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How flexible is good?
Where should a development sit on a flexibility spectrum?
Nothing too complex in here, just a selection of questions to help open your mind when it comes to designing for future flexibility versus the challenges of the ‘here and now’.
There is always a balance and there is certainly no right answer. I think as we see value being better understood across these issues it will help justify enhanced up-front thinking, and hopefully lead to more optimum products being delivered. It is still too easy to design and develop ‘as was done on the previous job’, but we have to start thinking differently and challenging the status quo.
Should a development be as flexible as possible or as efficiently designed for its immediate intended use - what if the needs of the building change relatively quickly?
Should a development maximise the massing potential on a site or only build the massing required for the immediate intended use/occupier - is it not most efficient to fill out a site in one hit, rather than piecemeal additions over time?
Should a development be designed for one use, or multiple uses that can rotate in harmony - this could make full use of all the hours in a day, days in a week, months in a year, seasons...?
Should a development meet current loading standards throughout, or move away from these in carefully considered zones? Or should it be over designed with increased loading capacity?
Should townscape and heritage planning restrictions trump all other factors - what if they could flex slightly to allow design efficiency to be fine-tuned?
Should a development have specific pieces of structure over-designed to allow for future additions without major intervention?
Should a development be labelled with a 60 year design life if we all intend it to be standing long after that time passes?
Should a development take down existing buildings, perhaps heritage stock, and replace them with more efficient new construction?
Should a development be built using the most cost effective and speedy construction now or be carefully constructed to allow disassembly later?