Some thoughts on the Dolls House;

-A totally flexible plan

-Infinite possibilities of layout

-No intruding elements of immovable structure

-Accessible Site

-Change is controlled by the occupants/users

-Time to play with different possibilities and learn about the best configurations

Of course, a dolls house is an abstract thing, but it points to a number of useful ideas that should drive useful commercial space in buildings.

The main appeal of the Dolls house for me is the idea of user control over interior space, something architects and designers are often reluctant to do.

In good newer commercial space, there is an increasing realisation that total flexibility is useful. Some older building shells also lend themselves to this approach.

We have to be careful here though. Often the possibilities of flexible space are never explored. Its not as easy as with the dolls house. Its costs money to play.

The real challenge perhaps is to achieve Doll house flexibility, (the right amount of useful change potential) and then mate this with an intent for users to make the space their own, like they would in their home over time.

Change will happen in a healthy way if driven by user need, not by a designers predictions. All we can do as designers is anticipate a number of different outcomes and then allow for these.

I think if you champion a degree of chance in interior design and allow for occupants to grow into their space and change it, you make better buildings.

You get closer to an ideal interior, that is different for every user, at least to some degree, and is fun to be in and contribute to the future of.

*Note – There was a queue of kids for this Dolls House. Each time they changed its configuration, searching for the ideal layout for them. None accepted what had gone before. They all wanted to participate in some way to change it. Definitely a lesson for building designers, who in my experience, almost never fully engage with the users of buildings.


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