The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change

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9780071377461: The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change

A master blueprint for flexible housing from a pioneer in the field. Award-winning author Avi Friedman believes that the homes in which we live should not be regarded - or designed - as single purpose, unchangeable physical environments incapable of adapting to the occupant's evolving needs. A home, he contends, should be constructed as a life cycle house where changes such as children being born or leaving the nest, elderly relatives moving in, or the need for home office space are all easily accommodated. This powerful, eloquent resource provides a clear, systematic guide to the conception and construction of adaptable homes that can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively altered to reflect the new needs of owners. Packed with floor plans, drawings, photos, and charts to fully illustrate the author's suggestions, "The Adaptable House" is more than a persuasive argument for designing and building flexible structures - it is an innovative blueprint for putting principles into practice. 'A conflict exists between the dynamic nature of occupants' lives and the homes in which they choose to reside. The argument this book puts forward is that a fit between the evolving space needs of occupants and their homes needs to be simpler than it is at present' - From the Preface. America's rapidly changing demographics - people living longer, an increasing number working from home, fewer having children - demand a greater flexibility, creativity, and awareness in home design and construction. Clearly, the era of unchangeable homes, capable of accommodating just one life-style is drawing to a close, and there exists a clear need for new, imaginative strategies, tasks, and products."The Adaptable House" provides specific design approaches and techniques that facilitate flexible design - both on the inside and out. These principles make it simple to alter a dwelling's layout, demolish partitions or build new ones, upgrade heating systems, and change the locations of staircases. "The Adaptable House" is divided into three sections: the first sets the stage for adaptability, the second outlines relevant design principles, and the last shows their actual application in a variety of projects with detailed coverage of: interior layouts and room configurations; exterior elements such as roofs and facades; new building materials and methods; easy add-ons and remodels; and single-family and multiple dwelling houses. This groundbreaking reference outlines both a vision and process that together will alter our concept of the structure we call home.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Dr. Avi Friedman, author of The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change, says North America's rapidly changing demograhics -- people living longer, more people working from home, fewer having children, adult children returning home -- demand greater flexibility, creativity, and awareness in home design and construction. Dr. Friedman is Director of the Affordable Homes Program at McGill University's School of Architecture.

"It seems," says Dr. Friedman, "that the era of unchangeable homes that accommodate just one lifestyle is drawing to a close, and there exists a clear need for new strategies and products." His book argues that achieving a close fit between the evolving space needs of occupants and their homes ought to be simpler than it is at present. Residences can be designed and constructed to become life-cycle houses where changes can be made as needed.

The Adaptable House, which is packed with floor plans, photos and charts, is available at Canadian bookstores. ( Transition 2003-04-09)

How do we make even the smallest of homes--strike that, especially the smallest homes--more space-efficient? There are few as qualified as architect Avi Friedman to respond to that dilemma. Avi's groundbreaking work on flexible housing design includes the concept of the life cycle home -- one that evolves as our lives evolve. His ideology is both creative and humanistic, founded on a desire to build better homes and communities. His is an artistic approach that makes the renovations that are a part of family life seamless. This brand of revolutionary thinking is spelled out in Avi's book The Adaptable House (Mcgraw-Hill, 2002). He has earned a United Nations World Habitat Award and a place on Wallpaper magazine's list of 10 people who'll change the way we live. As a professor at the McGill University school of architecture in Montreal, Avi is educating a new generation of designers about the virtues of thinking outside the box. We asked him for a lesson on living big in small spaces.

S@H: You've masterminded the life cycle home -- a house that can be modified for changing living needs. What kinds of lifestyle changes radically affect housing?

AF: Conflict exists between the dynamic nature of people's lives and the homes in which they reside. We buy a house considering our immediate needs. We fail to recognize our future needs. My argument is that it should be much simpler for a house to evolve to meet the needs of its occupants. We have children and need more bedrooms. People are living longer, so we need homes that can be adapted to the elderly. More and more people are choosing to work from home and need home offices. Environmental concerns mean we need to update houses to become more eco-friendly. These sorts of influences are constant, and it would be better for most people if their homes could be easily adapted, saving them from the stress of moving.

S@H: I think most people consider renovating stressful. Is there a stress-free way to create what you call "the adaptable house"?

AF: There's a scale of stress, and currently, renovating a house is extremely high on that scale. But if you design the house so that adding or subdividing spaces later is a much nicer experience, people won't dread renovating and they won'd need to move -- consider the effect that would have on communities. The technology exists to build life cycle homes. We know how to make clip-on/clip-off walls, for example. They're demountable wall systems that make adapting and changing a room a snap. And in the past few years, we've introduced technology that allows builders to install all the plumbing and wiring for a house right in the mouldings and baseboards, rather than inside the walls. When the time comes to reshape the house, the mouldings pop off and the wires and pipes are easily and inexpensively moved.

S@H: Is that adaptability achievable in small homes?

