Explore Lab 15

I Am My Home

I Am My Home

Marjolein Overtoom

Designing homes with meanings:
Construction of a tool based on human values

Houses were among the first structures that were built, and remain the most common type of building today. The design of housing has been the subject of architecture, while from a
psychological point of view the meaning of home has been a major subject of research. These two different viewpoints are combined in this research to provide a tool for designers to design based on values. First a quantitative study was carried out to match activities and spaces in the home to human values (Schwartz, 2000).

The features of spaces around us and how we orient ourselves in space is related to the human body (Tuan, 1977). For example space in front or upwards is seen as future and
illuminating, while the experience of spaciousness is related to freedom. Consequently, space that is behind is seen as the past, or dark; something more important or superior is elevated and faced towards you. Depending on the culture either left or right is seen as more pure, while the other side is seen as dirty. The meanings attributed to attics and basements (Korosec-Serfaty, 1984) also distinguishes the two by describing them as opposites; the attic and cellar as hidden opposed to the living space as visible and ‘high’-status; and the cellar is dark and enclosed, and once appropriated, not dirty any more. Also when the attic and cellar are full of things, they give security or affluence, knowing there is enough food or seeing all the things someone owns. Another way in which people distinguish features of space is by spatial styles (Beck, 1970). There are five spatial styles that people use to differentiate between elements in the environment (without attaching any meanings to them). These are diffuse space vs. dense space, delineated vs. open space, verticality vs. horizontality, right and left in the horizontal plane, and up and down in de vertical plane. As such, orientations in space do seem to have meanings in the same way as values; as two opposites on the same line. However, which values relate to which activities, which spaces, and which spatial oppositions is not known. This research is a first attempt towards building a design-tool based on human values.

This resulted in a design-tool that consists of the ten values (hedonism, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, conformity, tradition, power, and achievement) associated activities and spaces, and hierarchical graphs based on space syntax. Lastly opposing spatial features were laid over the two dimensions (openness to change vs. conservation and self-transcendence vs. self-enhancement). Subsequently this tool was used to design seven houses which were used to find out whether the values designed in the houses were also recognised as such. Houses with values preferred by the interviewees, were chosen more often than values on the other end of the circle, indicating that the tool is of some help when certain meanings need to be communicated by design.

Permanent Temporality

Permanent Temporality

Tim Hilhorst

Office vacancy is an ordinary matter. Just after completion, at the turn of tenants or around a relocation vacancy is inescapable. A healthy vacancy should fluctuates around 4 to 8 percent (Benraad, 2012). However, office vacancy has increased tremendously over the past years. Optimists say the office market will pick up its pace once again, increasingly more others are less optimistic. Even if the market will resurrect still a large portion of the current stock will remain vacant. If you have the total amount of vacant square meters and divide that by the average of 15 m2 for an employee in an office, you would have over half a million workstations available. That’s not even the amount of job-seekers, let alone that people want to be flexible workers. Too much vacancy can lead to degradation and a bad business climate. Many (PhD-)students, (local) government(s), municipalities and companies are dealing with office vacancy. Therefore, there is already a great body of knowledge about the topic. To get a grip on the current situation of structural office vacancy, many research papers and master thesis papers have been read. This chapter aims to compile the most relevant information to structure and narrow down my field of interest more concerning the topic of office vacancy.

Problem Statement
Office vacancy is a growing problem in the Netherlands. In the first half of 2012, office vacancy continued to grow to 7,62 million square meters, 15,4% of the total office stock. Demographic trends (decrease of the workforce), changing ways of working (telecommuting), decreasing immigration and technological innovations (continued automation) may give an even bigger rise to a strong reduction in demand for office space. The situation is clear that office vacancy is an enormous challenge, and opportunity, for brokerage.

To help the research in the right direction, a research question was formulated: what standardized, sustainable dwelling system will help Dutch municipalities and brokers to revitalize vacant office buildings? The main research question has been narrowed down into several subquestions: what are the (financial) pluses and minuses associated with vacant office transformation? What is a smart target group to invest in keeping office transformation in mind? What are the criteria for a vacant office building to be transformed with the designed solution? How can such office transformation be done in a sustainable way?

