News Brief

The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change

by Avi Friedman. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2002. Hardcover, 271 pages, $45.00

A renowned advocate of flexible housing, Avi Friedman has fleshed out his ideas on adaptability in his recently released book,

The Adaptable House. Friedman begins with the assertion that “A conflict exists between the dynamic nature of people’s lives and the homes in which they choose to reside.” Occupants, Friedman proposes, need not play the role of contortionists fitting into rigid homes. Rather, “achieving a close fit between the evolving space needs of occupants and their homes ought to be simpler…”

In the late nineteenth century, designers of traditional plexes created rooms of equal-dimension sizes that let occupants decide their uses and the changes to them later during the occupancy. Due to their adaptable character, these units undergo very little transformation over the years.

From The Adaptable House by Avi Friedman
The first part of

The Adaptable House explains how shifting demographics and technologies demand flexible living spaces. It also traces a brief history of trends in North American and European housing characteristics—including current practices and projections of future trends in home design. Next, Friedman suggests methods of achieving greater adaptability, both before and after a home has been completed. Large-scale considerations are explored, including a home’s dimensions, façade design, and assembly, as well as interior design issues such as the division of spaces, functions of rooms, and surface finishes. Finally, Friedman illustrates his suggestions with example homes designed to accommodate changes in technologies, site conditions, and occupant life-style or mobility.

Though his book is detail-oriented and laden with illustrations and floor plans, Friedman never loses sight of his guiding principle that adaptability “is first and foremost a state of mind.”

Published February 1, 2003

(2003, February 1). The Adaptable House: Designing Homes for Change. Retrieved from

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