An Investigation Into The Adaptability Of Old Office Blocks To Changing User Needs (Case Study: Nairobi Central Business District)
This study sought to assess the adaptability of old office buildings to the changing needs of the building users. This entailed establishing the adequacy of the building design as well as facilities incorporated in the buildings to cater for the changing needs. The study relied on responses from questionnaires and interviews with architects, property managers/building owners and building users. Surveys of selected buildings were also carried out. Findings indicated that the old office blocks are less adaptable to the changing needs of their users. This is because their systems of space deployment, electric infrastructure and cable management contain little or no flexibility. They accommodated adaptation only with difficulty and at unacceptable cost. This is evident from the interviews and responses that were given by the architects, property managers, building users and the buildings’ survey. The study recommends that, for future developments, the principles of adaptability i.e. independence, upgradeability and compatibility, should be considered in the design stages of a building to avoid the high costs and inconveniences of consequent modifications. For the existing buildings, however, modifications and improvements are required. One way of promoting this is to incorporate incentives in public policies directed at sustainable urban development. If adaptability is embraced in public policy, it may be necessary to relate adaptability to basic principles of sustainable development, such as stewardship and intergenerational equity. From this perspective, the responsibility of the designer or developer is to meet the client's needs and expectations without compromising those of future building owners and users.
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