Ergonomics and flexibility continue to affect domestic design, as people seek out living spaces that complement the 21st century lifestyle. The rise of the adaptable dwelling and the notion of lifestyle flexibility is one of the fastest growing trends in modern housing, with important implications for architecture, renovation, and interior design.
The growth in adaptable housing is a reflection of our evolving relationship with technology, work, and leisure. For example, people are increasingly engaging with media through tablets, laptops, and smartphones, and the TV is no longer front and centre of domestic life. Instead, people are demanding rooms that have more than one use, and spaces that can morph depending on the needs of the day.
Increasing housing prices, smaller blocks, and changing work patterns are also influencing home design, with flexible features like sliding partition doors, wrap-around circulation spaces, and multiple street access giving people the flexibility they require. Moving house is both expensive and time consuming, and adaptable dwellings allow people to do more with less while alleviating the desire for continual upgrades.
There are a number of challenges to meet when designing long-term adaptable dwellings however, especially when you consider the different needs of young families, teenagers, and work-at-home parents. Semi-independent living, disabled access, and flexibility between living and working spaces are just some of the issues being addressed by forward thinking architects and interior designers.
"We are now seeing demand for rooms with more than one use, this is mainly to increase family interaction and connectivity," said Paul Wainwright, marketing and operations manager from Japanese developer Sekisui House, in an interview with Domain. Japanese designers are famous for their combination of beauty and functionality in small packages, a skill which is becoming increasingly important in urban design.
Habitat 21 is another example of new adaptable design, an exciting new Australian project looking for ''new ways of building for life in the 21st century''. The project is a collaboration between Places Victoria, the Department of Planning and Community Development, Monash University, and a group of architects including BKK Architects and Antarctica.
''The manner in which we work and live has changed considerably over the past decade. The option to work remotely blurs the distinction between the office and home. Most clients seek to integrate the two in some form. Considered design enables these disciplines to coexist in a manner that respects boundaries between family life and career." said Julian Kosloff from BKK Architects in an interview with Domain.
Adaptable homes are likely to play an increasingly important role in the future of housing design, as architects, builders, and home owners respond to technological, social, and economic changes. With almost unlimited alternatives to the ways we live, and the continual blurring of boundaries between life and work, it is important that our living spaces are able to match our changing lifestyle.