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An areal openness model (AOM) for quantifying the “openness” of floor plans

Zoraya Roldán Rockow (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University College of Engineering and Sciences, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)
Brandon E. Ross (Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University College of Engineering and Sciences, Clemson, South Carolina, USA)

International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation

ISSN: 2398-4708

Article publication date: 27 July 2020

Issue publication date: 18 May 2021




This paper aims to describe and demonstrate a quantitative areal openness model (AOM) for measuring the openness of floor plans. Creation of the model was motivated by the widely reported but rarely quantified link between openness and adaptability.


The model calculates values for three indicators: openness score (OS), weighted OS (WOS) and openness potential (OP). OS measures the absence of obstructions (walls, chases, columns) that separate areas in a floor plan. WOS measures the number of obstructions while also accounting for the difficulty of removing them. OP measures the potential of a floor plan to become more open. Indicators were calculated for three demolished case study buildings and for three adapted buildings. The case study buildings were selected because openness – or lack thereof – contributed to the owners' decisions to demolish or adapt.


Openness indicators were consistent with the real-world outcomes (adaptation or demolition) of the case study buildings. This encouraging result suggests that the proposed model is a reasonable approach for comparing the openness of floor plans and evaluating them for possible adaptation or demolition.


The AOM is presented as a tool for facility managers to evaluate inventories of existing buildings, designers to compare alternative plan layouts and researchers to measure openness of case studies. It is intended to be sufficiently complex as to produce meaningful results, relatively simple to apply and readily modifiable to suit different situations. The model is the first to calculate floor plan openness within the context of adaptability.



The work presented in this paper was funded by the US National Science Foundation under grant CMMI #1553565. Many individuals assisted in the work. The facility management groups at Clemson University and Western Carolina University shared building plans and time in support of the research. Anna Kate Becker assisted in beta testing early versions of the model and in creating the spreadsheet used for the calculations. Makenzie Wilson assisted in the calculations. Delaney McFarland created figures and served as a preliminary editor for the paper. Finally, comments and critiques from the peer reviewers are gratefully acknowledged. Their efforts significantly improved the paper.


Rockow, Z.R. and Ross, B.E. (2021), "An areal openness model (AOM) for quantifying the “openness” of floor plans", International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, Vol. 39 No. 3, pp. 470-489.



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