Open Building is the most compelling framework for envisioning building construction that I have come across. Ideas that were originally formulated by the Dutch architect John Habraken have been further developed by others, including Stewart Brand in the book How Buildings Learn, and Tedd Benson and his team at Bensonwood Homes. Back in 2006 while working at Bensonwood, I wrote an article about Open Building for Fine Homebuilding Magazine.
One of the essential tenets of Open Building is that buildings should be flexible and adaptable, because their functions change over time, as do the environmental conditions in which they exist. Buildings are seen as being made up of layers that have distinct lifespans and differing needs for access and modification. For example, the structure of a building should be long-lasting and well-protected, and not entangled with layers such as the mechanical and electrical systems that require more frequent access, or the insulating skin that should be continuous.
Traveling around Berlin, I have been thinking about Open Building in the context of underground construction. Continue reading