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Urban Design Compendium

Building for Change

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Walter Segal – designed self-build social housing in Lewisham, London.

Building should be designed for changes in space to enable a mix of uses and over time to allow for personalisation and changing needs.

Multi use buildings

  • Most uses are now compatible given the rise of the service industry and clean technologies. This enables uses to be ‘re mixed’
  • Flexible building types encourage mix uses at close quarters This can be achieved by inserting managed workshops or compatible employment uses into block interiors, introducing mews, grading uses, creating hybrid live-work uses or encouraging temporary uses etc
  • Uses can be mixed vertically to avoid conflict

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Tate Modern has been successfully transformed from a redundant power station into one of London's top visitor attractions.

 Adaptability and Re-Use:

  • Flexible buildings offer the occupier the opportunity to modify and personalise their home and workplace
  • Building adaptability generally arises from the configuration of buildings i.e. height, width, depth, access, ways that thresholds are dealt with etc.
  • Flexibility can also be promoted by methods such as creating ‘kit parts’ that can be chosen by the occupier and slot into the structural form, building town houses with undesignated internal spaces or promoting self build schemes.
  • Buildings must also provide access for people of all abilities and needs

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