The ‘Future-proof design’ principle means that the design can easily be adapted to different conditions. This includes both other physical conditions (such as climatic conditions) as well as people’s differing needs and preferences. Creating future added value becomes easier and cheaper if the design is flexible.
In designing future-proof, Witteveen+Bos anticipates coming developments and uncertainties. We take long-term scenarios and developments into account and, alongside our clients, consider whether imminent changes and developments could play a role in the design. These are physical changes, such as climate change resulting in heat, drought, intense precipitation and sea level rises or subsidence. Social changes may also arise from changes to policy and standards, and trends such as increased use of e-bikes, as well as new scientific insights and technical developments, such as self-driving cars. This ensures that Witteveen+Bos designs retain their functionality and value in various future scenarios throughout their lifespan.
Three perspectives on Future-proof design
Robustness, adaptability and resilience are three perspectives for a future-proof design. A robust design means no changes are needed throughout an object’s lifespan. This applies, for instance, to a water barrier that is reinforced to last 50 years, or a high-voltage cable with more capacity that takes the energy transition into account. A customisable design will last for part of the lifespan and can easily be modified if circumstances change. This applies, for instance, where software or installations play a major role, such as in motion structures and/or infrastructure operating systems. Finally, a resilient design relies not on the strength of an object, but on the resilience of the system in which the object is located. This means not always seeking physical solutions, but, for example, taking out flood insurance, purchasing stock or investing in rescue and reconstruction plans rather than prevention plans. The Share My City solution for water storage in private grounds is another good example of resilience.