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This project began with an examination of housing design, finding that our building methods and practices do not meet the current and changing needs of its inhabitants - and a call for a new approach, an adaptable, plastic approach, to space that would allow buildings to fulfill the needs of the user over their lifetime and into the future. The research completed, however, revealed a more systemic problem with the way that we build that, while easily highlighted by, goes beyond residential architecture. We construct our built environment with the intent of permanence. These structures are static and stoic, parts assembled into an unchangeable whole. In doing so, we forget to account for the fluidity of the future, for human nature. In the U.S., the average age of a building is 37 years - and this is up from a prolonged average age of 31 years due to the ebb in construction activity stemming from the 2008 recession (Survey of Lives of N. American Buildings). The average lifespan of human increasing due to advances in/better access to health care, etc.: and the trajectory continues to get steeper. upwards trajectory. The lifespan of a building, however, is on a reverse trajectory. Building science has advanced tremendously in the last two decades. Materials are more weather resistant, last long, and can result in healthier (and in some cases) and more structurally sound homes. Construction methods have also improved dramatically. We build with permanence in mind. The average home can stand structurally sound for 75-100 years - and with proper maintenance and care, even poorly constructed tract homes could be expected to last for 200 years. (National Asso. Of Homebuilders Study) In North America, however, 59% of buildings are demolished before they reach a life of 50 years - and 12% of them never see a 25-year life. While a small percentage of these demolished buildings is due to structural failure, the vast majority are sound and inhabitable at their time of demolition (Survey of Lives of N. American Buildings). Because we design our structures to meet our immediate needs and construct our built environment using static, unadaptable methods, we fail to account for the changing tastes and needs of the not-so-distant future. Our buildings, and in particular our housing, are demolished due to changing expectations of what is acceptable in space and amenities rather than lifespan of the materials making up the home's primary construction.

Publisher Location

Las Vegas (Nev.)

Publication Date



University of Nevada, Las Vegas




sustainable construction; flexible architecture; cyclical material use; integrated material assemblies;


Construction Engineering

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13100 KB


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Construction Reconstructed: a prototype for adaptable, reusable, and recoverable building assemblies