Flexible Living : Are dedicated rooms really needed?
There is a rigidity in conventional housing models.
Rooms have predefined programmes and mostly singular uses. This makes it difficult for houses to adapt to the growth or new needs of the occupants within.
As we outgrow our homes, the natural next step is to remodel or move out to upsize our living space. This process would be repeated until, instead, our homes started to become underutilized.
This prompt would then reverse the progression, creating an unsustainable and wasteful culture in the housing market.
How can architecture better serve the changing needs of its occupants?
How can our homes cope with change that is inevitable?
What is flexible living?
Flexible homes addresses this issue of rigidity in traditional housing design. It serves a longer-term solution, better adapting to the uncertainty of future demands.
Instead of excessive refurbishments and extensions, or to relocate altogether, flexible housing encourages longevity and sustainability within the built environment.
Flexibility in architecture calls for broader considerations in demographics and timeline within its design process. It looks beyond current needs and current users, keeping adaptability at its core.
Homes will then have the ability to grow with their users’ - through the evolution of life stages, family growth and lifestyle changes.
Flexibility is key to socially, economically and environmentally viable housing.
The housing sector has been increasingly adopting an excessive and superfluous culture of remodeling - which is to completely transform the layout and/or structure of the building.
The complexity and cost of a complete remodel is by no means within the same league as a minor retrofit.
It is not uncommon to find houses newly completed, only to have large parts of it knocked down to be rebuilt; or buildings in perfectly good condition completely torn down - all in search of the ‘Dream Home’.
Even then, it would just be a matter of time before further works is needed to adapt to life's continual change. This keeps us stranded in this loop of remodeling and refurbishment.
Wasteful and unsustainable.
Change is the only constant.
Acknowledging how prevalent change is within our lives, what better way to keep our homes relevant than by crafting it to have the capacity to adapt. Creating allowances for change would reduce the need for major remodeling, even demolition and rebuilding.
Adaptability conserves energy and resource.
Flexible homes would provide the capacity for a myriad of needs to be fulfilled with just minimal retrofitting works. It is a step towards a more sustainable and far-sighted approach to residential architecture.
Flexibility = Compatibility
Designing and building flexibility into our homes make it easy to retrofit and adapt to its occupants.
This means our dwellings will have the capacity to accommodate changes (minor or substantial), as required.
Surely a working professional living alone, a newly married couple and a family of four would have varying needs.
Adaptability would allow spaces to be transformed to accommodate these differences - be it having a home office, a dedicated TV room or extra bedrooms for the kids.
This flexibility creates adaptability, which in turn improves compatibility.
Not only is a flexible home more compatible towards a broader demographic, it also remains relevant to its household for a longer period despite its evolutions and growth.
Our homes are what Austrian-born British-American architect and design theorist, Christopher Alexander calls our ‘human situation’. They are built expressions of who we are.
As our houses become and remain compatible to us, we find comfort and satisfaction - we have our ‘Ideal home’.
is the name of the game
Internal migration and urbanisation have made land scarce and space increasingly commoditized.
This has increased the cost of living and resulted in smaller housing products to create affordability.
With the reducing size of homes, how do we draw full potential within the confines of its four walls?
No longer shall rooms be dedicated to a single use.
The design of our dwellings can be considered in terms of zones (public vs. private) or activities (daytime vs. night-time).
The layout is then crafted to adopt flexible solutions, making the most out of limited space. Flexible and movable furniture can be used in conjunction with multipurpose spaces to complement the fluidity of this new way of living.
Creating spaces that are multifunctional inspires it to its fullest potential. Living room by day, bedroom by night. Yoga room to one, TV room to another. Dining area that doubles as a home office. The possibilities are endless!
The Bottom Line
Adaptability is the future of housing.
Flexible homes are about building for the now while being prepared for the future.
Flexible dwellings are about adapting to change, having better user compatibility and being future-proof.
Flexible living is about embracing multifunctionality, allowing space to flourish in its varying roles.