AF: Even the tiniest houses can be efficient -- they must be. In a small space, every square inch must be utilized effectively. One error wastes so much functionality. The Grow Home [codesigned by Avi and Witold Rybczynski in 1990] is 14 by 36 feet. It's one of the smallest houses in Canada today. It's become so popular [10,000 Grow Homes were built for buyers last year alone] because its flexible. We left the top floor unpartitioned, which is a psychological trick, really: when a space is unpartitioned it feels bigger, has multiple uses and provides the opportunity to subdivide later.

S@H: Are there other design tricks that make a small space function more efficiently?

AF: When you design a space, you must consider the potential for double functions. For example, if you hang one window in a room, you can't ever subdivide the room, but if you hang two, you can partition the room later. Windows may also be easily replaced with doors to accommodate changing needs. The placement of interior doors is also of critical importance. If you walk into a room from a corner, the room feels bigger. Similarly, if you walk into a room and find a window facing you, the room feels more expansive. Hallways and corridors can also be designed so that they're adaptable. They can take up to 30 percent of a home's floor space. If we built them 18 inches wide storage could be built along one wall and still leave enough room for passage. Also, in small houses, corridors can later accommodate stairs leading to a new upper level. You see, if you're thoughtful from the beginning, even the smallest houses can be efficient and can evolve as the homeowner's needs change. ( Style at Home 2003-04-01)

Architect Avi Friedman shows how new homes can be altered to meet your changing needs The changes on a new home begin the very day you move in. You start to tinker with things to suit your own needs. On our street, I think it was the light fixtures that went first. The ones in the bedroom were genuinely horrid, and the chandelier in the dining room was rather modest for such a grand space. By now, almost all the proud new owners on our street have replaced the original lamps with more attractive fixtures. Some neighbors have gone much further. The couple five doors down hired a custom builder to put in a full set of new kitchen cupboards with a granite countertop; the job was done before they moved in. It's a non-stop process. Two blocks over where the homes are two years older, many owners have built fancy gazebos on their third-floor back decks. And three blocks over, one home now has a very fancy glass-covered sun room on the back. It's something that was definitely not included in the builder's specifications. Even so, there's a limit to how much you can do to change most new homes. It's especially difficult to shift interior walls, for instance -- but that's likely to change if homebuilders and buyers pay more attention to Avi Friedman. Friedman is an architect; he teaches at McGill in Montreal. He fervently urges builders to make homes as easy to change as possible, so that homes can be adapted to meet the changing needs of the owners. For instance, he recommends putting two smaller windows in a big room, instead of one big one. This way, the room can easily be divided into two and both new rooms will have a window of their own. But why would you ever want to divide a room? Well, each family would have a different answers -- a growing child needs a bedroom, an aging parent comes to stay, a mom wants a home office. Later, the partitioned wall can be removed. Friedman's excellent book, The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change, describes several projects where homes have been designed to make it easier to do major renovations. The one in the photo is in a new community that Friedman worked on just outside Quebec City; put some brick on the front and it would fit right in on any street in Toronto. Sooner or later, I'm sure more builders will be promoting "adaptable" houses -- but I just don't know if they'll do anything about the light fixtures. ( Homes Magazine 2003-03-01)

The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change by Avi Friedman, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2002, Hardcover, 271 pages, $45.00 A renowned architect of flexible housing, Avi Friedman has fleshed out his ideas on adaptability in his recently released book, The Adaptable House. Friedman begins with the assertion that "A conflict exists between the dynamic nature of people's lives and the homes in which they choose to reside." Occupants, Friedman proposes, need not play the role of contortionists fitting into rigid homes. Rather, "achieving a close fit between the evolving space needs of occupants and their homes ought to be simpler..." The first part of The Adaptable House explains how shifting demographics and technologies demand flexible living spaces. It also traces a brief history of trends in North American and European housing characteristics -- including current practices and projections of future trends in home design. Next, Friedman suggests methods of achieving greater adaptability, both before and after a home has been completed. Large-scale considerations are explored, including a home's dimensions, facade design, and assembly, as well as interior design issues such as the division of spaces, functions of rooms, and surface finishes. Finally, Friedman illustrates his suggestions with example homes designed to accommodate changes in technologies, site conditions, and occupant life-style or mobility. Though his book is detail-oriented and laden with illustrations and floor plans, Friedman never loses sight of his guiding principle that adaptability "is first and foremost a state of mind." ( Environmental Building News 2003-02-01)

From Library Collection Development
Home Construction

Professional architect Friedman urges the reader to reimagine the traditional static home as dynamic space that changes as the needs of the occupants change. A single house, according to the author, should be able to accommodate an individual and/or family throughout their lives. Friedman examines how space functions within a house and the ways a house can be expanded and contracted based on the needs of its owners.

( Library Journal 2003-02-01)

Excerpts from article written by Avi Friedman

Adapting Mind-Sets to Nature

The La Foret de Marie-Victorin project began when Jean-Marie Lavoie and Paul Brassard, retired architects from the Quebec City area purchased a 41-hectare (102-acre) plot of densely-forested land in a town called Saint-Nicolas. Proximity to the Saint Lawrence River with a view of the city in the far distance made the site a prime location for a residential development.

