Housing Master´s Thesis 2020

Moa Bulthuis


Due to climate change, we are facing a future where the building industry will need to change and start striving for environmental sustainability. There are many ways we as architects can design buildings for the future. However, in the context of climate change, one way is to rethink the way we design buildings that are convenient only for one particular use, ignoring the future’s changed spatial needs. How and where we live has changed a lot during the last 100 years. A well designed and built project aims to last for perhaps at least 100 years. In residential architecture, it is therefore crucial to think about the fact that we do not know how we live 100 years from now. To incorporate this uncertainty and deal with it through adaptability is a substantial part of this thesis. With this said, the challenge is not only to meet the first dweller’s requirements. The apartments we design today need to be able to adapt to future lifestyle patterns and upcoming dwellers. As architects, we need to strive for designing buildings that can host a diversity of households in the future. Buildings with long term usability that can adapt to future challenges and household needs. 


This thesis comprises the design for a new multi-family residential building on a plot in Majorna, an urban district of Gothenburg. The aim is to design a building that can adapt to future challenges and unpredictability with dwellings that can adapt to future dwelling needs, housing a wide range of household configurations and function for long term usability. The design proposal will be based on design strategies found in literature about polyvalence and multifunctionality in dwelling design. 

Research questions

In what way can design strategies of polyvalent space and multi-purpose rooms contribute to dwellings that can meet the needs for diverse household types and ways of residing?

How can design strategies of polyvalent space and multi-purpose rooms support future living patterns and change? 


The process involves three phases employing theoretical studies, figurative analysis and research by design, respectively. It has been an iterative process moving back and forth between the different phases.

Phase 1Theoretical studies

The first phase is about collecting material. It aims to gain knowledge about the notion of adaptability and design theories connected to it. Previous work done within flexibility and spatial concepts such as adaptability and polyvalence in residential architecture are being studied. 

Phase 2  Figurative analysis

The second phase is about analysis of figurative diagrams, floor plans, combined with sketch work and explorations. 

Phase 3 – Research by design 

The third and last phase is using the results from the two previous phases to develop adaptable apartments in a multi-family residential building.