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The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the topic of adaptive reuse of buildings. It will analyse how the conversion of disused buildings, particularly landmark buildings that have a distinguished form and presence in the fabric of a city, has become an important component in architecture today.
When a building designed for one purpose is later put to a different use, it ensures survival through to the next generation. In the present day, with an abundance of disused building stock, reuse of existing buildings has a major contribution in a sustainable healthy economy. Redundant buildings become the site and the material for development in an accommodation of change. This not only reduces cost and labour but also, as regards to the environment, reduces further depletion of raw materials.
Old buildings often outlive their original purposes. Although many buildings are retrofitted to bring them up to the standards of contemporary legislation and commercial practice within a building a type, the more interesting challenge is the rehabilitation of a building, thereby giving it a new function - breathing new life into a building as opposed to merely an improvement.
Adaptive reuse is a process that reworks a building by adaptation of form and fabric to accommodate a new use while retaining its inherent architectural or historic features. An old factory may become an apartment building, a rundown church may find new life as a restaurant - there can be successive but different forms of occupation in the overall life of a building.
In order to provide a patent investigation of this process, this dissertation will focus on two high profile exemplars that incorporate and embody the principles of adaptive reuse and incorporate a considerable architectural legacy and presence: The Musee d'Orsay (Pierre Colboc, Renaud Bardon, Jean-Paul Phillipon,1986), once the railway terminus Gare D'Orsay of Paris (Victor Laloux, 1900), and the Tate Modern (Jaques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, 2000), formerly Sir Gilles Gilbert Scott's Bankside power station in London. In the Musee d'Orsay and the Tate Modern, the architects were presented with a challenge to provide an innovative and imaginative interior within the inherited shell of the building.
Adaptive Reuse - working with old and new
The architectural aphorism attributed to Cedric Price "Use - disuse - reuse - abuse - refuse" about the lifecycle of buildings encompasses the theme of adaptive reuse. The reuse of buildings has become a major component of architecture. As new technology supersedes old technology, buildings will become ineffectual and abandoned, especially in building types designed exclusively for one function. Examples of this are to be found in the telecommunications industry, where the traditional telephone exchange building has become largely redundant due to digital technology and miniaturisation - British Telecom had over 7 million square meters of surplus in the 1990s. (The Department of the Environment for England and Wales, 1997) As new developments arise daily, these neglected buildings stand as metaphorical question marks.
This increase in obsolete buildings has augmented the need for the specialized skills of adaptive reuse. Technology has become more flexible and as a result it should "adapt to the building rather than vice versa." (Cunnington, Pamela, 1988) In the past, entire buildings that were no longer serviceable were ultimately demolished. This "use and discard approach justified by economics in mass - consumption societies" (Jencks, Charles, 1973) often led to the destruction of sound buildings which were replaced by a new building with contemporary materials and technology of that time. An example of this is Victor Baltard's Les Halles in Paris, which was demolished in 1971 and replaced with a shopping complex with materials that were in vogue. (Figure 1.1) As a result it looks terribly dated and fails to compliment its surroundings. Converting buildings often requires more problems solving than a new building. To successfully adapt often requires unconventional thinking and uncommon vision - it may mean looking at something very familiar and seeing it in a new and completely different way therefore originality is unavoidable.
Figure 1.1 - Shown An example of this is Victor Baltard's Les Halles in Paris, which was demolished in 1971 and replaced with a shopping complex with materials that were in vogue
The scale of the refurbishment market has been growing steadily since the 1970's. By the mid 1990's, as inner city landscape was becoming increasingly scarce, it became extremely valuable. (Kincaid, David; Nutt, Bev, and McLennan, Pete, 2001) Architects and planners started to see the potential and felt "that such substantial buildings should not be destroyed, until the case for their preservation had been fully examined." (Highfield, David, 1987) Conservationists welcomed this, however the form of survival of old buildings was not about conservation, but preservation of the buildings through "adaptive use" which would have societal benefits: abandoned buildings and vacant lots drive down property values, create a sense of economic decline. "Time makes the high building costs of one generation, the bargains of a following generation." (Cantacuzino, Sherban, 1989) It is important to consider that in the conversion of buildings, a final cost can never be forecast with accuracy due to dilapidations and the discovery of latent defects only after invasive investigation - unexpected problems are more likely to arise than with a new build. In the long term, the reuse of a building may provide financial benefit either in capital appreciation or income generation. In order to seek absolution of responsibility for repair and maintenance, many redundant buildings are often sold for a nominal sum well below market value. Legislation supports the progress of adaptive reuse by encouragement of preservation or conservation to protect or enhance buildings of architectural and historical interest under the terms of Town and Country Planning Act, 1997 However, It is important that the proposed new use of the building will remain economically viable. If this is not the case, the building may revert to another period of neglect.
It is often easier to obtain planning permission for a conversion scheme than for a new building that is reconstructed completely behind the street frontage, to avoid the "shock of the new". The Department of the Environment in England and Wales encourages building adaptation as it feels that "the demolition of these buildings would result in a significant loss to the character and history of the cities of which they are part." Ultimately, "any conversion scheme however careful is bound to involve some loss of the original character". (Highfield, David, 1987) Examples abound of hopeless property situations that have been reverted spectacularly with a combination of knowledge, creativity and experience in the field of adaptive reuse. However, it is important that the proposed new use of the building will remain economically viable. If this is not the case, the building may revert to another period of neglect.
