What is D3?

" D3 is a proposed analytical design system to address some of the shortcomings in the current housing development, taking into account the beginning of the design process for the dwelling unit, the construction process, and the flexibility in future development. "

The convergent design system is a “one fits all” design initiative, where every new development of design is a reprint of blueprints from the existing design. It implies to extreme compartmentalization and dissociation of internal elements, where service spaces such as kitchen, bathroom, etc. are built internally by interlocking with space, making the said service spaces difficult to interchange. While it offers a reasonable alternative of housing needs for the general population, the provided living environment is certainly not everyone aspired, due to its top-to-bottom nature that allows no rooms for the end-users to accommodate their specific needs. As a result, modifications of housing unit are made to match the occupants’ lifestyle, as well as to reduce ‘housing stresses’ that may decrease the occupants’ activity performance. In a wider context, the current mass housing design initiative is said to be considering more on the physical development of housing rather than on the sustainable inhabitation.

Typical layout for convergent design system

The divergent design system, on the other hand, is an inherent design strategy of sustainable development that fully utilized the idea of flexibility. It is inspired by the Molecular Evolution Principle, where atoms combine divergently to form molecules in nature and at each level of molecular organization has emergent function.

Molecular evolution principle

The principle of molecularization helps to reduce the immense intricacy of architectural phenomenon in simple constant units whose combination effectively brings about formation of a larger whole. The key issue to be addressed here is how architectural design can accommodate freedom for change of preference even after the structure is built. This would be no different than the freedom enjoyed by atoms of nature where an atom grafted on another can remove itself to take up a different configuration altogether. By having the same models, same structures, and same constructions, it can produce millions of combinations, each of which is an example of a high level of form and function in architecture.

Nature as model and guide for the divergent design system

In layman terms, D3 is an architecture where service spaces are attached externally to form dwelling of which the service spaces can be changed to accommodate different functions with minimum or no disturbance to the core structure (COR). The concept is similar to the other existing facilities in modern industry (automotive innovations, electrical appliances, furniture, etc.), where each individual functional unit is freely bonded with the COR to serve different occupants’ requirement.

The concept of D3 system

The COR, as a module, is the most important aspect in divergent design system as it houses every independent functional unit of the dwelling and also forms the space for further expansion. The sustainability initiative here focuses on providing spaces to be used for a variety of purposes over time to suite the changing circumstances and necessity, be it the changes of household demography or the changes of resident’s living satisfaction. Since this kind of functional change can be done by merely switching of the independent units within the configuration through a simple process, the function of the dwelling unit does not need to be determined in advance. It can be cultivated and adapted to the occupant’s need whenever it is required.

For example, a residential space can be converted into a café by just incorporating a larger kitchen and more toilets; a laboratory or playroom or computer room when added with a unit space for teaching can be used as an educational institution. So similarly the kind of unit space or constant space can change its function from residential to commercial, without ever needing to change the basic unit. Moreover, with its ability to have component areas substituted, there is also greater flexibility to have new technological devices and equipment introduced.

Another feature of D3 is that the system amply utilizes industrialization in the formation of a unit. Due to its standardized nature, the unit constant allows for mass machine production. For example, bathroom and kitchen dimensions are fixed for mass production. The occupant has wide spectrum of choice with regards to products in the market. Since each unit is independently constructed by machine production, the development entails the use of technology and innovation, without the involvement of excessive site labour, time, and cost. In this sense, divergent design concept comprehends the advances of science and technology over time, thereby resulting in faster production at economical rates.

More crucially, it helps to boost a greater productivity, better quality, and an assurance of a growing and interested housing market in the 21st century. Once the design system is in tandem with serial production and standardization, there will be no bounds for the development of sustainable housing. It is because every detail can be perfected – just like the automobile and telecommunications industry, has seen continued advancement in technological innovations that have benefited consumers in the long run.

The formation of dwelling unit with D3 system

All the mentioned features are found deficient by using the currently adopted convergent design system. D3 system makes possible the creation of dwellings which may grow old yet without becoming obsolete; incorporating the latest design ideas and technologies, yet have a sense of history on the Malaysian housing design (the rumah kampung design); allowing the communities to live for generations, yet incorporating the potential of adaptation. A brief comparison between the currently applied convergent design system and the suggested divergent design system is given in table below.

