Adaptable, kinetic, responsive, and transformable architecture : an alternative approach to sustainable design

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Lee, Joshua David

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There has been a long, but disparate discourse among those responsible for our built environment about the inevitability of change on the artifacts we inhabit and those social contracts that influence their making. At a basic level doors and operable windows are an indication of the various flows that move through buildings. Innumerable “passive” and “active” strategies have been devised to allow changes to building floor plans and sections, to control sunlight and wind, to change function, etc. Hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of prototypes have been proposed and developed that change shape or composition in response to various social and environmental pressures. Though not always done with the goals of sustainability in mind, these prototypes often sought to provide increased agency for users, improved energy-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and other commonly understood goals of sustainability. A number of books, hundreds of articles, and dozens of patents beautifully illustrate many proposed and built examples from which to learn but the descriptive terms employed are greatly varied (i.e., adaptable, animated, collapsible, deployable, enabling, evolutionary, flexible, intelligent, kinetic, manipulable, mutable, open-system, portable, protean, reconfigurable, responsive, revolving, smart, and transformable, etc.) and are therefore difficult to find. By reviewing and synthesizing the existing literature, this study provides a starting point for future research that offers both insight into how these terms have been used over time and a critique of such concerns and the exclusion of the topic within sustainability rating criteria.




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