In 1972, in prescient anticipation of an environmental crisis, then Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President Alex Gordon delivered his paper on ‘long life, loose fit, low energy’. Revisiting this concept and investigating how we make architecture with the ability to flex, Alex Lifschutz has guest edited this edition of Architectural Design drawing together essays and thinking from a distinguished roster of academics and practitioners.
The idea that a building is ‘finished’ or ‘complete’ on the day it opens its doors is hardwired into existing thinking about design, construction and planning. But this ignores the unprecedented rate of social and technological change. A building only begins its life when the contractors leave. With resources at a premium and a greater need for a sustainable use of building materials, can we still afford to construct new housing or indeed any buildings that ignore the need for flexibility or the ability to evolve over time? Our design culture needs to move beyond the idealisation of a creative individual designer generating highly specific forms with fixed uses. The possibilities of adaptation and flexibility have often been overlooked, but they create hugely exciting ‘loosefit’ architectures that emancipate users to create their own versatile and vibrant environments.
Jorge Andrade, Ann-Julchen Bernhardt, Steward Brand, Renee Y Chow, Ellen Dunham-Jones, John Habraken, Edwin Heathcote, Despina Katsakakis, Stephen Kendall, Ian Lambot, Jorg Lesser, Giorgio Maachi, Alexi Marmot, Andrea Martin, Kazsunobu Minami, Luca Molinari, Peter Murray, Simon Sturgis, June Williamson, Clare Wright