Thank you Richard for your take on flexible housing. I believe that flexibility needs to be integrated into all new housing design. Housing should most definitely be adaptable, malleable, and customisable. For some reason this strikes us as a new concept, but as Richard points out, it’s not at all. Maybe it’s more of a case of people finally coming round to the idea.
In a previous post I wrote about the Japanese Machiya and how it is the embodiment of flexible housing design. It is evident in the fact that this dwelling type is still functioning, even in modern times. The dwelling house/work house was designed to be passed down through generations, meaning it had to respond to the needs of different generations and living patterns. The key quality of the Machiya regarding Richard’s post is the flexibility of the building itself.
Whilst I definitely think that there is a place for prefabricated housing in todays housing market, I think we as designers need to be careful and make sure that we’re not simply creating products. We visited Ilka homes in February, a UK company who build prefabricated homes, and while I was impressed by the scale at which houses could be built as well as the efficiency and manner in which they were built, but I couldn’t help but think that they lacked character and individuality.