Designed for Flexibility
When we began designing the miniloft building, we had intended to construct a mixed-use building based on office space and conventional apartments. We developed the miniloft idea of renting short-term loft apartments in 2002 just before we finished renovating the existing nineteenth century building.
This miniloft experiment was so successful that we redesigned the new building just before we began construction one year later. Because our design was inherently flexible, we could accommodate this completely different use by making minor modifications.
The miniloft building's adaptable features enable it to easily meet other such unforeseen demands in the future.
Our original design for the new building was based on office space. We had planned to create one unit per floor of about 100 sqm. To convert to the minilofts, we redesigned the original plan by shifting the utilities core to the middle of the floor plate. This meant that we could build two independent miniloft units per floor.
Relocating the core makes the space more flexible for future uses. It would, for example, enable us to make one large apartment or office space per floor.
Each ribbed concrete floor plate cantilevers beyond the column in two directions. This structure makes it easy to create a single loft space by removing the partition wall and one of the kitchen/bathroom modules.
Furthermore the floor plate panels between the beam ribs can be removed to create an interior staircase connecting any two floors.
The building technology was designed to the best standard available when it was built in 2004. The conduit system inside the floor plate, and along the facade, make it easy to upgrade the wiring to meet future standards.
For example, since the building opened, we have already re-wired parts of the building to improve our guest's access to the miniloft internet network.
Creatively adapting existing structures is perhaps the single most important problem in sustainable urban development. It saves building costs, and reduces the amount of primary energy that goes to waste when a building is demolished and reconstructed (not to mention landfill and disposal). designing for flexibility is a pivotal factor in new construction, because it makes future adaptation more likely.
We design flexibility into our buildings to ensure that they will be cherished and useful well beyond our own life time.