Higher Education Institutions, as traditional research centers, produce information and innovative ideas yielded from their research activities. Recent technological advances that enable the materialization of architectural forms that are created from the collaboration of the designer and computer software have radically changed the way not only architecture is conceived but also the way that architectural ideas become buildings through their manufacturing and fabrication. However, academia continues its perpetual search for the new, in isolation, and away from realities that are entailed in the actual production of buildings. This is also a reality due to the limited, if at all available, infrastructure and equipment for testing traditional universities can afford to have at the disposal of their researchers.
On the other hand, the building industry, irrespective of the scale of the enterprise, use computer software to a great extent to mass customize their products according to certain specifications using cutting edge technologies and techniques, and has the necessary infrastructure, equipment, machinery and tools to invent and test new techniques and new materials with a specific genetic code to respond to the occasional needs of a building. However, it cannot consistently follow the shift of paradigm in the way architectural ideas are conceived and demand a continuum to become buildings, the paradigm promoted at schools of architecture nowadays.
Practicing architects, those who are actively and solely involved in the design and construction of buildings, have to try hard to be updated on the technological advances of the industry and have no access to the innovation generated in academia.
This new reality reinforces the establishment of information flow between schools of architecture and the building industry. Nowadays, it is possible for a file to arrive at the factory for an idea to become a building with the building components all designed and calculated with no further interference between the designer and the factory. This new approach to the design and the constructability of an architectural form reinforces and necessitates new perceptions of communication among those who perceive architecture and create architectural form from an academic point of view and those who perceive construction and create building components from the point of view of the industry. It is crucial that this information as developed from both sources has to be communicated between them in order to enhance, enrich, fertilize and advance the work of both.
Research undertaken in the framework of ENHSA Socrates Thematic Network (www.enhsa.net) on the competences graduates should have was carried out among practicing architects and academics. The inquiry indicated that architecture graduates have limited knowledge of the pragmatics entailed in the real building production, a necessary asset according to both groups of respondents. This could be attributed, to a large extent, to the lost or never established channels of communication and flow of information between schools and the building industry. Moreover, five workshops (2002-03-04-05-06) among construction teachers in European schools of architecture supported the same view (www.enhsa.net).
Continuum aims at reinstating these channels of communication between the academia and the industry. This will be achieved by getting schools of architecture to realize the implications of real world targets and by getting small to medium scaled enterprise to realize the potential of real innovation.