Identifying Physical Features that Facilitate and Impede Building Adaptation

Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 131)


Interest in adaptable building design has increased in recent years, with many researchers and organizations recommending adaptable design strategies. However, there is a dearth of empirical evidence to confirm the efficacy of these strategies. The purpose of the current project is to collect empirical data to identify physical features of buildings that facilitate and impede adaptation. This was done through a survey of design and construction professionals, in which participants described adaptation projects they have participated in. Physical features were the focus of the research, rather than contextual issues (i.e. features of a building’s setting and community). The focus on physical features was selected with the intent of aiding professionals during the design phase of new buildings. The preliminary results presented in this paper revealed a wide range of physical factors associated with the adaptability of buildings, with the most commonly reported factors aligning with “loose fit” and “long life” adaptable design strategies. Other factors, including modular design and access to information, were also observed. Results of this paper can be used to support adaptable design decisions in new construction.


Survey Adaptability Flexibility Obsolescence Expert elicitation 


  1. 1.
    Alba-Rodríguez, M.D., Martínez-Rocamora, A., González-Vallejo, P., Ferreira-Sánchez, A., Marrero, M.: Building rehabilitation versus demolition and new construction: economic and environmental assessment. Environ. Impact Assess. Rev. 66, 115–126 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ross, B.E., Chen, D.A., Conejos, S., Khademi, A.: Enabling adaptable buildings: results of a preliminary expert survey. Procedia Eng. 145, 420–427 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dolnick, F., Davidson, M.: A glossary of zoning, development, and planning terms. American Planning Association (1999)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Douglas, J.: Building Adaptation. Routledge, London (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Morgan, C., Stevenson, F.: Design and Detailing for Deconstruction. Scottish Ecological Design Association (2005)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Structural Engineering Institute: Sustainability guidelines for the structural engineer. American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA (2010)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Environmental Protection Agency: Design for Deconstruction Manual. EPA (2015)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Schmidt III, R., Austin, S.: Adaptable Architecture: Theory and Practice. Routledge, New York (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wilkinson, S., Remoy, H., Langston, C.: Sustainable Building Adaptation: Innovations in Decision-Making. Wiley, Hoboken (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Pinder, J., Schmidt III, R., Saker, J.: Stakeholder perspectives on developing more adaptable buildings. Constr. Manag. Econ. 31(5), 440–459 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Israelsson, N., Hansson, B.: Factors influencing flexibility in buildings. Struct. Surv. 27(2), 138–147 (2009)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Conejos, S., Langston, C., Smith, J.: AdaptSTAR model: a climate-friendly strategy to promote built environment sustainability. Habitat Int. 37, 95–103 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Gordon, A.: Designing for survival: the President introduces his long life/loose fit/low energy study. R. Inst. Br. Arch. J. 79(9), 374–376 (1972)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Webster, M.: Structural design for adaptability and deconstruction: a strategy for closing the materials loop and increasing building value. In: New Horizons and Better Practices, pp. 1–6 (2007)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Olsen, W.: Data Collection: Key Debates and Methods in Social Research, pp. 119–120. SAGE Publications Ltd., London (2014)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Brace, I.: Questionnaire Design: How to Plan, Structure, and Write Survey Material for Effective Market Research. Kogan Page, London (2004)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    de Silva, N., Dulaimi, M.F., Ling, F.Y., Ofori, G.: Improving the maintainability of buildings in Singapore. Build. Environ. 39(10), 1243–1251 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Langston, C.: The sustainability implications of building adaptive reuse. In: CRIOCM 2008 International Research Symposium on Advancement of Construction Management and Real Estate, Beijing, China (2008)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Clemson University: The Barnes Center: History of the Barnes Center.
  20. 20.
    National Science Foundation: Award Abstract #1553565.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clemson UniversityClemsonUSA

Personalised recommendations