Adaptable and sustainable design are two ideas that go hand in glove, so they are complimentary. That means they have a few differences as well as similarities.
A home needs to adapt over time in response to the changes in its owners lives. If it doesn’t they can and do move out. For little more than the cost of changing address it’s possible to change or alter a property in a meaningful way, allowing for long-term liveability and habitation.
This can be achieved in a series of small steps or stages, in line with a strategic plan listed below.
Environmentally sustainable refers to energy efficiency and the ability of a building to provide physical comfort. Social sustainability refers to the level of long-term psychological comfort a home provides. If it adapts to change easily it will easily be occupied long-term, which is essential to keeping the neighbourhood cohesive: keeping people together.
The best way to achieve this is to have a long-term plan to cover all the stages owners might have in their lives. This can then be implement by keeping the alterations to a minimum and the additions optimised, providing best value for money, and minimising disruption to the routine, providing best value for time. One of the keys to this is aiming to minimise the extent of demolition or work that has to be “un-done” at a later stage. It sounds simple but, it takes a lot of thought.
Here are some hints for adaptable living:
- Adopt a strategic plan.
- Easy entry (few steps).
- Clear access through home.
- Wide access, allowing for easy accessibility and mobility, particularly in later years.
- Avoid internal stairs.
- Internal colours: make them contrast to assist with visual impairment.