Housing typology: adaptables

Learn about adaptable housing and its roles.

Two homes look over a village green on an overcast day. People are milling about the edge of the green and an older person in the foreground is sitting down reading.
Published: 21/01/2017

Through built examples, this piece explores housing with more than one face.

With current policy seeking adaptability in the design of new housing we look at examples allowing potential for the home to accommodate change and different uses in a number of ways.

Illustrated by mapping, photography and scale drawings, our aim is to show the link between design of the house and the place of which it forms a part. 

The case study:

  • defines adaptable housing
  • looks at the roles of topographic and climatic responses
  • explores three built examples in Inverness

Case study: housing typology – adaptables

Read the full case study to learn more about the typology, including its roles and several built examples.

What is adaptable housing?

Adaptable housing can provide longer-term value and mixed use neighbourhoods, allowing for lifestyle changes, more sustainable working patterns, and less reliance on the car.

Roles of adaptable housing

The success of this form can be attributed to some of the useful roles it plays. For example, adaptable housing:

  • stimulates small business, local enterprise and home working
  • brings daytime activity to local streets
  • allows communities to flourish in situ
A street view of a white house with a grey roof on a partly cloudy day. Someone is walking down the street past the house.

Balvonie Street, Inverness

A house specifically designed to allow adaptation to the changing circumstances and needs of families over time, working with the life cycle of a family. The annexe, which adjoins the house, can be adapted for use as a granny flat, a student bedsit, or to provide additional bedrooms for a growing family. Alternatively, the annexe can work as a home office, allowing separation between home life and work.

Image credit: AREA

Header image credit: AREA

Explore more housing typologies

Our housing typology series illustrates where designers have sought to reconcile contemporary living with the wider roles of the individual house integral to placemaking. Through built examples, from East Ayrshire to the Shetland Islands, we explore the terrace, topographic and climate responses, adaptables, and more.

Read more