The Future of open building resides in the existing built environment
Buildings are made for people. In the post-war period of time it was the idea of collective and stable identities of groups of people that dominated our thinking in design. The results were mono-functional and rigid buildings and areas. Nowadays this idea has been left. We realize that we have to deal with an individualized and dynamic demand, due to large demographic changes and to technological developments. This has an enormous impact on the existing built environment. Because this existing stock satisfies more than 99% of existing and new demand for all kinds of housing. Open building is based on this point of view of ever changing individual demand. Therefore the future of open building resides in the renovation and transformation of the existing built environment.
No one is more capable to speak on the real world possibilities of the Open Building approach than Frank Bijdendijk. As the long time director of one of the largest public housing corporations in the Netherlands, located in the city of Amsterdam, who has actually implemented Open Building projects, he speaks from direct experience. Early Fran Biijdendijk worked out a scheme in which renters of the subsidised housing units, owned by his corporation, could buy the fit-out of their unit and get a mortgage the rents on which would be tax deductible like with normal home owners. A first offer to the first 500 applicants to implement the scheme was fully subscribed within days. However a change in the tax code made further implementation no longer feasible: a massive political blunder that prevented the Netherlands a leading role in Open Building policy.
More recently Bijdendijk had two major Open Building project executed in Amsterdam in which space could be rented for any function of any size and the fit-out was owned by the occupant and designed and executed under his control. These buildings were designed by Baumschlager Eberle and Tony Fretton respectively. They are called “Solids” and are long term investments (up to a century or more) that can adapt to future occupancy preferences.
The present paper by Bijdendijk the title of which clearly reflects the contents argument, summarises also the technical, economical, juridical and political changes needed for a full scale conversion of the residential building stock which, by itself, is worth careful reading.