the reintroduction of traditional knowledge in the profession of a carpenter. Paper presented at the Space and digital reality: Ideas, Representations / Applications and Fabrication, Tallinn.

Publication type

Paper in Conference Proceedings


The ongoing transformation process driven by industry 4.0, will affect almost each and everything in our environment. This change may take several decades, however already today an impact on the daily work of a carpenter can be observed. In central Europe, new CNC-robots are installed in many workshops of carpenters. These machines provide quality and productivity at the current state of technology. Emerging from this technological change, benefits to production according to speed, precision and reliability can be expected. Besides these advantages, a process of transformation with regard to knowledge and tradition will occur that can be understood as the beginning of a radical transformation. Embedded in the theoretical foundation of the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) the profession of a carpenter has to be interpreted as being part of a constantly shifting network of relationships. Based on this social theory, it is possible to interpret the technological change as new driving force, which changes the perspective of this profession. In this paper we compare two case studies from different centuries. By taking a closer look at the manufacturing process of a ‘zig-zag’ joint, old and new technics are compared and evaluated. A focus is being laid on the integration of a CNC-joinery machine. Only by making use of these new technological solutions, a economic reintroduction of this ‘zig-zag’ joint was possible. Further-more the successful adaption of this joint was only possible because the carpenter could provide a specific knowledge, crucial for programming the robot and later assembling the material. Technology will make a carpenter faster and more cost-efficient, but without doubt, former core elements of his profession will be affected by a change. This research shall promote a further discussion for future developments how digital technologies and physical production might act together.


Organizational Units

  • Institute of Architecture and Planning
  • Sustainable Planning and Construction

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