ADAPTABILITYHow do you act when in a situation you don’t like or that is not good for you? Do you walk away and let everything collapse behind you? Do you let things be as they are and just cope? Or do you use your imagination to escape the situation and create new rules and conditions? Your choice now will determine what happens to you in the future. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything!

In the building industry you can see all three of these reactions. You have the most to gain from builders and buildings with adaptability. As far as Briqs is concerned we need new rules for that, because new rules are the best guarantee that you will get what you need; now and in the future. Adaptability is the new strategy. Would you like to know what that will bring you, read on…

Adaptability really is the key to future success. This applies to every aspect of life, both personally and professionally. I am currently reading the book Adaptability by Max Mckeown. A 46-year-old English writer, consultant and researcher specializing in innovation strategy, leadership and culture. His work helps me to look at what is (not) happening in the building world from a distance and see what is necessary.

Four levels of adaptability

Evolution, it has been argued, does not care what you think. It cares about what we do. Evolution selects based on actions. The same can be said of temporary behavioural adaptation. The success of any particular adaptation is judged by its effectiveness at achieving outcomes in a way that the person, or group, thinks is desirable. It is not enough to think.

If there is a time adaptability is essential it is in times op crises. The economic crisis has resulted in different reactions in the building industry. I will relate them here to the four levels of adaptability described by McKeown:

Level 1: Collapsing

Collapsing means the end of a social group. The group no longer functions. The group is not in a position to face up to the changing situation.

Translated to building: Stop building. The number of projects which has been shut down or was cancelled in recent years in the Netherlands is impressive. Instead of the usual 60,000 houses we built only 20,000 per year. Many developers, architects and contractors have not survived. In addition, many land prices that were fixed before the crisis are totally unrealistic looking to the future. Municipalities, for example, have suffered or will suffer great losses in land revenues.

Level 2: Survival

Survival is usually better than collapse because the group continues to exist. The problem is that the situation is not really desirable, or can even be miserable. The group still has resources, is still functioning as a group in various forms, but people are not satisfied. There is no room voor growth or development.

Translated to building: pursue the old way. After waiting a few years the same parties revived old habits when the market slightly improved. Investors in rental buildings stubbornly stick to the idea that they do not benefit from differences between homes. Because it would affect the ease of management and maintenance. They do not believe residents who want to take full responsibility for their own fit-out. They assume more hours of monitoring are necessary. The investor sees this as a potential waste of money.

Level 3: Flourishing

Flourishing is better than coping because the group, or most of its members, enjoy success in the current situation. The reward for the daily effort is worth it and there are more winners than losers.

Translated to building: Self Building as sponsor, figuring everything out yourself at your own risk. The number of projects built under (Collective) Private Commissioning is still growing. This one-on-one approach ensures high costs, risks you cannot oversee and possible misuse of you because you are not a professional. You as a client and the contractor work together on a unique new project. You have no means of understanding everything. Why would you want to be responsible for everything, then?

Level 4: Transcending

Transcending gives people the opportunity to escape the limitations of the existing situation and to rise above it. Their effort creates a new situation and a new game with new rules and a better outcome in the long term.

Translated to building: Self Open Building: professionals build the building (the base building) and you order your fit-out. Preferably from a supplier that can show you in a show room what he will deliver to you. You walk through the complete fit-out first, before you buy. That will only work well when we approach building as a system and not as unique and separate projects. Why that is so much better for you I have describe in another blog. In The Hague 50% of the construction volume is realized with Self Building. In Amsterdam it is now true that Self Building must be offered in competition with other self builders, developers and corporations to the municipality. The highest yield is often decisive for the contract awarding as a result of which many self builders do not get inning. Developers and corporations can also provide an empty base building, then you can arrange for the fit-out yourself! As happened with the Solids in Amsterdam, but much beter examples you can find in Finland and Japan.

Open Building as part of the future

With Open Building we transcend current rules which determine that a developer is responsible for both the base building and the fit-out. Your bathroom, kitchen, layout and personal installations for light, air and electricity are a burden to him and a pleasure to you. At least if you can make your own choices and can leave the responsibility for quality to the supplier.

Time-Based Design, all for sustainability

Open Building has another big advantage now we focus more and more on circular principles in building. I mean that the materials, equipment and (building) components can be recovered and reused. The building industry still is the major consumer of materials and energy by more than 40% as all lists of raw materials and energy consumption, CO2 emissions and so on show. Adaptability is a major condition for circular building and Time-Based Design. 

It is not a coincidence that Time-Based Design was one of the three main topics at the symposium ‘Circularity in the build environment’ that TU Delft organized on July 1 2015. I hosted a workshop that day on ‘Time Base Design’ in which we have been looking at what we can learn from Finland and Japan. I wrote this blog during my last trip through Japan in search of the latest developments there. I will gladly share my findings with you as part of Cirkelstad publications.

Take the next step and share your experiences

Do you want to take a next step? Come to the FREE* Masterclass. We will work with practical tools to instantly implement the actions of my ebook in your organizational, fiscal or financial projects and organization.

Join the conversation

Do you know how to build that new way and what you need? How big is or was the adaptability of your building partners? Or where because of a lack of adaptability it did not work out well for you? Share it in the comments below.

To your health and wellbeing,

Remko Zuidema