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Rural and suburban adaptations for the 21st century home: seven desires for an uncertain future

Platt, C.J. (2009) Rural and suburban adaptations for the 21st century home: seven desires for an uncertain future. Design Principles and Practices, 3 (Issue ). pp. 473-482.

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Abstract

In 'The Place of Houses', Charles Moore, Gerald Allen and Donlyn Lyndon wrote: 'Rooms are empty stages for human drama-ritual and improvisation. Nowadays, ritual is not as important as improvisation, therefore shapes become more casual. Spanning spaces grows easier. Now space costs more, we require a room to be versatile in its functions.' Rapidly-changing contemporary family and social needs and aspirations are placing considerable demands on existing developer-built residential fabric from the 19th and 20th century. While on the one hand, some building stock may boast strong existing external character yet suffer from rigid internal arrangements, others may display spectacular architectural mediocrity but be located on sites of high quality. Most will perform poorly environmentally on any recent sustainability criteria. Spatial, social and energy issues all impact the 'host' structure in ascertaining its potential to be the stage set for a new series of domestic dramas in the 21st century. Individual clients have often informed attitudes to what will be their single biggest investment. Through a series of built projects, existing domestic buildings from a variety of periods are explored to establish to what extent their new role in people's lives demands them to be 'sets' or 'players' in a contemporary performance where script and players are being engaged simultaneously. Particular focus is given to the exploration of spaces which accommodates several places at once (inclusive rooms) and the edge condition of any space (the inhabited perimeter).