When Lavoie and Brassard contemplated their approach to the site design and the type of homes they wished to build, they realized that they must apply unconventional thinking to their decisions. They recognized that common approaches to contemporary development--those that involve clearing the forest and building wide boulevards--would destroy the natural beauty of the site. The homes, they also decided, should not be sprawling suburban dwellings whose construction would mean extensive alteration of the landscape. They instead agreed that adaptability to the topography needed to play a pivotal role in both urban planning and unit design. In their search for a housing prototype that would satisfy these requirements, they became familiar with my work and invited me to collaborate with them in the design of both the community and the homes. A set goal was to promote sustainable living and create a community that contributed to such a mind-set.

Sustainable Living

The notion of sustainable development was introduced in the seventies as a result of recognition of the environmental harm that current development practices had caused. Authors like Schumacher in his 1973 book Small is Beautiful warned of actions that, if pursued further, could endanger the delicate balance between people and nature. Years later, this reflection led to the establishment of several international organizations that attempted to outline specific actions to remedy the situation. In their 1987 report, Our Common Future, the Brundland Commission defined sustainable development as "development that meets the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." A conceptual approach whereby every present action has to be taken while considering its future effect on the environment was put in place.

When broken into sub-components, three main aspects were seen as influencing the functioning of a sustainable community. The first is society itself: the people who reside in the development, on their demographic make-up, and their lifestyles. The economic vitality of the development is also an essential aspect, since monetary failure will cause the enterprise to cease to exist. The final issue is the environment itself--with its many facets which include the built components and nature. Only when a balance is struck between these three elements, a balance that considers the future, is sustainable development possible.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, and especially after World War II, bad development practices have begun to take their toll. There were many ramifications to such practices in which the environment was one of the main casualties. Forested landscape was cleared to make room for wide roads. Vast green spaces were covered with sod that needed large quantities of fresh water during dry summer months. The homes themselves swelled in size. North America consumed domestic space much like any other product. The design of homes became more intricate and complex, leading to the use of many scarce natural resources, of which lumber was the main one.

It was recognized that old practices needed to be abandoned and that new ones had to be put in place. Sustainable residential development set out to reduce reliance on cars by encouraging pedestrian movements and a mix of commercial and residential uses. Alternative building products and practices that consume fewer natural resources are becoming widespread. Attention is being paid to constructing better-insulated homes that consume less energy, and designers position the houses better to maximize passive solar gain. The proliferation of telecommunications and the popularity of working at home have also reduced travel time and enabled the mixing of commercial and domestic activities within the same residence.

These processes all demonstrate that what is needed and has perhaps begun is an adaptable mind-set, one that recognizes that present actions bear future consequences. We employed such a mind-set in the design of La Foret de Marie-Victorin.

Seeing the Forest and the Trees

The first stage in the development of the master plan began by taking stock of the site's existing conditions. There were small- and large-scale aspects that were considered in the design. Two areas with dense concentration of trees were documented: the first was on the northern edge of the site and the second in a ravine in the middle. Both areas run in an east-west direction. On a small scale, throughout the site there were many impressive rocky areas with large visible boulders that created a magnificent formation worth preserving. Many trees on the site were old growth.

After the recording of site characteristics was completed, objectives were set for the design of the roads. In order to keep nature intact, it was decided that circulation should be as ...

From the Back Cover:

A MASTER BLUEPRINT FOR FLEXIBLE HOUSING FROM A PIONEER IN THE FIELD

Award-winning author Avi Friedman believes that the homes in which we live should not be regarded – or designed – as single purpose, unchangeable physical environments incapable of adapting to the occupant’s evolving needs. A home, he contends, should be constructed as a life cycle house where changes such as children being born or leaving the nest, elderly relatives moving in, or the need for home office space are all easily accommodated.

This powerful, eloquent resource provides a clear, systematic guide to the conception and construction of adaptable homes that can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively altered to reflect the new needs of owners. Packed with floor plans, drawings, photos, and charts to fully illustrate the author’s suggestions, The Adaptable House is more than a persuasive argument for designing and building flexible structures – it is an innovative blueprint for putting principles into practice.

“A conflict exists between the dynamic nature of occupants’ lives and the homes in which they choose to reside. . . . The argument this book puts forward is that a fit between the evolving space needs of occupants and their homes needs to be simpler than it is at present.”--From the Preface

America’s rapidly changing demographics – people living longer, an increasing number working from home, fewer having children – demand a greater flexibility, creativity, and awareness in home design and construction. Clearly, the era of unchangeable homes, capable of accommodating just one life-style is drawing to a close, and there exists a clear need for new, imaginative strategies, tasks, and products.

The Adaptable House provides specific design approaches and techniques that facilitate flexible design – both on the inside and out. These principles make it simple to alter a dwelling’s layout, demolish partitions or build new ones, upgrade heating systems, and change the locations of staircases.

The Adaptable House is divided into three sections: the first sets the stage for adaptability, the second outlines relevant design principles, and the last shows their actual application in a variety of projects with detailed coverage of:
* Interior layouts and room configurations
* Exterior elements such as roofs and facades
* New building materials and methods
* Easy add-ons and remodels
* Single-family and multiple dwelling houses

This groundbreaking reference outlines both a vision and process that together will alter our concept of the structure we call home.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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