the way we live

flexibility in architecture

as we discussed in my last thesis update, at the heart of my thesis is the issue of flexibility in architecture.  as part of an exploration into what this means i spent some time breaking it down into flexible typologies (from here i will begin to distill out the most appropriate types of flexibility for my project).  i more than welcome any thoughts you may have on the issue (diagrams i sketched apply to the category immediately following).


adaptable.  adaptable structures features repositionable partitions or are changeable per user/occupant (case studies: rietveld schroeder house, japanese housing).


universal.  what typifies a universally flexible building is its ease of adaptation per use.  these buildings are often characterized by open floor plans and typology free design (case studies: s.r. crown hall, eames house).


movable.  movable flexible buildings consist of relocatable or repositionable structures or buildings capable of being torn down and reassembled in another location (case studies: nomadic tents, airstream trailers).


transformable.  characterized by modular design (capable of adding or removing units or components) transformable structures can also open and close, change form, or change color (case studies: plug-in city, university of phoenix stadium).


responsive.  responsive buildings can respond to a number of external stimuli, including, but not limited to, energy/environment, interaction, usage, or occupation (case studies: allianz arena, institut du monde arab).

15 November 2007 - Posted by | architecture, thesis


  1. […] bowl i found a post over on bldgblog, one of my favorite blogs, on a topic near and dear to me: flexible architecture.  as i’ve been discussing recently, notions of flexible architecture are at the heart of my […]

    Pingback by lab zero « the way we live | 25 November 2007 | Reply

  2. i just stumbled across your website and found your thesis interesting. i have been quite interested in flexible building…but wondered how you had thought about issues of style, fashion, branding, and our consumer culture. while flexiblity is a great a noble pursuit, you can not ignore the obvious pitfall…disposability.

    thoughts? good luck on your pursuit,

    Comment by raj | 27 November 2007 | Reply

  3. i think you’ve hit on a great point raj. there is a fine line somewhere in there between flexibility and disposability. i suppose the hope is that if designed smartly and successfully the flexible building isn’t disposable but can adapt and evolve to meet the new demands. but the bigger question is “is disposable bad?” sure on the surface anyone would seemingly argue of course, but i think there is more going on in that question than what’s at the surface. for starter’s we no longer live the way we used to. our lives and livelihoods have changed. we move constantly, change jobs, all part of a global culture and economy of impermanence. should anything be permanent for that matter? of course there’s always the environmental issue when one brings up the idea of disposability. maybe it’s not so much disposability as it’s responsible growth? isn’t is possible that these buildings/units/etc could be relocated where they are needed as they are needed, not actually “disposed?” i’m not sure about a lot of this myself. but the point you raise is poignant and certainly something i am exploring in my thesis. as i progress i will be sure to post more in relation to this idea. thanks for your comment!

    Comment by Geoff | 28 November 2007 | Reply

  4. […] into and out of the the provided framework allowing for an ever evolving transformable piece of flexible architecture.  to further the “machines for living” analogy, people essentially serve as raw […]

    Pingback by plug-in city « the way we live | 3 December 2007 | Reply

    • Your thesis topic is very interesting, it is actually one of my objectives to identify known concepts of flexibility in architecture and apply it to my design. I would just like to know how did you identify these concepts? And would like to ask for permission to use your article. Hoping for your reply, thank you.

      Comment by catherinegantan | 24 January 2017 | Reply

  5. hi geoff am raghu, i am very much intrested in tranformable housing n i have choosen it as my thesis. so if u can help out i will b vry thankful to u

    Comment by raghu | 18 April 2008 | Reply

  6. raghu i would be more then happy to you out in any way i could. feel free to email question to: waywelive[at]gmail[dot]com or post them here. i’m sure i could point you to some great research and case studies as well. i know i’ve been absent around here for a while but rest assured it is a function of me finishing my own thesis which is due here in about a week, after which i plan on being back full time!

    Comment by Geoff | 25 April 2008 | Reply

  7. hi goeff,wre did u do ur case studies………

    Comment by raghu | 27 July 2008 | Reply

  8. Dear Geoff very nice to write about it in your blog,my thesies is also about flexibility for prefab housing but focusing on forms not being movable,i am interested to know what did you suggest for your prefab panel ,i mean what is it’s layering contained ?thx in advanced

    Comment by goli | 6 September 2008 | Reply

  9. It is not clear in your thesis whether flexibility is an “end” or a “means” (to something else). You assume that it is an “end” and it may not be.

