Friday, April 30, 2010

Flexible; Architecture That Responds to Change Robert Kronenburg

Robert Kronenburg suggests flexible architecture is not a new concept, but rather it is a form of building that has evolved alongside humankind's developments. Flexible buildings 'respond to changing situations in their use, operation or location.' This book explores the culture context of flexible architecture and gives an overview of its history as a building genre, before offering key contemporary examples of flexible architecture that may help in the creation of a new language of flexible architecture.

Most usefully, it provides four key characteristics of flexible architecture that organise the second part of this book. These are adaption, transformation, movability and interaction. Buildings that 'adapt' might be designed to adjust or change to different functions, or known as 'Open Building' - a term that originated in the 1960s by John Habraken to support a new concept of design as a continuous process and supporting the probability of future change. Buildings that 'transform' change shape space or form through physical alterations. Buildings that 'move' include buildings that relocate; shift, flies, floats. Buildings that 'interact' respond to the user; they might use sensors to induce change.

From this, it is important to recognise that most flexible architecture can be categorised by more than one characteristic. In particular, we have looked at OMA's Seattle Public Library for its concept on 'fluctuating space'. Here, OMA created a series of spatial compartments , each dedicated to a particular role of the library. Each offer flexibility within its own compartment, but the problems arising from different building functions are removed, through their separation. It is a successful division of space, as each floor has a different character, based on its function. What becomes important too, is the space between the floors where the 'interaction' occurs between the different floor activities.

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