Knowledge PartnersDanish Building Research Institute (Aalborg University), Kebony, Hth, Ytong
Text description provided by the architects. The Adaptable House is part of a large development project: The MiniCO2 Houses. The project involves a total of six detached houses, each of which illustrates various aspects of reducing CO2 emissions in the construction, use and maintenance of a house.
The Adaptable House focuses on flexibility and adaptability and examines how a flexible design can save materials and thereby CO2 as well as time and resources in connection with alterations and extensions to the building.
The house is designed as a 146-m² single-family detached home and focuses on the changing needs and requirements of the Danish family as it moves through the various stages of home life. Couples move in together and have children. Children grow up and become teenagers. Children move away from home. The need arises for a home-based office. Couples divorce. A partner dies, the survivor lives alone – perhaps experiencing poor health, etc.
The Adaptable House has been designed and laid out in advance to be able to handle these changing needs as they arise.
Studies also show that roughly two out of three Danish families who move house tend to stay within the same local community – suggesting that it is most often shortcomings in the house, not in the local community, that make families move. The Adaptable House can meet such wishes for change. It can be adapted to a range of new life patterns – everything from additions to the family to renewed aesthetic requirements – without requiring the purchase of loads of new materials.
The principal aim in the design of the house has been to reduce carbon emissions by providing a flexible and functional layout. This means that:
- The components of the house can be dismantled, and the house can be expanded without destroying existing components.
- The replaced components can be reused in new contexts.
- The components are fabricated in standard sizes and from standard materials.
With its built‑in adaptability the house offers many new functional possibilities. For example:
On the first floor, partition walls are designed as movable storage-cabinet walls. Only the outer walls are loadbearing. Internal walls can be moved around to create 1, 2, 3 or 4 rooms.
All cabling runs in an aluminium cable duct which replaces the traditional skirting board, enabling electrical sockets to be placed where convenient.
The modular design ensures that new entrances in the façade can easily be established, e.g. for a teenager needing his or her own entrance.
The kitchen can be either an enclosed space or open towards the dining and/or living room using sliding walls if desired.
Reducing carbon emissions
Carbon emissions after any changes in the building layout are significantly less in the Adaptable House than in the Reference House (1 kg CO2/m²/year compared with 2 kg CO2/m²/year over a 50-year period). However, these savings are of only moderate importance in the overall carbon profile – because the materials used in adapting the building often do not have a great carbon impact.
CO2 emissions from materials used in the construction of the Adaptable House are a little less than those for the Reference House (4.5 kg CO2/m²/year compared with 5 kg CO2/m²/year over a 50-year period). There is thus very little carbon “penalty” to pay for such a high degree of adaptability.
The MiniCO2 Houses development project
The Adaptable House is one of six demonstration homes built in the coastal town of Nyborg in central Denmark. Five of the houses examine various ways of reducing carbon emissions; the sixth house brings these experiences together.
For many years, the efforts of the building industry to reduce CO2 emissions – not without reason – have focused on energy for heating and therefore also on airtightness and insulation. However, as national and EU building requirements become ever stricter in this area, it becomes relevant to examine how the industry can also reduce carbon emissions – for example, in terms of materials and of user behaviour.
The main objective of the MiniCO2 Houses development project is thus to reduce CO2 emissions in the construction, operation and maintenance of a house.