In 2019, together with a group of Dutch architects, we have initiated the knowledge and network platform ‘Open Building’ devoted to collectively transform the building industry and the built environment by confronting the twin challenge of environmental and socio-political crisis with a series of conceptual, architectural, and technical measures.
The notion of ‘Open Building’ revisits, updates, and extends a particular legacy from the 1960’s that has advocated participatory forms of development and adaptable ways construction, such as the work by John Habraken (‘open building’) in architecture and by Umberto Eco (‘open work’) in esthetics.
Open Building has formulated the following guiding principles:
Open Buildings are a much needed concept to lower drastically the significant ecological footprint for which the global building industry is responsible; in particular to reduce its production of waste and CO2–emissions by engaging in circular economies. At the same time, Open Buildings support the transition from the consumer society to one based on participation, involvement and inclusion.
Open Buildings are buildings open for appropriation and co-creation. They form the “infrastructure” for home-owners and users to inhabit and co-produce their environment. They offer possibilities for new real estate development models and forms of co-ownership and co-making. They involve future users and residents in the early stages of a project, foster a strong sense of ownership and belonging and are powerful tools in community development. Open Building is a process open for ideas, for interpretation, for participation.
Open Buildings are buildings open for change. They are designed to adapt to many ways of use for the purpose of extending their lifespan. They combine a robust and resilient structural framework (“carrier” or “support”) with circular (renewable or recycled) infill systems that are designed for disassembly, such as facades, interior walls, fixed furniture and technical facilities. With the concept of Open Building, the environmental costs of maintenance, renovation and even transformation – during the total lifespan of the building – are significantly reduced.
Open buildings make Open cities. The principles of Open Building form a resilient and flexible building model for real estate that help creating an open and diverse city that is adaptable to social tendencies and climate change. Open Buildings accommodate the social, economic and technological complexity of our time and the future, add value and are timeless.