Evaluating the adaptability of an industrialized building using dependency structure matrices

A relatively neglected aspect of sustainable development is the creation of an enduring built environment that can be adapted to suit changing circumstances. This presents a significant challenge: how to evaluate a building's adaptability. The premise is introduced that adaptability is enhanced through the use of analytical tools which can provide better control of the building's system architecture that enables easier, and less costly, user-driven adaptations. More specifically it investigates what a dependency structure matrix (DSM), a square (N × N) matrix-based model that visualizes the relationships between elements within a system, can reveal about the capacity for an industrialized building to accommodate change, through clustering and impact analyses. Clustering analysis attempts to assess the system architecture on generic principles of change by organizing it into discrete modules, while the impact analysis examines propagation in 30 change scenarios by tracing dependencies within the DSM. Feasibility assessments of the scenarios are compared with the knowledge of a system expert. The results indicate the DSM analysis provided insights beyond the intuition of the system expert regarding change propagation, while the system expert's knowledge of component characteristics and overall composition of the building proved beyond the capacity of the DSM. Additional conclusions are drawn from the case study regarding DSM construction and the analytical process.