Michael Cassidy


SPATIAL ROBUSTNESS: DOUBLE-DESIGN AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF SPACE An Exploration of Designing for Multiple Uses by Michael Warren Arkinstall Cassidy Differing attitudes to the expected life and value of architecture characterize the sustainability debate, yet space itself is rarely mentioned. The buildings for which architecture is responsible comprise both space and materials. While it is taken for granted that some existing buildings can be reused productively, this cultural phenomenon has not influenced the design of the new stock. While content to revere old buildings, the qualities that make them valued have not influenced design principles for new projects. Should new buildings be designed and built for their initial use only, often to be demolished as soon as the initial purpose has run its course, or should they be designed to last? The quality of the space being built influences its long-term robustness. The quality of construction being used influences the resource equation. The conservation of resources and the avoidance of waste would be regarded as self-evident goals for any logically principled enterprise. The provision of buildings with material- and use-longevity begins to address important current environmental questions. In developing this logic, this thesis explores the conceptual and technical feasibility of designing buildings to accommodate sequences of uses. The concept of “Double-Design” responds to this challenge by allowing for both initial and later uses. The idea goes beyond a simple recommendation to incorporate adaptability towards support for the radical proposition that buildings should last for a very long time and should be useful for as long as they last. Thus Double-Design would ensure that flexibility and adaptability help both the initial use and subsequent uses. The compatibilities amongst the physical characteristics of buildings for different uses are assessed so that the initial design will allow for future change. Buildings need to be designed to achieve physical longevity with an associated capacity to continue functioning with smooth transitions between uses. A longitudinal case study of an educational building covering fifty years of use confirms the need to accommodate an extensive range of uncertainties in architectural design. This reinforces the requirement that flexibility and adaptability must be incorporated in design if lasting usefulness is to be achieved. Studies of flexibility and adaptability have confirmed their value. But there has been no exploration of the full extent to which multiple uses could be accommodated because of the intention of the original design. Establishing the value of the Double-Design concept would represent an important contribution to knowledge. The development of generative design software covering engineering and architecture may make the evaluation of designs possible based upon multiple sets of performance criteria related to different anticipated or possible uses. Several approaches to implementation are suggested, including the mandatory application of Double-Design using legislation. Resource conservation criteria covering materials and energy would need to be incorporated within health and safety regulations if the public interest is to be redefined. Favourable responses to the concept of Double-Design from the UK and international experts are recorded. The responsibility for commissioning new space reflects a particular distribution of economic and social power, and the physical environment will need to respond as this changes. Such a response will be more readily achieved if all new buildings incorporate Double-Design, thus improving the fit between future space needs and future available space and leading, albeit slowly, to a democratization of space. New logic in using resources emerges from this analysis, suggesting long-lasting materials are to be used to provide building infrastructure: the outer shell. In contrast, short-life sustainable or recyclable materials are to be used for the more frequently changed and responsive interior fit-outs.

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