The goal of this project would be to design an architectural intervention that proposes a sustainable solution to the increasing problem of structural vacancy. The proposed architectural intervention aims to be an approach that can be applied to an office building with certain standard sizes in the Netherlands. It will contribute to the demand for (sustainable) housing for students and starters, consistent with the current demand from the market.
The research will be divided in an introduction to the topic of structural office vacancy, what kind of statistics, difficulties and opportunities are associated with it. This will be researched by reading the body of information that has already dealt with this topic. My research will focus more on the architectural side of office transformation to dwellings, but this introduction will give the much needed background information.
My research will support the design solution I intend to propose. To come up with the best design requirements the research will dive into the subjects of (office) transformation, flexibility & sustainability, student housing and sales strategy. In the field of office transformation, the research will describe the pros and cons of transformation, what kind initiatives have been taken up, standardization and sustainable transformation. The target group will be analyzed for suitability for office transformation and to be able to make a user-based design, to have more chance of making a project salable. This will be researched by case studies. Furthermore, the topic of sustainability should play a important role in the final design. Making a building flexible in terms of program, adds to this issue. Therefore flexibility will be researched by literature study about i.a. adaptive construction, metabolism, Habraken and solids. This research will lead to a set of guidelines for the architectural intervention. The standardized project should be salable towards municipalities and building owners. The intention is to build a presentation website for the architectural intervention. The architectural intervention will be, by means of a case study, applied and tested to the ‘Pionier’-building in the Hague, which is nominated for transformation by the DuraVermeer Lab.
The project goal is to give a architectural solution on four levels of sustainability. Namely the reuse of structural vacant office buildings, creating a sustainable architectural interventions, involving the user in making sustainable choices and lastly inspiring the community by creating a pilot project to inspire and persuade people to act (see image below).
The method of research will come down to a literature study and case studies selected per topic. The gathered information will form a set of guidelines for the master thesis design. The literature study will gather sufficient information about (office) transformation, flexibility & sustainability, student housing and sales strategy. The next buildings are selected for the case study based on the subjects treated in the literature study and will be analyzed with the aim of extracting design guidelines for the final design.

Case study projects
Sustainable transformation projects:
– Kraaijvanger – Provinciekantoor Noord-Holland
– De Zwarte Hond – GasTerra kantoor, Groningen
Office vacancy projects:
– Mulderblauw architecten – Holiday Inn Express hotel / Papendorp, Utrecht
– Karina Benraad – Voormalig ACTA-gebouw / Amsterdam
Student housing projects:
– Vera Yanovshtchinsky Architecten B.V. – De Rotterdamseweg 139 / DUWO
– Jacoba van Beierenlaan / my former student house / Korvezee. What makes a student house ‘successful’?

Literature and general practical preference
The subjects of (office) transformation, flexibility & sustainability, student housing and sales strategy with be research by literature study. The research topics are: office transformation, standardization, sustainable transformation, student housing, flexibility, sustainability, adaptive construction, metabolism, Habraken and solids. The literature is to be found at the end of this document.

The topic of office transformation was chosen specifically for its relevance in the larger social and scientific framework. Structural office vacancy is an increasing issue, and people will look for solutions more and more. With the adjusted Bouwbesluit, transformation has been made more attractive, however, it is important not to lose sight of sustainability in this process. The research consists of both theoretical and empirical studies. The gathered information will result in a set of guidelines that will be applied in the final design during the MSc4 part of the graduation track. The result of this design is intended to be applicable to multiple locations in the Netherlands. This rapport aims to support the design phase of my graduation thesis design by means of investigating i.e. the advantages and disadvantages financially, politically and structurally. Also, the research will touch upon my fascination for personalization and entrepreneurship to support the out-coming design. Therefore, I combine a very topical subject, namely vacant offices, with another topical subject, which is sustainability. Designing a sustainable solution for office vacancy could have a great deal of value to users and developers.