    Comment by Regan | 17 October 2008 | Reply

  10. great thought by you for explaning flexibility in architecture

    Comment by tanveer | 29 January 2010 | Reply

  11. where can one find study material to find about flexibility in architecture and to study examples of the same

    Comment by shweta | 16 February 2010 | Reply


    Comment by SHAH | 18 February 2010 | Reply

  13. dear geoff, would you like to send me an email about your thesis. same with shah, i’m interested on this topic. thank’s before.

    Comment by ndz is nandi | 30 October 2010 | Reply

  14. dear geoff, would you like to send me an email about your thesis. same with shah, i’m interested on this topic. thank’s before.

    Comment by ndz is nandi | 30 October 2010 | Reply

  15. Hi!
    Great job!
    I think you’ll find this book very interesting:
    “Transformations: Paradigms for Designing Transformable Places” by Kostis Oungrinis, A Harvard GSD publication. []

    Comment by Lelia | 22 April 2011 | Reply

  16. mies van der rohe and lokorboziye

    Comment by marjanhajihashemi | 13 May 2011 | Reply

  17. hi geoff. My name is André Vergueiro. I’m a Portuguese architecture student and I came across with your blog while working on my master’s dissertation. I was wondering if you could give me your name since I cannot find any information about you, so I can write your name in my bibliography. It would be important since I’ll “use” your synthesis about flexible typologies, emphasizing on the adaptable feature.

    I find your work very pertinent regarding a chapter i’m currently writing about space appropriation. I believe flexibility is a useful tool so the space can change with us, since we are currently transforming ourselves in our life. I also agree with you about the thin ice layer between flexibility and disposability.

    kind regars,

    André Vergueiro

    Here’s my mail in case you want to speak directly to me:

    Comment by André Vergueiro | 25 May 2011 | Reply

    • hey Andre… I am Aishwarya, studying architecture in India. I am doing a dissertation on Flexible Architecture and would like to learn more from your research. We could share resources on the same.

      Mail me at

      Comment by Aishwarya | 6 August 2011 | Reply

  18. Hello! My name is anna timmermans. Im an architecture student (from belgium), working on my endthesis. My thesis is about flexible façades. It is hard to find good information about this subject. This blog is then interesting to read about. It makes me curious also to your thesis. Do you have any good tips for books, articles, on-line lectures,… that would help a lot! thanks!
    you can contact me on my mail:

    Comment by anna | 5 July 2011 | Reply

  19. Hi Geoff.. My name is Aishwarya. I study architecture in India and am currently working on a dissertation based on the subject of Flexible Architecture. I came across your blog and found the pictorial depiction of different categories of ‘flexibility’ very interesting. I want to adapt a similar form of presentation in my dissertation and would like your details or even a link to your completed thesis for my bibliography and study.
    Also, there is a very valuable book on the subject titled Flexible Architecture by Robert Kronenburg which you might like to look up.

    My email-
    Please get in touch with me at the earliest.

    Comment by Aishwarya | 6 August 2011 | Reply

  20. could you pls mail me ur name and references since i am using sum of the portions from ur blog i do need to put it in my biblio and my acknowledgements…. thank u

    Comment by Gaurav Jhunjhunwala | 21 August 2011 | Reply

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  22. Hi, my name is Veronica, and I’m studying architecture in COlombia, I find your information extremely useful for an investigation I’m doing about flexibility and I would like to include your descriptions as a a reference… How do I write an appropriate bibliography to give you the right credit? (off course, I’ll only use it if you are ok with it)

    I would appreciate it a lot if you answer me as soon as possible…
    This is my email:


    Comment by Veronica Franco Londoño | 19 May 2012 | Reply

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  30. I would like to read your thesis. Send me an e-mail please. Thanx in advance!

    Comment by purplearchitecture | 16 January 2013 | Reply

  31. hi, i m hiren,i m study in architecture in India. i just find how to flexibility of building and identity of building for my housing studio, i found your blog. and i intresting in deeply going in your thesis.. so please send ur thesis or disucus with me when u r free.

    my e-mail id is

    Comment by hiren | 28 January 2013 | Reply

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  35. i really loved your flexibility concept from your thesis….please if possible you could send me the final thesis ( i go through it as i love things to do with flexible architecture and your insight might provide a better platform for the same

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  38. Hello dear friend. I am M.A student of Architecture and i work on adaptable and flexible architecture. i would be so much thankful if you send your thesis to me.

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