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Flexible Architecture as a Change Catalyst

This month we look at heritage and what it truly means. Heritage defines something that is handed down to future generation, form the past. Giving this some thought it made sense to look at design in present society, posing questions like, what will we hand down to the next generation? How has the design world evolved and developed? Can other people learn from our triumphs and failures? For me one of the most interesting design progression would be that of flexible architecture. Contradictory, this has actually been around for many centuries so maybe this was passed down to us and we reinvented and revived it. A forerunner in the field of Flexible Architecture is Robert Kroenenberg his book ‘Flexible Architecture’ is well worth a read.

Flexible design looks into human beings inherent quality of being flexible creatures. Taking into consideration ones need to manipulate objects and being able to function within a broad spectrum of environments. Flexible buildings and homes therefore respond to the changing circumstances. The architecture adapts, transforms, moves and interacts with the end user. This makes the design both cross-disciplinary and multi-functional, so allowing it to be appropriate for the diversity that the new ideology represents.

It can be deduced that it is this constant need for change and progression within a society, which directly affects the way in which buildings are being designed and constructed. This is in turn affected by our current knowledge that there is a definite limit on resources and they must be used sparingly. It is through flexible architecture that one is able to achieve this, as buildings being produced are adaptable to change and therefore last longer. The buildings are able to fit their purpose better and are able to make full use of technological advancements. As a result the buildings are economically and ecologically more viable.

Architecture that is able to adapt takes into consideration that change is inevitable and that a framework is required to ensure that the building allows for change to occur. These buildings are designed in such a way as to respond to various functions, change in use and the end users specific requirements. This ensures that future change is accommodated for within the fixed building fabric.

The transformation of a space already and always will exist, from the moving of furniture and closing of blinds; such movement allows for the ambience and space to be transformed. But truly transformable architecture stretches far beyond such minimal changes. It requires a dramatic alteration to take place, so allowing the architectural environment to transform. Therefore a transformable building alters the physical structure by changing the way the building is perceived or used.


We as human beings rely on our abilities to act and interact and to respond appropriately to changing situations. This ability allows one to be able to move in a direction towards improvement. It is due to technological advancements that one is now able to progress in automation within building structures. The building is able to react and interact accordingly to its inhabitants. This incorporation within buildings is known as intelligent building systems, which is becoming more common within our current society.

Interactive buildings aim at co-operating with its inhabitants to provide the best possible conditions. Intelligent building systems are incorporated into the following areas: environmental comfort, safety, security, privacy, sanitation, communications, entertainment, ambience, energy use and efficiency. Such systems require a sensor, which identifies that something is happening and an actuator, which carries out the appropriate action in response. Therefore the building is able to read the inhabitants movements and act in accordance to them.

Interactive architecture allows for a change in appearance, climate and form through the use of sensors that detect a need for change and respond automatically. This type of architecture also allows for the inhabitants to be more engaged with their surroundings. People are therefore more proactive in affecting the space that they inhabit. The main aim of such architecture is to produce more efficient and sustainable buildings for generations to come.


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