Blog: 5 August 2016Adaptable Homes

Tom Macklen

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Tom Macklen

Architectural Director

Bristol office

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For years people have been moving into houses that suit their current needs and requirements. However, as life changes and evolves, what we require and need from a home changes. Have people become conditioned to believe the easiest and most cost effective option is to move into a home that will house our new requirements?

But if we were to build adaptable communities by design, we’d create homes that evolve with us, saving on the stress and cost that moving entails. Our recent competition entry for the ‘Taylor Wimpey Project 2020’ highlights how this life cycle could look and work.

Our design approach lends itself to adaptability, with the ground floor featuring a one/two bed apartment annex which could be an independent unit or be part of the main household. When required for larger families it can be converted into a 3-bedroom unit by incorporating the ground floor annex.

The flexible and sustainable house types can be arranged as detached, semi-detached or terraced units on either level or sloping sites.

The front elevation presents a contemporary response to modern living. It reflects the light loving open plan internal arrangement, often sought after by purchasers. The rear elevation presents a varied and more adaptable elevation, which can be altered and extended to reflect the lifestyle change that can occur during our lifetime. The front elevation acts to protect the softer internal heart of the dwelling, yet keeps it transparent in order to ensure some ‘street’ relationship with the wider community. The palette of materials reflects the desire for light and contemporary design and the portal frame protective sheath is contrasted with ‘softer’ more transparent glazing and brickwork.

Further features we have included:

  • A palette of materials that reflects the desire for a light and contemporary design
  • A portal frame that has a protective sheath which is contrasted with ‘softer’ transparent glazing and brickwork
  • Replicability and scalability in the use of standardised construction elements and modular design to reduce costs
  • Very efficient building fabric reducing heating demands and costs for residents
  • Natural light, thermal mass and shelter planting principles have all been applied and will provide numerous benefits including cost savings associated with thermal comfort and indoor lighting.

As we see an increase in single occupancy homes and a growing older population, building homes by design to offer adaptability and flexibility could address these societal challenges, whilst also create communities that mature together and continually flourish. As a Practice we work with everyone from housing developers to private developers and understand the importance of creative but viable development which meet the demands and needs of homeowners. These evolving and changing needs are something we are really interested in addressing and promoting as both planners and designers. It seems like a sensible approach to home building but can the UK embrace this change?


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