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Change Factors and the Adaptability of Buildings

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Kamara, Professor Oliver Heidrich, Vincenza Tafaro



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The adaptability of buildings addresses the responses of buildings to the changing needs of owners/users and the demands of external factors, over their lifecycle. An understanding of these changes is therefore key to the creation of adaptable buildings. This paper reports research which was aimed at modelling building changes to better understand the challenges for their adaptability. An in-depth study of the changes in selected case studies was conducted to understand the nature, characteristics, and implications of these changes for buildings and their ability to adapt. The findings from these case studies were analyzed against theoretical models reported in the literature on change and adaptability. As a result, a model was developed that identified and categorized a wide spectrum of changes to the building fabric within the broad remit of adaptability that are triggered by many factors, which are sometimes external to the building or organization. In the cases investigated, it was found that the factors that lead to actual changes to buildings were not necessarily due to the ease of making those changes, but rather the organizational will and means to make the changes. Similarly, changes were made not because the building systems were obsolete, but because of non-building factors. The timings of changes therefore did not correspond to the assumed lifespan models of different building layers, suggesting that a new way of predicting and/or categorizing building changes is needed. Furthermore, the interrelationships and nature of the triggers for change suggest that the adaptability of buildings is not just about building systems, but also about non-building factors. Thus, the further exploration of non-building triggers and enablers for change using the developed model presented here, will further enhance the creation of more adaptable buildings.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kamara JM, Heidrich O, Tafaro VE, Maltese S, Dejaco MC, Re Cecconi F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sustainability

Year: 2020

Volume: 12

Issue: 16

Online publication date: 14/08/2020

Acceptance date: 12/08/2020

Date deposited: 24/08/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2071-1050

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/su12166585


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Funder referenceFunder name
BH153225Newcastle University - Internally Funded Projects