A systems-thinking approach to explore the causes underlying the decision-making of premature demolition

More Info


This study aims to provide insight into the causes underlying premature building demolition to improve the understanding of demolition decisions that might help reduce the number of demolitions in the construction sector.
This study adopted a System Thinking based Approach and a case study. The methods explored a Dutch university building situation as a system focusing on three core sub-systems (components). They were Processes: the building life cycle, project life cycle, and decision-making process, Actors: project stakeholders, and Values: the causality in both components that impact decisions.
The overall findings in the case study showed several significant causes that can potentially influence premature demolition. They were: the lack of an overall real estate (campus) development perspective in individual building projects, the low importance of a sustainability perspective in: policy, planning and stakeholders, the low ability of renovation alternatives, negative perceptions of buildings related to outdated design and second-handed use, and an inactive involvement of end-users throughout the project.
These were predominantly social causes, especially related to the factors among end-users. For example, negative perceptions of using renovated buildings, demand for new buildings, and poor sustainability promotion. However, they were also interrelated to other causes, such as functional requirements conflict based on physical/technical issues and design demands for attractive and modern buildings.
Thus, demolition decisions may be influenced by a combination of various interrelated causal motivations, primarily social causes but also other causes, such as function and design; the results also suggest the importance of a holistic view in the decision-making situation as the system, in order to understand the root causes of premature demolition.