A new approach to flexibility-in-use: adaptability of structural elements

R. Gijsbers, J.J.N. Lichtenberg, P.A. Erkelens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


The building stock in the Netherlands is seriously out of balance, because the quality of the supplied stock does not satisfy the ever growing demand of users. Flexible use and transformation capacity are a possible solution to create buildings that can adapt to changing user requirements. A building can be divided into a hierarchy of layers: structure, envelope, services and infill. To provide a maximum of possibilities during the lifespan of a building, flexibility needs to be implemented in all layers, by applying building products which are developed for adaptability. However, this is not the case in the existing strategies for flexible design, where, generally, only the infill is considered to be adaptable. This research project questions flexibility-in-use provided by overcapacity in the structure, because it results in excessive use of resources while the extra capacity may remain unused during the lifespan of the building. Contrary to the building sector, in the industrial product development, it is common practice to apply changes to products and product platforms based on the user requirements. Therefore, in order to improve flexible use of building, we firstly need to research to what extent the user actually desires flexibility. This research project will show the relation between functional requirements and technical qualities and how this relation has been structured. The process of structuring the functional requirements and technical qualities is significant for adaptability performances of building elements. The same also holds for the aforementioned building layers. To find out whether this approach is satisfactory, a method has been developed to analyze the effect that an adaptable building element has on changing user requirements with regard to its spatial and functional demands. In addition, to research the practicability of this approach, an adaptable column will be developed through a predefined product development trajectory. The combination of both tracks will result in a design methodology for adaptable building elements and a solution for long term flexibility of the building structure. If effective, it may well bring new insights to integrated design strategies for flexibility and transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SASBE 09, 3rd CIB international conference on smart and sustainable built environments, june 15-19 2009 Delft, the Netherlands
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event3rd CIB International Conference on Smart and Sustainable Built Environments (SASBE 2009), June 15-19, 2009, Delft, The Netherlands - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 15 Jun 200919 Jun 2009


Conference3rd CIB International Conference on Smart and Sustainable Built Environments (SASBE 2009), June 15-19, 2009, Delft, The Netherlands
Abbreviated titleSASBE 2009


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