Loughborough University
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Economic considerations for adaptability in buildings

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posted on 2012-03-12, 13:55 authored by R.M.A.S. Manewa
The existing buildings in the UK are not designed to be functionally adaptive to fit a spectrum of purposes. Alternatively, scrapping these buildings and building anew does not appear to be an economically viable and environmentally sustainable solution either. Proactive solutions to respond to future potential changes of use are rare in previous and current building designs, which ultimately make these buildings functionally redundant. At present, curiosity about adaptable buildings is spreading among owners, developers and policy makers; however, no detailed investigation has been undertaken to identify the economic costs and benefits of adaptability in new buildings. Thus, the present endeavour was designed to bridge this gap. The research exploited both case studies and survey designs to explore the answers to the above problem. Two case studies were undertaken to establish that building changes occur over time, as well as to assess their economic implications in the current built environment at both macro and micro levels. Three web-based surveys (WBS) were designed and circulated among quantity surveyors and architects of the 100 leading consultancy practices in the UK to identify both the design and economic aspects of adaptability in buildings. The total numbers of respondents to WBS1, WBS2 and WBS3 were 13, 32 and 42, respectively. In addition, data was collected from semi-structured interviews with two policy makers, two structural engineers, a quantity surveyor and a facilities manager. Unstructured interviews with a senior planner, a project manager, two architects and a services engineer were used to clarify the issues of design and planning for adaptability in buildings. The findings were interwoven to develop a conceptual framework to identify the economic considerations for adaptability in new buildings. Two workshops were undertaken with the industry partners for the Adaptable Futures research project to verify the results obtained from the case studies and to test the usability of the developed conceptual framework. The group members had multi-disciplinary backgrounds of architecture, quantity surveying and structural engineering, allowing a robust grounding for verification. The results contribute to the body of knowledge in two ways. Firstly, the developed conceptual framework identifies the economic considerations (costs and benefits) for change of use in buildings within the wider context of adaptability over the lifecycle aspects. This will assist owners/clients and developers in their economic decisions for designing new buildings for potential adaptations. Secondly, the research findings strengthen the reliability of the existing body of knowledge whilst confirming the urgent need for designing new buildings towards potential adaptations. In addition, the findings strongly emphasise plan depth and floor to ceiling height as the most influential design parameters for building change of use, the details of which are not highlighted in the previous literature.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering


© R.M.A.S. Manewa

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en