I was sent this interesting article a couple of days ago on flexible home design. You can read the entire article on Treehugger
It’s a fact of life that people’s needs change over time, and that’s as true in housing as any other industry. Aiming to create condominiums that are flexible enough to accommodate some of that change, Canadian architectural firm Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co. has created a new, modular design for living spaces that allows them to adapt when needed.
Created with developer Parallax Investment Corp., FlexNatür is a system for condos by which residents can buy living space in increments and then combine or divide up those increments to suit their current needs. So, rather than committing to a condo with fixed square footage and a preset floor plan, residents instead can buy a certain number of units of space, with room to reconfigure as their needs shift. Thanks to their raised floors, for example, units can be reconfigured without penetrating into the concrete substructure. Self-contained utilities, meanwhile, make it relatively simple to redirect plumbing. And instead of concrete walls, loads are carried on solid concrete columns, enabling walls to be shifted fairly painlessly.
The FlexNatür concept is currently implemented in Toronto’s Downtown condominiums, among other projects. All those in architecture and design: be inspired!
FlexNatür: Designing Condos For
Flexibility And Change
by Lloyd Alter
Studies have shown that multifamily housing in transit oriented neighbourhoods is the most energy efficient, and that more young people want apartments, not houses. But with most apartments and condos are WYSIWYG; they are inflexible and hard-wired to resist changes.
But people’s needs do change. That’s what is so interesting about the creatively named Downtown condo in Toronto; it is designed to support change. Architect Dermot Sweeny calls it FlexNatür.
The building, designed by Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects (Danger,excessive flash) AKA &Co, is different. The architect explains the problem:
Downtown living has become almost unaffordable in major North American cities, including Toronto. Without a viable apartment-style solution, people have been buying single family homes where they can afford it, choosing massive and ever-increasing commutes, smaller dwellings, or both.The single family home is thought of as something that is flexible, but those of us who have renovated/added to them, know they are not flexible relative to cost and process. We buy small ones. Then, if possible, keep buying bigger ones. Most families rarely experience a sense of permanence or true belonging: “We bought a starter home… we will be looking for something bigger, something closer, something cooler and more stylish…” or “we will be renovating, adding-on, finishing the basement… and then moving…”.