Transforming the Future: Modular Living and Carbon Neutrality in Housing

A Revolutionary Evolving Building in Tours

In response to the housing crisis and the pursuit of carbon neutrality, an innovative evolving building has been developed in Tours, France. With a design that accommodates changing needs of residents throughout their lives, this unique building might just be the future of sustainable urban living. Florent Lemaire, executive director of Arkéa Flex, a subsidiary of Crédit Mutuel Arkéa, asserts that this groundbreaking concept is the first of its kind in French housing.

Adaptable Interior Spaces: The Invisible Core of Evolutionary Buildings

The adaptable interiors of these evolutionary buildings are created through large floor spans, elimination of interior load-bearing walls, and acoustic partitions as well as technical floors for housing water, electricity, and other utilities. This flexible design allows residents to modify their living spaces to suit personal requirements, such as adding a bedroom when they expand their family or dividing their apartment into smaller units when required. Interior spaces can easily be converted; for example, transforming a kitchen into a bathroom, or even creating an independent studio out of a bedroom.

The ‘Lego-Style’ Construction Process

Experts have designed a novel “Lego-style” construction method which enables apartments to be combined or divided with relative ease. Door locations and stairwell openings are strategically placed to allow for this flexibility, while portions of rooftop terraces can also be exchanged between property owners in the building. To ensure affordability and scalability, the additional investment for such adaptability remains relatively low at €25 per square meter compared to traditional options like renovations, which cost around €100 per square meter.

Flexible Living Meets Sustainability: A Winning Formula

  • Social Adaptability: With the ongoing housing crisis and changing family structures, flexible living spaces have become increasingly desirable. Sociologist Yankel Fijalkow explains that people are now seeking homes that can adapt to their evolving needs rather than having to move to a different property altogether.
  • Environmental Benefits: In addition to addressing social demands, creating adaptable living spaces also contributes towards reducing environmental impact. By designing evolutionary buildings from the ground up, future transformation costs are minimized in terms of both finances and ecological footprint. This approach helps prevent demolition and subsequent waste production, which contributes to the construction industry’s high carbon footprint, accounting for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Covid-19: A Trigger for Flexible Housing Demand

The Covid-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need for versatile living arrangements. With an increased focus on remote work and time spent at home, many people have sought ways to reorganize their living spaces to accommodate their new lifestyles. Architect Sabri Bendimérad notes that while the concept of flexible housing has existed before, it had fallen out of the limelight until the present situation revived its relevance.

Pioneers in Reversible Architecture

Leading developers and architects have already started incorporating reversible architecture into their designs to allow for seamless changes in building usage. For instance, OGIC has successfully converted prisons, hospitals, and even water towers into offices, shops, and homes. These innovative projects showcase how adaptable spaces can accommodate various needs while fulfilling sustainability goals.

A Bright Future for Modular Living

Director of Qualitel, Antoine Desbarrières, supports the modular living movement as he believes it satisfies both social aspirations and low-carbon construction requirements. While there may be some technical challenges to overcome (such as acoustic comfort when redesigning bathrooms or bedrooms), the potential rewards offered by combining housing adaptability with sustainable construction make it an enticing prospect for the future of urban living.

Embracing Change: Flexible Living for a Sustainable World

Faced with a rapidly changing world, flexible living spaces present an environmentally responsible answer to evolving social needs and preferences. By embracing this innovative architectural approach, we can pave the way towards creating sustainable housing solutions that cater to the unique demands of various lifestyles while also reducing our impact on the planet. The evolutionary building in Tours serves as a shining example of how modular living can redefine the way we view urban residences, providing inspiration for a greener and more adaptable future.