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Adapt (ation): Architecture, Contingency and the City

Part 2 Project 2013
Thomas Armistead
Robert Gordon University, UK
This thesis makes the argument that contemporary architecture must embrace adaptability as a paradigm to enable sustainability in the truest sense; viewing architectures role within the city as no longer simply to provide a programme of defined uses, but to respond to the everyday and the contingencies it creates. This acceptance of contingency, and to the limited role that a building can occupy within the city are where differences can be seen from the modernist paradigm; In which the contingent has long been rejected in favour of the prescribed. Fundamentally, the project is centred around time; what effect the passing of time has on the city, in turn the street and the individual buildings within the street, but also how a these entities that create the built city can cope with the perpetual changing of time. These are only single parts of the complex system that makes up the city and are effected by the city in terms of architectural, social, and economical pressures. Therefore, one single building can only ever act as a catalyst to a deeper appreciation, effecting the way we treat the production of buildings. It is by placing the theoretical paradigm of adaptability in a direct relationship with contingencies of the modern city that allow a detailed investigation of the position presented. The project sets itself as an antithesis to the seemingly ritualised notion of ‘form follows function’ by establishing that in-order to suitably serve the city a building must be able to suit any function, leading to a notion of design without function. Giving rise to the current throwaway nature of the built environment; as one building becomes unusable after a 40 or 50 year life span, it is knocked down and replaced by another seemingly function driven building. This method of maintaining our built environment is showing itself to be unsustainable environmentally but also unsustainable for the city and its inhabitants. This project presents a viable alternative, in which a buildings life span is anticipated to be 100 -150 years; Where structure is not designed around function but adaptability, through a hierarchy of permanent and adaptable elements.
Thomas Armistead

Mr Gokay Deveci
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