The versatile home is a type of home which can be changed easily to fit any needs of the user. Ideally,
- Quick and easy: anything can be changed quickly and easily enough that it can be changed for testing purposes, and changed back if need be.
- Non-destructive: should require no materials to be wasted in the process.
Layout of anything and everything ideally would be able to be changed.
- Rooms: the walls in the house should be easily movable and removable to create any floorplan. Any given room should be expandable or shrinkable depending on the needs for it and adjacent rooms.
- Utilities: any sort of appliance should be placable anywhere in the house, regardless of utility needs. Electricity would be the easiest to deal with, and should be easily accessible anywhere on the floor, walls, ceiling, or outside walls. Phone and the like wouldn’t be hard either. Water and gas would pose quite a challenge, especially with water requiring sewer connections as well. But ideally you could put a toilet, shower, heater, whatever anywhere in the house, even move them around in a room, without much more consideration than moving a table.
- Outside walls: these go along with the layout, but pose far greater challenges than interior layout. Any expansion or subtraction of total area of the house would require addition or subtraction of both floor and ceiling in addition to the walls. Also, utility hookups would need to be expanded or subtracted, as would heating ducts or pipes. This type of modification would probably be left as the hardest to do. Still, changing needs deem it important for a versatile house, so it must be left with the capabilities of doing so, preferably non-destructively as well.
It would probably be easiest if every part of the house could be created and then installed and removed as easily connecting modules. Utilities would connect from one module to the next. Structural modules (structure of walls and ceilings, subfloor) would be seperate from the visible facings (wall and ceiling painting, carpet or wood on floor) of them, allowing easy change in appearance of area or the ability to change the size and shape of a room without having mismatched visible facings.
It would be good if companies produced these modules, standardized. The companies would deliver or take them back as the users added or removed them. This would eliminate much wasted materials, make the system more cost effective, and also make it much easier for the user.
With company produced modules, there would have to be industry standards so that no user would be stuck buying modules from any given company, especially with the possibility of companies going out of business. With changing technology, new versions of the modules would need to be created. This should happen at a relatively slow pace, and the new versions should be relatively backwards compatible with old versions. All modules should be designed for relatively easy upgrades to possible future versions.
The need for versatile housing is evident in the variety of ways and things people use houses for, the changing needs of a user, and the need to be able to accommodate multiple users over the lifespan of the house.
The operating systems of the user should not be dictated by the layout and setup of the house: Rather, the operations should be set up to be as efficient or comfortable (or whatever other criteria you want) as possible, then the layout and setup should be modified to best fit these needs. If a layout doesn’t fit these needs as good as it was thought, it should be modifiable to better accommodate.