The Adaptable House Ground floor

The Adaptable House, developed by the British Ministry of

Housing and Local Government (MHLG) in 1962, emphasises

the changeability of the plan as a means for providing

flexibility. The design for the development of this

house was based on findings and recommendations published

in the seminal Parker Morris Report in 1961. Parker

Morris stressed the importance of a building’s adaptability

to future needs. Whilst the consideration of the stages

in a family’s life cycle and their expression in space had

already played an important role in the 1930s (i.e. Vroesenlaan

by Van den Broek), it became a central focus again in

the 1960s and 1970s.

The architects at MHLG illustrated this concept with

a diagram that differentiated between seven stages in a

family’s cycle over a period of fifty years starting with marriage,

the arrival of two children within five years, another

child within the next 5 years, the growing up of all children,

their leaving the house gradually, up until the final

stage from year 35 when the couple is on their own again.

Architecturally, this programme is accommodated in

a two storey L-shaped house with kitchen, dining room /

playspace, WC and one additional room on the ground

floor. The additional room is accessible both from the

entrance hall as well as via a door to the living room and

can be used as a hobbies room, bed-sitting or guest room.

The large living rooms on ground floor can be used for different

functions and activities, and subdivided as necessary.

Depending on the number of occupants in the house

a large space to one side of the staircase on the first floor

can be divided into two rooms.

Plan

Flexible Space Ground floor

William Wurster”s proposal for The new house 194X’ competition

was initiated by a short manifesto in which he lists

the inherent and fixed problems of residential dwellings:

unalterable areas, arrangements with permanent wall

partitions, and a size that is usually limited to minimum

initial needs and impossible to expand except at considerable

expense. In place of these he proposes a fixed outer

shell — an undivided space of 36 feet by 54 feet la total

area of almost 180m2) which is raised one storey above

ground level, with a long staircase arriving in the centre of

the elongated plan. The principle here is not one of gradual

expansion and addition, but of subdivision. Wurster starts

with an abundance of inexpensive space that can then be

adjusted over time. With this one-floor house Wurster

uses the concept of excess space; space that is as simple

and economical as loft construction and allows everything

from maximum openness to complete division.

Initially, the completely open space would be divided

only by a completely prefabricated kitchen bay, bathroom

and closets. Later on, with children, it could be further

subdivided into a series of smaller separated areas

or rooms through the addition of closet units. These,

Wurster indicates, are factory-fabricated units for space

division and storage. Two standard sizes in two heights

cater for all needs: as clothes closets, as shelves for

books and magazines, as a sideboard, as a storage cupboard

for brooms and ironing equipment and as laundry

unit. As with Corbusier’s Maisons Loucheur, Wurster

offers additional space beneath the house for expansion: a

space that can be the garage, a garden store, a social hall

and /ora utility room.

Plan

EG

Traditional Japanese House Ground floor

This house is representative of the traditional Japanese

house that is organised as a series of interconnected

spaces that can be joined or divided by means of sliding

partition walls. The individual rooms are only separated

by lightweight walls and can never really be fully (acoustically)

isolated. The flexibility that derives from this principle,

is one of indeterminacy. The openness of the plan

as well as the frame construction suggest that functional

and social changes can be dealt with easily — both on a

daily as well as on a periodic or even longer term basis.

Connections between rooms can be opened or closed

through sliding screens, which make it possible to change

the size and the function of a space in a matter of seconds:

two individual rooms can be joined by simply opening

up two large screens so that two small spaces become

one large room that can be used for a specific festivity or

family gathering. The actual flexibility and adaptability of

the house is thereby completely dependent upon the active

participation of the users (as well as a specific type of furniture):

by pulling out futons from a storage cupboard, a

room that was used as a dining or sitting room can be

transformed into a bedroom; the minimal approach to furnishings,

and the relative lack of other clutter, demands a

discipline to achieve flexibility that may be beyond normal

living patterns, but nonetheless the principle remains and

has fascinated generations of architects. Flexibility is also

enabled through a modular approach to design. The size

of the rooms is based on the standard measure of tatami

mats, with rooms made up of a set of these mats. i.e. 6

or 8; these and other building components are thus interchangeable.

Plan

Sutton Dwellings ground floor single persons

The Sutton Dwellings by Frederick MacManus & Partners

were commissioned by the Sutton Dwellings Housing

Trust (now William Sutton Housing Association) and built

according to Parker Morris standards. The new dwellings

extend an existing 1915 estate, which also belongs to the

Trust.

The client brief required accommodation for singles

(bed sitting room apartments], disabled people (tworoomed

apartments) and families (five-person apartments).

