Introduction (excerpts from project brief drafted by the tutor)
Objectives: Students are encouraged to conceptualize a building as combination of two hierarchies of systems: the basic supporting structure and flexible infill elements. The infill elements should be detachable, combinable and flexible for change with easy operation of a user, creating space variations for activities such as working, dining, sleeping, gathering, etc within a 24-hour period.
Definition: The infill elements may include four basic categories, which can be combined together and work in a compact space.
1. Partitions including sliding walls, foldable walls, doors, etc.
2. Furniture elements including workstation, cabinets, foldable beds, tables etc
3. Kitchen and bathroom units and facilities
4. External non-structural elements, including, windows, doors, solar blinds, etc
1. Systematic: All of the flexible elements must be dimensioned with one module system.
2. Operative: All flexibilities must have the capacity for daily change, and should be easily handled by a single person.
3. Compactness: Infill elements must be minimal in size and easily packed when not being used (deployable, time geometry element).
4. Sensitive: The flexibility must effectively achieve functional comforts; however, a redundancy of flexibility or infill elements must be avoided.
“Dwelling is after all doing something.”(Habraken 1972:18a). Allowing users to control their living environment is the essence of a theoretical relationship posed by N. J. Habraken. On one side of this relationship, a dweller has the desire and the power to control his/her space; on the other side, the space has the physical potential to be controlled. Adaptable housing design maximizes such potential. Adaptable housing is a design concept for creating buildings that can fulfill a wide range of living requirements and also accommodate changes. It emphasizes the possibility of providing adaptability by using relatively few detachable elements. It accommodates a large range of functional demands within a limited space, and meets the continuous change of housing economics, living standards, building technologies and lifestyles.
This exercise allowed students to develop concepts leading to user-friendly operable partitions for changing uses on a daily basis. They were encouraged to incorporate advanced technology to build operable partitions. The projects demonstrated many combinations of easily convertible spaces by minimizing structural parts. In these projects, ‘flexibility’ as a design term describes an approach to compose pure, transparent, and indeterminate environments that establish the closest possible connections between people and their surroundings, and to allow them to experience these spaces through such changes every day.
Open housing with operable partition elements offers effective means to liberate oneself from several unquestioned assumptions specific to housing design and generally to contemporary architecture. Open housing approaches de-form, de-materialize, minimize, and mobilize the spatial envelope around the human body. As a result, both the individual and collective body/soul can be freed from the enclosed, heavy, static, rigid, repetitive, limited and technologically complicated and otherwise more expensive built form.
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