In order to implement Open Building as a design strategy some fundamentals need to be understood. A series of two hour lectures are offered here as an introduction to the fundamentals, illustrated by projects to hit the ground running!


1. Intro Open Building Design


2. Urban Tissues


3. Supports


4. Infill


The following lectures present two new propositions of Open Building Design.


5. Transformations of Slums into Urban Districts


6. Linear Cities






1. Introduction to Open Building Design  


A good theory is most practical! On the basis of executed projects this lecture offers an overview of the principles of Open Building Design. It discusses the distinction of levels of intervention in the built environment: Urban Tissues, Supports and Infills.  It names on each of the levels the kind of components, the domains, the designers, the deciders and the scale of documents. It shows the difference compared to the conventional way of designing and the advantages in economy, timespan and satisfation.


Urban issue design differ from conventional zoning, as they are based on interwoven public space patterns and built volumes potentially with a large variety of architectural expressions.

This lecture explores the design of architect free urban tissues. The audience examens guiding questions in related case studies, such as:

• How to employ urban tissue components, for example built and open spaces, thematic and non-thematic areas and their relationships to improve human experiences? 
• How to align design and decision processes across stakeholders, for example by defining buildings so that they determine the freedom of developers and their architects?

• How to optimize programming, costs, financing, regulations and control? 


Supports are not just carcasses or skeletons, but base-buildings that can be subdivided into different domains such as private units only limited by its capacity. This lecture explores how to define the options of end-users, owners as well as tenants now and in the  future; participants examine questions based on experienced projects, such as:

• How to design the basic characteristics and key components of supports, accomodating different sized units.
• How to design access and circulation spaces in order to improve the human experience? 
• How to determine the balance between support and infill? Plumbing, piping and cabling are contious systems that can easely create unwanted dependencies between support and infill, if not designed from the outset.


Open Building style infills are taylor made and can change over time, thus differing from conventionally finished dwelling units, mostly being the same. 

Participants examine guiding questions such as:

• How to subdivide a given collective support structure into individual private units of various sizes and shapes in order to maximize choices and opportunities of end-users?
• How can infill systems best respond to specific given limitations and desired opportunities?
• How can layouts be made flexible, for example through mouvable inner separations, wiring, piping, ducts and canals for heating and façade systems?
• How can occupants be best supported through inspiring counseling sessions, using furniture cards, scale one to one models, 3D computer genrated drawings and interactive infill cost calculation?





2. Urban Tissues


Most people like to experience their residential district as a whole, despite of variable architecture. The harmonious wholeness of a district is mainly recognized by public outdoor spaces such as streets, squares, courtyards, canals, boulevards. Those spaces have their own degree of enclosure and character. Buildings shape spaces. Many towns show great examples of beloved spaces. However not all city extensions contain those ‘positive’ spaces: the buildings remain self-contained and fail to define urban space. 


A district is all the better recognized as a whole when specific types of open spaces and building zones repeat and intertwine in a unique way. This gives the district its character by a morphological structure in which people stay, move, meet, interact and collaborate. It sets the conditions for human behavior as well as material and equipment to make it work. These conditions  need to be assured in the design of an urban tissue and can not be left to the detail level of buildings. We have to design urban spaces to accommodate unknown buildings afterwards. Architects confirmed that it is fine to design their buildings in a given structure of outdor spaces. That is why Open Building includes a special design method for urban tissues, the SAR73.


This lecture introduces the SAR73 method. A typology of outdoor spaces and their relationships are discussed as well as ‘thematic’ and ‘non-thematic’ spaces and buildings, and then the evolution from idea to model and plan.

Participants of this lecture examine case studies of executed projects and guiding questions such as:

• What are the components of an urban tissue and how do they relate to human experiences in the long term? 
• How to discuss and decide on them by who and with whom?
• How to document an urban tissue while leaving consistent design flexibility open to architects and their clients? 
• How to program built volumes, calculate costs, design traffic routing, landscaping and infrastructure of ducts and services? How to rule the runing, maintaining and changing in the long run?


(A workshop ‘How to Design an Urban Tissue’ complements this lecture by giving hands-on exercises applied to a given site.)





3. Supports 


Dwellers love to put their marks on the dwelling they live in. Households are different, have different needs, demands, priorities and budgets. And their wishes also change over time.

In most affordable social housing however occupants have no control over the lay-out of their homes: Developers decide on a building and its dwellings.

That is why Open Building introduces 'supports' separated from 'infills', as an answer to the very desirable diversity and changeability of dwelling lay-outs, while maintaining the affordability of mass produced  building structures.


A support is a solid base-building with spaces to parcel in different sized dwellings and units with a different use: storage, shops, ateliers, restaurants or small offices. It accomodates the free lay-out of each unit and allows a re-arrangement in the future.   


Due to the separation of support and infill a support structure could last much longer - ages - than fixed residential buildings, thus reducing annual depreciation, thus cost. A well designed support structure accomodates a wide range of individual variation on the smaller scale, the infill level and could therefore be very simple in its composition. It allows a large repetition and the use of modular parts  possibly made off site of high durable quality, feeding an efficient just in time construction process. 


In the final analyses, a modular support structure, due to its built-in re-arrangeability and flexible infills, maintains as an infrastructure a long lasting contribution to a built environment, along the principles of circular economy. 


