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Rhythmic Buildings - a framework for sustainable adaptable architecture

Lookup NU author(s): Layla van Ellen, Professor Ben BridgensORCiD, Dr Neil Burford, Professor Oliver Heidrich



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Adaptable architecture responds to global challenges such as climate change, depleting resources and biodi- versity. We argue here that Rhythmic Buildings incorporate many aspects of adaptation through an integrated approach. Rhythmic buildings react to the various parameters of the sustainability context. This conceptual paper develops a framework for adaptable architecture that includes the sustainability context based on the three pillars of sustainability and incorporates systems thinking. Building on a qualitative literature review the research categorises themes by considering practice examples and illustrates the drivers that motivate the research of adaptable architecture. We present a timeline of adaptability strategies demonstrating how the field has shifted and focussed on specific challenges such as climate change. Our research shows that current practices mainly consider buildings and building components that are responsive to the changing requirements for user comfort and energy reduction. This manuscript proposes a structured framework that considers adaptability and recommends a strategy of Rhythmic Buildings for future adaptable design. The framework uses a systems approach to identify the rhythms of the sustainability context which guides future adaptable concepts as input and output for a balanced design. Finally, we present our vision for Rhythmic Buildings and how this can be taken forward by researcher and practitioner alike.

Publication metadata

Author(s): van Ellen LA, Bridgens BN, Burford N, Heidrich O

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Building and Environment

Year: 2021

Volume: 203

Print publication date: 01/10/2021

Online publication date: 24/06/2021

Acceptance date: 19/06/2021

Date deposited: 20/07/2021

ISSN (print): 0360-1323

ISSN (electronic): 1873-684X

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108068


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