The title of the convention greatly resonates with my research interests: Resilient built environment management for life. The terms used relate well to concepts of Open Building which underpins much of my work.
- RESILIENT – a resilient built environment could be explained as being suitable for many people over many years – Open Building practitioners will refer to such environments as being “lovable”.
- BUILT ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT – relates to my interests in that I believe that the built environment needs to be designed and built in such a way as to ensure ease of management in the delivery of the project as well as post-occupancy in the maintenance and management of the buildings; I believe that using principles of “building system and building level separation” and “disentanglement of building systems and components”; this seperation between levels and components in the built environment can be further explained in that short-life building components (those that may need to be upgraded or replaced every few years) are not embedded (entangled) in long life building components (those that are relatively permanent and 10 years and above); this means that in maintenance, change in one component of a building will not lead to unnecessary destruction of intact structures/systems in the built environment.
- Finally, FOR LIFE – relates strongly to the concepts of designing and implementing buildings in such a manner as to ensure long term viability of the building stock as well as a system of balancing individual needs in the built environment with collective, community, needs.
The title of my talk was Shaping the future: Sustainable building transformation in the South African housing sector. I started by presenting some of the CSIR case studies in housing which we carried out in 2011 (I acknowledge Nosizo Sebake, Calayde Davey, Donavan Gottsmann and Pieter Herthogs who collaborated with me on some parts of this work). At the time, we developed an Adaptability Assessment Tool for housing (AAT) to allow for the ease of assessing existing builds for adaptation into residential functions as well as for designing new residential stock for maximum adaptability to ensure long term sustainability.
The environmental, social and functional impact of “change” and “adaptation” of the built environment was discussed by considering building component turn over. These concepts were discussed in terms of different levels of the built environment, from the city, neighbourhood and house levels. The concepts were also strongly linked to addressing the spatial legacy of Apartheid and how new approaches are needed to allow for mixed residential environments that allow for different people to co-exist in the same neighbourhoods which also contain a mix of functions, services, job opportunities, lifestyles and income levels.