This lecture gives a short introduction to the SAR65 design method for support structures, discussed through examples of support components and patterns, thus contributing to a larger urban tissue and accomodating infills of a lower level of intervention; participants examine guiding questions and related issues, such as:

• How to design support structures that enable the desired flexibility, for unknown dwellers and their household types, the dwelling sizes, layouts and fit-outs. We learn about support types, capacities and functional dimensions, alpha- and beta-zoning and margins, sectors and fontanels.
• How to design a model and to transform it into a plan? 
• How to ensure access, safety, comfort, private outdoor spaces and neighborhood life?
• How to employ the pattern language, as tool to agree on a building structure and its influence on the occupants’ daily life? 


(A workshop ‘How to Design a Support Structure’ complements this lecture by giving hands-on exercises applied to a given site.)





4. Infill


Infill refers to the individualized lay-out and fit-out of units – dwellings, workplaces, shops or similar – designed in response to the specific needs and priorities of the users. In Open Building projects this particular infill is possible by the separation from the base building, the collective ‘support structure’ enabling flexible infill.

The Infill constitutes a specific scale of intervention: users decide upon it, based on the principle of subsidiarity. Infill design and assembling employ specific techniques. Components are flexible and of a shorter lifespan – while supports are solid and durable. The distinction of support and infill is a key idea of Open Building!


This lecture is an introduction to infill practice illustrated by executed projects. Participants examine guiding questions, such as:

• How to organize the parcellation of a support structure. 
• How to structure the private user participation? How to consult users in interior design? 
• What are appropriate tools like furniture cards, true-scale model, 3D drawings with cost and rent calculation? 
• How to ensure accesses, fire safety, heating comfort, and privacy? 
• How to coordinate the dwelling layouts, facades, piping and wiring etcetera?
• How to execute the production and assemblage of infill components in a large project? 

(In the complementary workshop ‘ infill Practice ’ we exercise infill on empty dwellings.)






5. Transformation of Slums into Urban Districts


Slums are one of the most persistent questions of megalopolises. Since 2008 for the first time in history more people live in cities than in rural areas, and one third of them, more than 1 billion dwell in slums: in poor, illegal and un-served houses. The number might double in the next 25 years.

Slum dwellers tend to live in high density. Some governments try to move them into ‘proper’ buildings: high-rises, walk-ups or prefab cottages. High-rise buildings may meet the density requirement, but typically fail to create socially and economically adequate spaces; in contrast, conventional walk ups and cottages don’t generate sufficient density so that some or all slum dwellers are shifted to other locations, disrupting their social and economic networks at their current locations.


In this context, Open Building could offer a solution, providing serviced construction sites within collective support structures in efficient and affordable ways that the user-occupants can leverage for self-managed construction. This hybrid approach, bridging the gap between formal top-down and community-drive bottom-up processes, allows harvesting the entrepreneurial and proactive approach of the informal sector within a publicly controlled formal and organized environment.


The lecture introduces the proposal for a pilot project of low-rise high-density ‘support structures’ for safe and livable communities. For example, solid three-floor support structures allow residents to develop their own homes, workplaces, small commercial and cultural activities – and can even accommodate schools, clinics or other public amenities. Roofs may be utilized for urban agriculture, solar energy and/or rainwater harvesting. Courtyards can be used for economic and social activities and/or for environmental gains, for example through grey water reuse.


The transformation of a poor housing area into this high density urban settlement will create an enabling environment that can trigger local economic development, provide a platform for social organizing and self-help, and sustain life-affirming employment opportunities for the urban poor – thereby, addressing some of the most pressing development challenges captured in the Sustainable Development Goals.






6. Linear Cities


Linear developments are not new. The existence of Langstraat, Randstad Holland or Ørestadare such examples. 

The linear city idea in our lecture consists of a chain of districts of about 50.000 inhabitants on a central spine of dense urban constructions with an open light rail public transport system with regular stops each 500 meter near housing and community equipments. The linear form of one single line serves 250.000 inhabitants and a lot of equipments along the line and as such allows efficiency, frequency and affordability. 

Perpendicular on the spine open landscapes are nearby: fields, ranches, hills, woods, ponds, canals, brooks, etcetera. Motorways in one-way traffic accompany the city on distance, with simple exits to the district spines. 


Each district has an own urban tissue and support structures with loggias, terraces and patios, related to different lifestyles of singles, couples and families. Besides shops, schools and local centers each district has also an own identity by special accommodations serving the city as a whole: a university, a main sport center,

a conference hall, a main shopping center, offices, or work- and meeting-places etcetera, wherefore people come from elsewhere. Each district is on both sides related to large ecosystems, in which food and water will be produced and extracted while sewage and organic waste are purified.

In our lecture the linear city relates old city-centers and industrial areas, but the idea can easily be extended to a wide network of city structure. 


A appropriate vision on city development is important. After all more and more people come to live in cities for work, activities, exchanges, facilities and services. This movement is essential because instead of building scattered settlements everywhere the growth of cities is needed to free more and more nature reservations in order to rebalance our natural ecosystems, that today are collapsing because flora- and fauna-species disappear rapidly. 

Linear cities allows a very high density of people and offer them at the same time and fundamental answer to two basic human questions: efficient mobility and natural relaxation. They are an alternative to the big concentric towns that suffer inefficacious public transport, traffic jams, deadly suburbs, and lack of fresh air and water.

The linear form of cities favors not only the mobility of people but also of water, energy, goods, sewage and waste: Pipes, wires and conveyor belts are linear! In our vision they are assempled underground in a technical gallery.


In conclusion: linear cities are economic and healthy for people and planet!