Going home: future adaptive building for aging-in-place by John Brown

* Click on the red time-stamp to go directly to each segment in the video

00:10 The Chair (Richard Blythe) welcomes the audience and introduces the examiners: Toomas Tammis, Felicity Scott

04:00 John Brown commences his examination by giving thanks to those involved and providing an explanation of his decision to complete the PhD and a professional and personal history

10:46 Starting an architecture practice (Practice methods, Practice narrative)

11:28 Architect as real estate agent, construction company and retail store (Practice methods)

13:00 Equates the housing industry in America with the Food industry and bad housing with junk food (Practice methods)

16:16 Commencing the PhD by project; The first PRS and the drivers of the practice at the time (Practice methods)

18:51 The second PRS: direction and outcomes (Methodology)

21:38 PhD crisis: “All buildings are predictions and all predictions are wrong” Stewart Brand (Practice narrative)

23:05 Multi-functionalism (Practice narrative)

25:31 “Unlocking the plan” (Practice methods, Practice narrative)

30:15 Use of media: lifestyle photography, to JB’s company videos (Project narrative)

33:30 Mentors: (Jamie Oliver, Steve Jobs and Stewart Brand) (Methodology)

34:00 Mentors: Community of Practice

34:36 Notion of Future Adaptive Building (FAB)

35:53 “Unlocking the Façade” (Practice methods, Practice narrative)

39:04 PhD Directional trigger (Practice narrative)

47:34 Concept of a house that changes to accommodate you as you age (Practice narrative)

55:03 The ‘geography of care’ - public and private space within the elderly person's home

57:43 Conclusion

1:03:44 End of examination and applause. The Chair invites examiners’ questions

1:04:21 Felicity Scott (FS) A very long commentary (22 mins) on the dissertation interspersed with a large number of questions

1:27:40 JB’s response

1:37:58 FS: Comments on the separateness of the two sides to the practice: house flexibility and age-related crisis solutions

1:39:10 JB’s response

1:42.30 Toomas Tamis (TT): Comments on scaling, manufacturing and development

1:46:55 JB: Response

1:50:02 TT: Comments ending in a question: What could be the worst things that could happen with a FAB house?

1:57:49 TT: A question about marrying the different lifespans: of a house, and of technology

2:02:05 FS: Closing comments

2:03:00 Richard Blythe wraps up the examination, followed by applause

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Up to 95% of North American houses have not been designed by an architect. The result is what the Sierra Club calls the ‘Dark Side of the American Dream’ – a vast, formless, un-designed place where almost everyone lives. This work explores potential strategies for architects to meaningfully engage this middle ground of everyday domestic life.

The PhD frames this exploration through the creative practices of John Brown; an architect and academic in Calgary, Canada. Ambitious to make architectural intelligence available to the widest possible clientele he pursues a practice that creates a continuum between everyday living and the highest accomplishments of architecture. His PhD opens up accessibilities to the best of flexible designing to people from the young to those aging in place.

The PhD traces the development of a body of work that includes furniture and objects, innovative forms of architectural practice, advocacy, and over 250 residential projects. It builds on this critical reflection to propose a new housing option for 21st century seniors. Future Adaptive Building (FAB) is an interior system of design, construction, and inhabitation that can adapt to meet changes in lifestyle, physical health, and cognitive health. It supports the dynamic realities of long term aging-in-place across the full spectrum of housing types that includes single-family houses, townhouses, and low-rise and high-rise apartments. FAB incorporates strategies from a diverse realm of ideas about mass customization, serious leisure, and the geography of care to create an adaptive residential interior building system.

The FAB system is designed to help improve an individual’s functional, emotional, and physical resilience to the natural changes that occur with aging. FAB can be applied to both new-build and major re-build projects and is designed to readily and cost-effectively integrate into the normative processes of the residential development, design, and construction industries.

The PhD explores a temporal cross-section of the development of Future Adaptive Building, cut along a personal narrative of practice. It begins with an examination of the lessons learned from 26 years of design/build practice in residential architecture and ends with a detailed account of recent academic and practice-based work in age-in-place design. It delineates a context for ongoing design research into the role of the architect in making quotidian domestic environments.

Year: 2016
Examinators: Felicity Scott, Toomas Tammis  Supervisors:  Professor Leon van Schaik, Prof SueAnne Ware

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