Differences between convergent and divergent design system:

  • Convergent housing process. Components enclosed within.
  • Each unit is interdependent on others, because of sharing of wall and floor and common physical barriers. Way of stacking is repetitive horizontally and vertically. Very few can provide varieties of architectural design layout.
  • Divergent housing process. Attached externally. Each unit is independent of the other. Can change of renew units without much disturbance or interference with others.
  • Open-plan. Occupants can redesign freely and incorporate whatever changes they want to suit own personal tastes and styles, by switching or rearranging the components.
  • 2.
    • Inflexibility. Very difficult to modify and change. Bathrooms, kitchen, living rooms, etc interlocked.
  • Allows flexibility. With changes possible for switching of toilets, kitchen, wash areas and living areas, as well as introduction of new functions in existing spaces. Can switching of component spaces possible
  • 3
  • Does not solve problem at large. Every dwelling is slightly different, and convergent process – inhibits machine production. Mass production can only be achieved in part prefabrication, which does not solve housing construction to larger extent. Any new products developed in the market by advancement of science and technology are difficult to be incorporated into mass housing due to convergent, interlocking elements of whole.
  • Developer can only wait for new schemes to incorporate their ideas, deterring them from progressing with their ideas further.
  • Allows for machine production. Standardized – there is a unit constant allows for machine production and industrialization. For example, bathroom and kitchen dimensions are fixed for mass production, though internal fittings and appliances may vary from one unit to the other. The occupant has wide spectrum of choice with regards to products in the market. Hence the architecture can comprehend the advances of science and technology over time. Resulting in faster production at economical rates – applying little to get more result.
  • The manufacturing of the unit does not involve excessive site labour. Installation is also done with less time and cost. The period product development to manufacturing to marketing is relatively short.
  • 4
  • The circulation system – comprising paths to ascend and descend a structure, as well as to travel along a horizontal plane within the structure – are largely fixed.
  • Even external access such as roads along the periphery of the structure are fixed. Any changes of paths would entail not an ejection of the path, but a destruction resulting in abortive work and disturbance to the community.
  • The paths are largely convergent and rigid. It is difficult to fit or introduce new paths into the circulation system of the overall structure.
  • Creation of instant pathway that can change, revised, expanded with least disturbance to other unit occupants.
  • Incorporation of vertical circulation with lifts and escalators as external divergent components to contribute to a complete network of 3-dimensioanl circulation.
  • This has increased efficiency by manifold compared to two-dimensional suburban sprawl. So molecular dwelling incorporates planning and architecture into a single entity.
  • 5
  • The structure is usually built with one particular land-use in mind. So any move to change the land-use would entail either massive renovation for a complete overhaul, or a total bringing down of the structure to be replaced by a newer one.
  • Facilitates and allows complete and overall change of structural use for very different sector, with simple replacements of moveable parts. A residential unit can be changed to commercial, and a commercial to recreational. For example, by incorporating kitchen and toilet, a residential space can be converted to a café.
  • 6
  • Since every structure has no connection with the surrounding, this results in each structure becoming an isolated island by itself.
  • This discourages any creation of bigger physical community as any interaction between structures. Any attempt to join up different structures would likely result physical disharmony and disproportion. Inefficient execution of planning can hence result in slum areas and waste in spaces available.
  • Put together, molecular units can become parts of a greater molecular community and even molecular township.
  • One does not have to determine in advance the overall makeup of the group of units, for the whole community may just be cultivated or generated in a naturally evolving manner. This programmable dwelling pattern will enable a variety of dwellings to be processed, to constantly renew themselves owing to industrialization and with rational rearrangement of all available habitual spaces and incorporation of machine production resulting in the community that has no slum, and where no redevelopment is necessary. No part of it need ever be obsolete.
  • 7
  • The process of mass housing discourages the incorporation of science, technology and industrialization, as the structure is largely fixed with its predetermined fittings.
  • With its ability to have component areas substituted, there is also greater flexibility to have new technological devices and equipment introduced. It is also easier to modify each existing component space, to make it adaptable to a newer function, and open to new amenities.
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