New research shows how building design influences the economic diversity of a neighbourhood
New evidence based on a longitudinal study (1930-80) by C S Kayatekin “Architectural form: flexibility, subdivision and diversity in Manhattan loft buildings” examined the intricate relationship between the built environment and economic aspects of a city. With detailed analysis at the individual building-level, Kayatekin analyses the relationship between the physical and economic fabric of the Midtown Garment District of New York City. Different aspects of building design are identified for their positive and negative impacts on the business tenants occupying the space over time. This novel analysis of change over time offers insight into the potential flexibility of buildings, and its implications for economic robustness: responsiveness to changing tenant needs and economic conditions. These findings have clear value for clients, investors, planners, practitioners and researchers looking to understand how to create a resilient built environment.
The economic specialisations of the tenants were identified (all related to the garment industry), and used to measure the density of economic diversity. This metric was calculated as the number of tenants of different economic specialisations listed in a building divided by the building’s gross floor area. The author suggests that a high performing building (in terms of flexibility and diversity) consistently supports 10 or more different specialisations per 10,000 ft2 of gross floor area, for each year.
Six building characteristics are identified as important for supporting higher density of economic diversity:
Thus, buildings with these features are more likely to support a higher degree of flexibility in ability to accommodate different tenants, and also greater diversity in the types of tenant. Economic benefits arise for the landlord (higher tenancy rates, increased income) and for the tenants (ease of expansion and contraction).
This investigation of building parameters and how they influence the ability to change over time provides much-needed insight into designing for adaptability. In particular, a robust economic argument is made for creating adaptable buildings: they can provide financial resilience as economic circumstances change over time.For example, if a large organisation occupying a whole floor of a building vacates the space, an adaptable building can be easily subdivided to accommodate multiple smaller organisations to enter and fulfil the tenancy. Thus, design decisions of key characteristics (i.e. cores, corridors, facades, light and air) have economic impacts. This emphasises the need for clients and planners to stipulate design for adaptability. In turn, architects and construction firms could use the findings presented here to develop a series of rules for ensuring that their buildings are flexible and resilient.
The research findings negate the assumption that larger buildings would support higher density of economic diversity. Instead, smaller buildings were found to support greater density of economic diversity. This leads the author to suggest that large scale buildings designed using the parameters found in smaller scale buildings could support increased economic diversity and inclusivity.
In particular, asymmetric cores (placed back from the street front and to the side of the floorplan) and unified communal corridors (rather than, for example, two separate corridors) can support greater mix in unit sizes and flexibility over time. For example, Kayatekin finds that unified communal corridors can allow for further sub-division without hindering access to two means of exit (as required by planning codes) (see Figure 1).
With regard to building facade, the paper finds that regularised increments of walls and windows could allow for a greater degree of internal wall rearrangement and thus support greater diversity over time. Kayatekin highlights two key reasons for this:
The topics of adaptability and flexibility in building design will be further explored in a forthcoming Buildings & Cities special issue on Housing Adaptability (due for publication mid-2022).
An alternative approach to delivering safe, sustainable surgical theatre environments
C A Short, A W Woods, L Drumright, R Zia & N Mingotti
Integrating low energy cooling & ventilation strategies in Indian residences
M J Cook, Y Shukla, R Rawal, C Angelopoulos, L Caruggi-De-Faria, D Loveday, E Spentzou, & J Patel
Balconies as adaptable spaces in apartment housing
T Peters & S Masoudinejad
Residential geothermal air-conditioning: inhabitants’ comfort, behaviour and energy use
L Thomas, A Woods, R Powles, P Kalali, & S Wilkinson
Energy retrofit and passive cooling: overheating and air quality in primary schools
D Grassie, Y Schwartz, P Symonds, I Korolija, A Mavrogianni & D Mumovic
Outdoor PM2.5 air filtration: optimising indoor air quality and energy
E Belias & D Licina
Architects’ ‘enforced togetherness’: new design affordances of the home
E Marco, M Tahsiri, D Sinnett & S Oliveira
Overheating assessment in Passivhaus dwellings: the influence of prediction tools
V L Goncalves, V Costanzo, K Fabbri & T Rakha
The use of apartment balconies: context, design & social norms
M Smektała & M Baborska-Narożny
Sharing a home under lockdown in London
F Blanc & K Scanlon
Projected climate data for building design: barriers to use
P Rastogi, A Laxo, L Cecil &D Overbey
Residents’ views on adaptable housing: a virtual reality-based study
J Tarpio & S Huuhka
Technological transitions in climate control: lessons from the House of Lords
Internal thermal mass for passive cooling and ventilation: adaptive comfort limits, ideal quantities, embodied carbon
T de Toldi, S Craig & L Sushama
Understanding air-conditioned lives: qualitative insights from Doha
Living with air-conditioning: experiences in Dubai, Chongqing & London
N Murtagh, S Badi, Y Shi, S Wei, W Yu
Air-conditioning in New Zealand: power and policy
H Byrd, S Matthewman & E Rasheed
Summertime overheating in UK homes: is there a safe haven?
P Drury, S Watson & K J Lomas
Survey study on energy use in UK homes during Covid-19
G M Huebner, N E Watson, K Direk, E McKenna, E Webborn, F Hollick, S Elam & T Oreszczyn
Ceiling-fan-integrated air-conditioning: thermal comfort evaluations
M Luo, H Zhang, Z Wang, E Arens, W Chen, F S Bauman & P Raftery
The future of IEQ in green building certifications
D Licina, P Wargocki, C Pyke & S Altomonte
The significance of urban systems on sustainability and public health [editorial]
J Taylor & P Howden-Chapman
Empowered by planning law: unintended outcomes in the Helsinki region
A Joutsiniemi, M Vaattovaara & J Airaksinen
Climate change projections for sustainable and healthy cities
C Goodess, S Berk, S B Ratna, O Brousse, M Davies, C Heaviside, G Moore & H Pineo
Retrofit at scale: accelerating capabilities for domestic building stocks [editorial]
F Wade & H J Visscher
Philip Steadman (University College London) has authored a dozen books over 50 years. Reflecting on his own experiences, he offers some advice to new authors planning to publish books about architecture and building.
Philip Steadman (University College London) revisits and critiques this influential book by Christopher Alexander (1936-2022). Its method relies in part on the mathematics of set and graph theory, together with a computer technique for analysing complex systems and dividing them into their component sub-systems.