Building Maintenance Supervisors: The Stabilization and Production of Space 2014

Master Theses

We are all very aware of how important it is to get along well with the building maintenance supervisor. They open and close doors in more ways than one. Superintendents are responsible for the care, maintenance, and upkeep of buildings. They deal with the planned ideas of use and know what they are like in the reality of everyday life, mostly from a holistic and very specific perspective. Maintenance superintendent take care of things. They are either enablers or hinderers

This work addresses the specific ratio of a building’s qualitative transformation through the building maintenance supervisor actor. We will use eight case studies to examine this in more detail.

The Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (Federal Institute for Vocational Education) BBIB defines the job of building maintenance supervisor not as a profession but as an activity. The observation focuses therefore on the activities of building maintenance supervisors, on what they do day-to-day. The open coding of the collected material results in four categories of activity: The being, the watching, the doing, and the saying: These categories are woven together in one or several parallel action processes. Within these processes, the building maintenance supervisor, as acting individual, makes evaluative decisions. These decisions might be made strategically or tactically within a strategy. The motives of their actions can be very different.
Building maintenance supervisors take on responsibility. No matter what decisions building maintenance supervisors make, they always have an impact on the social space. Either perceivable physically or mentally. Building maintenance supervisors cannot not transform space.

The decisions are based on a triangular structure of power consisting of the building maintenance supervisor, the owner / employer, and the user. The building maintenance supervisors are also mediating between actors and actants. If a space is perceived stable by all actors, it has much to do with the work of the building maintenance supervisor. The presentation of such a very specific space produced by a building maintenance supervisor will illustrate the role as mediator.




Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber


Professor, Urban Anthropology and Ethnography

Prof. Dr. sc. techn. ETH Michael Koch


Urban Design and District Planning