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6 February 2018 Comments (0) Architecture

Adaptable housing, a model for the future?

Housing that adapts to the occupants’ age, is that a real thing? It is called adaptable housing, where everything is scalable, right from the construction of the house. The very first results have started to appear in Wallonia.

When people buy a house, very few think about its evolution right from the outset. Yet, unexpected events such as blended families or changes due to ageing may well occur and make a house much less habitable. For some, it even becomes impossible to stay in their homes, for instance because they need a wheelchair. To overcome these worries, architects and industrialists have invented a new concept: “adaptable housing”.

The idea? Build responsible houses that adapt to the needs of their residents and their lifecycle. To do this, it must be possible to transform a house at low cost, thanks to scalable planning and the use of materials and equipment that makes this metamorphosis possible. And all this, without touching the load-bearing structure or the technical networks (water, heating, electricity) to avoid a complete renovation, which leads to stress, rubble and expenses.

In Wallonia, the very first initiatives have just been developed. Twelve apartments of this type have been built in Montignies-sur-Sambre. Six have been recently inaugurated in Mons and another six should follow. In Namur, 18 licences have been granted. Their originality? These apartments offer, for example, partitions without cabling or piping that can be easily removed to enlarge a passageway or a room, larger door lintels at the base that can remain in case the doors need to be widened, bathrooms that turn into showers in an instant…

A tablet to control your house

The examples are legion. In the most successful projects, modular houses welcome a whole set of home automation innovations: connected shutters, movable partitions, adjustable and multifunctional furniture… You can adjust the height of tables and chairs or turn a shelf unit into the back of a chair. The whole thing, controlled by a digital tablet. The tablet can also be used in the kitchen to adjust the work plan, equipped with cylinders, to the desired height. The concept can also be used outside with the possibility of adding additional modules to the existing volume.

A model for the future? For several years, a Walloon decree has determined the criteria for adaptable housing as well as the quotas for public housing. In the long term, this concept could have a dynamic identical to that of the EPB (energy performance of buildings) and become a new reference for future buyers.

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