Adaptable housing? A quantitative study of contemporary apartment layouts that have been rearranged by end-users
Journal article, 2020

Adaptability, that is, the capacity to accommodate future changes, is described as an intrinsic aspect of sustainable housing. Nevertheless, few studies have provided empirical evidence of what makes housing adaptable for end-users. Based on a sample of 313 modern apartments that have been rearranged by their owner-occupiers, two aspects of adaptability are subjected to a quantitative analysis based on space syntax regarding the generality or polyvalence of space and the physical factors of the floor plans that facilitate reconstructions. The results show that two form factors are linked to occupant rearrangements: the size of the living space and the fragmentation of the initial floor plan. The results spark a discussion on a lack of general use of modern apartments and the long-term sustainability of housing stocks with respect to social aspects, as well as resource use from renovation and adaptation. There is a need for the market to acknowledge residents’ motivations for rearranging their living space, which can be due to a lack of quality in the original design, limitations in choosing a suitable apartment, or as a result of changing household needs.

Space Syntax

User Behaviour

User refurbishments

Dwelling morphology


Apartment Layouts


Paula Femenias

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Design

Faustine Geromel

École polytechnique

Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

1566-4910 (ISSN) 1573-7772 (eISSN)

Vol. 35 2 481-505

Architecture, material flows and embodied energy in housing

Swedish Energy Agency (P39703-1), 2015-01-01 -- 2015-12-31.

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering


Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)



HSB living lab



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