The entire development has forty-eight dwellings

on five storeys, with four staircases serving two units

each on floors one to four; the apartments on the ground

floor are accessed straight from the pedestrian access on

the rear of the block. The ground floor accommodates the

single person apartments; the first, second and third floor

accommodates family apartments; and the top floor contains

the two-person apartments.

The entire programme, from residential and down to

the garages, is accommodated within the same structural

grid within a reinforced concrete frame construction. The

loadbearing elements are contained within the external

skin, with one additional row of columns on the inside of the

building. Apart from these few structural elements, only

the staircase core is fixed in plan. This allows considerable

flexibility in the internal planning, as is shown in the original

drawings that show a variety of layouts within the same

shell. Each of the family apartments hasa condensed central

core that contains a bathroom, separate WC, a number

of storage cabinets and the kitchen. The remaining

space can be divided according to the needs of a particular

occupant.

plan 10408

Lageplan

Kajplats 02

Nuovo Portello Site Plan

Housing Block Erasmuslaan Groundfloor

The houses on Erasmuslaan, Utrecht, simplify some of

the principles that Rietveld first developed in the Schroder

Huis. The plans are based on a one-metre module and a

structural system that allows the free subdivision of the

open space. On the ground floor, space can be adjusted

and subdivided by means of folding concertina walls,

which are guided on floor and ceiling tracks. The upper

storeys are divided more conventionally by partition walls,

whose positions follow the underlying grid, with all rooms

separately accessible off the vertical circulation core.

In each of the four houses, staircase, kitchen and bathroom

are grouped together and are placed to one side of

the space of each living unit. On the ground floor, the walls

enclosing this core are the only fixed elements in plan. The

concertina walls divide or open up the remaining space. If

these wall panels are pushed to one side against the fixed

wall, the openness of the large space (11 metres in length

and between 4 and 7 metres in width] emerges to its full

extent. If pulled out, the panels divide the space into up to

three smaller spaces of 15m2, 20m2 and 24m2 (though it

should be noted that one of these ‘rooms’ does not have

its own access from the central core, thus potentially limiting

its usage).

Unlike Mies van der Rohe’s Weifienhofsiedlung project,

the facade is not interrupted with structural elements,

nor are there any loadbearing columns in the centre of the

space. At Erasmuslaan, the crosswalls are a double skin

of loadbearing brick which support I-beams that span the

width of the each house. In theory, therefore, each of the

internal walls could be placed somewhere else or could

be removed altogether.

This structural principle enables a continuous band of

steel framed windows on the facade. Yet, in order to provide

possible connection points for the establishment of

internal partition walls, slightly wider window profiles are

placed at two-metre intervals.

Lageplan

Langhansstraße 27-29

Das Grundstück wird mit einem 5-geschossigen Hofhausgebäude, das von der Roelckestraße zugänglich ist, bebaut. Der Blockrand wird durch den vorgeschlagenen Baukörper vollständig geschlossen. Das Gebäude ist über den West-Ost ausgerichteten, begrünten Hofraum erschlossen, der zudem als Gemeinschafts- und Spielfläche dient. Im Gebäude werden verschiedene Wohnformen (Geschosswohnungen, Maisonetten, Town-Houses) angeboten. Diese sind jeweils mit einem großzügigen, verglasten Balkon, der als „Garten“ beschrieben wird, ausgestattet. Die Dachfläche wird ebenfalls als Gartenfläche konzipiert. Die vorgeschlagene Schottenbauweise erlaubt die Kombination von Räumen ähnlich einem Baukastenprinzip zu unterschiedlichen Wohnungs- bzw. Nutzungstypen. Im Erdgeschoss sind gewerbliche und gemeinschaftliche Nutzungen (Läden, Büros, Ateliers, Kindertagesstätte) vorgesehen.

Langhansstraße 27-29

Das Grundstück wird mit einem 5-geschossigen Hofhausgebäude, das von der Roelckestraße zugänglich ist, bebaut. Der Blockrand wird durch den vorgeschlagenen Baukörper vollständig geschlossen. Das Gebäude ist über den West-Ost ausgerichteten, begrünten Hofraum erschlossen, der zudem als Gemeinschafts- und Spielfläche dient. Im Gebäude werden verschiedene Wohnformen (Geschosswohnungen, Maisonetten, Town-Houses) angeboten. Diese sind jeweils mit einem großzügigen, verglasten Balkon, der als „Garten“ beschrieben wird, ausgestattet. Die Dachfläche wird ebenfalls als Gartenfläche konzipiert. Die vorgeschlagene Schottenbauweise erlaubt die Kombination von Räumen ähnlich einem Baukastenprinzip zu unterschiedlichen Wohnungs- bzw. Nutzungstypen. Im Erdgeschoss sind gewerbliche und gemeinschaftliche Nutzungen (Läden, Büros, Ateliers, Kindertagesstätte) vorgesehen.

Pallasseum