The Adaptable House

The Adaptable House forms part of a large development project financed by Realdania Byg. The project includes a total of six single-family houses, which illustrate different aspects of resource consumption and CO2 emission in construction, operation and maintenance.

The Adaptable House centres around flexibility and identifies how a flexible design of a single-family house can save time, resources and CO2 in connection with conversions and extensions.

The house is designed as a single-family house of 146 m2 and focuses on our changing needs and requirements for our home through life. Couples get together and have children who grow up and move away from home. Some couples are divorced – and in any case, our mobility and ability to take care of ourselves in our own home are gradually weakened.  The Adaptable House offers a number of specific solutions for addressing the changed needs as they arise.

The house can be adapted to new life patterns, ranging from family increases to new aesthetic requirements. In the adaptation process, the need for new materials is minimised – and in many cases, large conversions or extensions can be avoided and replaced by a changed spatial and functional layout.

Adaptable parameters
In the design of the house, adaptability is coupled with an overall vision to reduce CO2 emissions. Special features about The Adaptable House include:
• The house components can be demounted and extended without destruction of existing components.
• The replaced components can be reused in new networks.
• The components are produced in standard sizes and from standard materials.

The adaptability not only lies in the house itself, but in the many possibilities for new functional layouts that it offers. Every configuration is a complete house – but as new needs arise, the solution is obvious and easy to implement.

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On the first floor, the partition walls are designed as moveable cupboard walls. This saves materials and room as the walls can easily be moved around so you get 1, 2, 3 or 4 rooms depending on the chosen organisation. As the load-bearing walls are integrated into the façade, the partition walls can be moved around as you wish.

All wires are grouped in an aluminum bar, which replaces traditional foot panels and makes it possible to place sockets exactly where you want them. There are three natural places in the house for extensions. The windows can be reused, and the modular façade does not have to be opened – it is only necessary to cut into the existing joints.

The modular design ensures that new entrances can easily be installed in the façade – for instance for the children of the house who wish more privacy as they grow up. The kitchen/dining area can easily be divided by means of sliding walls if you wish for the kitchen and dining area to be separate.

The Adaptable House offers substantial CO2 savings. A family can save 26 tons CO2 by choosing The Adaptable House in preference to a standard house (based on a 170 m2 house with an energy consumption of 60 kWh/m2/year). In addition, a family saves 33 tons CO2 annually for heating and operation of The Adaptable House compared with a standard house.

The Adaptable House consumes 36 % less energy than a standard house. This primarily owes to its geometry, which is designed to reduce energy consumption. In addition, the optimised spatial layout means that excess square metres for e.g. corridor spaces are avoided. Another reason for the low energy consumption is the modular design, which provides high air density and a minimum of joints, which are often the weak point in the heat balance.

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Studies show that approx. two out of three families who change addresses move to a new location within the same municipality. This illustrates that it is often deficiencies in the house and not the local community which make families move. The Adaptable House can be accommodated to meet changing needs and requirements and can thus reduce the number of relocations, which affect CO2 emissions and are a demanding process for the residents.

About the development project
Realdania Byg is behind six demonstration houses in Nyborg, which illustrate different ways of minimising CO2 emissions. The six houses constitute a CO2 laboratory that will identify the single-family houses of tomorrow and their CO2 accounts. The project looks into the CO2 accounts of the houses in all stages: Construction, operation and maintenance.

The six houses are based on the same design framework:
• The building should be a single-family house
• Size: 130-172 m2
• Budget: Average economy
• Architectural design with broad appeal
• Sale of the houses after completed experiment

Each house zooms in at specific aspects of the potential for reducing CO2 emissions, and all houses represent qualified responses to the challenges posed by themselves. The overall objective of the development project is to gain experience and create debate.

The Adaptable House is based on Henning Larsen Architects’ sustainable design method, which minimises the overall environmental impact of the project from the very first sketch.

The method operates with three levels: energy reduction; energy optimisation and energy production. At an early design stage, the building geometry is optimised by means of professional calculations and simulations of daylight, performed by Henning Larsen Architects’ in-house experts. This reduces the need for artificial lightning and costly heating and ventilation solutions.

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Subsequently, low-maintenance, easily operated technical solutions are incorporated into the project, optimising the energy performance of the building. If the desired energy classification is not obtained by these measures, energy-producing technologies such as solar cells or geothermal heat pumps are integrated into the project.

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