The resources and energy that were once used to create our cities are requires more time in labour, and this means that a renovation project provides more funds to local workforces than that of a new construction project. Statistics by the Department of the Environment in England and Wales state that each year some "1.5% of the building stock in the UK is demolished, and is primarily replaced by new buildings. A further 2.5% is subject to major refurbishment and renovation, and in any one year no more than approximately 4% of the national building stock is in the process of physical change." (The Department of the Environment for England and Wales,1997) Unless building life expectancies reduce dramatically, and replacement rates increase accordingly, the changing requirements of building users must continue to be met by moving to more suitable premises - possibly through the adaptation and better management of existing building stock.
The property market is constantly evolving and changing. Periods of recession mean that demand for workspace is suppressed, rents level, property values fall, and there is a consequent increase in vacancy rates in the commercial building stock. Conversely in a boom period, demand for space exceeds supply, stock scarcity inflates rents and there is a consequent increase in property values.
Nevertheless, the general characteristics of demand for and supply of building space are well recognized. To satisfy demand an organisation may choose to purchase or rent suitable accommodation from the array of available stock; they may decide to modify, adapt or extend their existing accommodation; or they may decide to procure a new or reconditioned building. To satisfy supply, a property company may examine a range of different let table resources to a potential occupier. There will be differences in the physical resources offered, e.g. in floor area, internal spatial arrangements, services, and in the age, quality, character and condition of a building. There will also be choices in location, differences in the range of uses which any building is able to support, and in the potential for flexibility and change. It is through the matching of the resources demanded by an organisation with location presence and the facilities available supplied in a particular building that the suitability of potential premises are usually assessed:
An evaluation of the use of the existing premises, whether over - or underutilised.
An assessment of future organisational needs and demands
Actions to adjust the property portfolio and its provisions to meet the anticipated needs
A re-evaluation of the utilisation of the adjusted provision
(Kincaid, David; Nutt, Bev, and McLennan, Pete, 2001)
The impact of shifts and changes in the demand for and supply of building stock is considerable. The sustainability and even the survival of cities depend on the successful adaptation of existing buildings to new uses. Adaptive reuse is a process which requires that participants in the process have clear understanding of how to determine what future uses would be most appropriate for a specific building in a particular location and for a given period of time. The rapidly changing pattern of requirements for buildings, and the resulting imbalances in supply and demand, can only be modified in one of two ways e.g. through the adaptive reuse of vacant and under - utilised buildings, or the replacement of an increasing proportion of redundant stock, often before they reach the normal financial and physical life expectancy. Where a building has been vacant or under utilised for a considerable period of time, six basic options are available:
Market: undertaking no physical improvements, refurbishments or adaptations, but introducing or intensifying financial inducements or incentives to encourage potential occupiers to purchase or rent the building.
Leave Vacant: deciding to "mothball" the building in a vacant state until market opportunities improve, perhaps stripping out and maintaining the building shell only to prepare the property for its rehabilitation in due course.
Refurbish: renewing and upgrading the building under its current use class to contemporary standards, improving its marketability for sale or rent.
Modify use: refurbishing and adapting the building to accommodate changing requirements for use and different types of occupancy.
Change of class of use: adapting and refurbishing the building for a new single class of use or to mixed uses, for example from industrial use to mixed small retail, residential and professional office use.
Demolish: redeveloping or selling the site.
(Kincaid, David; Nutt, Bev, and McLennan, Pete, 2001)
In the past it was assumed that an understanding of the intended use of a building provided the appropriate starting point for responsible design. "For the past 30 years, the idea of a designing a building to satisfy the use alone has formed the basis for the demand led architectural brief and its analysis of client requirements. Most designers have incorporated contingency measures within the process, to help face the indeterminacies of the future, however, the expectation of change of the use for a building, within a strategic approach to design, has been rare." (Kincaid, David; Nutt, Bev, and McLennan, Pete, 2001) This lack of expectation of change has been replaced by the introduction of new approaches to identify the viability of any proposed change of use and thus the commercial life of a building. A redundant property needs to be examined against the following criteria - function and use viability, technical and physical viability, and economic and financial viability.
Anyone considering the refurbishment of an existing building will face six key questions:
What is the use potential and financial value of the building under its present class of use, given current and emerging market conditions?
In the current circumstances, is refurbishment within the existing class of use sensible and secure, or should the possibilities for adaptive reuse be considered?
If the building is vacant, significantly under-utilised or inappropriate for its current use, what is the property's basic capacity to accommodate change?
How can the range of potentially viable options for change of use adoptions be identified?
What set of characteristics make the building "more" or "less" adaptable, and how should its "adaptability potential" be assessed?
How should the strategic and technical viability of proposed options for adaptations to new uses be examined practically, and what decision support systems can be used to assist in the evaluation?
(Cunnington, Pamela, 1988)
In addition to these measures, a computer based system called a "Use Comparator" is widely used in the adaptive reuse process. "The Use Comparator is a decision aid that helps the decision - maker to eliminate all non-viable change of use options, converge on a set of potential uses, and select the principal options for adaptive reuse that warrant detailed appraisal." (Kincaid, David; Nutt, Bev, and McLennan, Pete, 2001)
In cases where a future change of use is planned the use of these criteria helps clarify whether the preferred future use class is superior to alternative uses. Accordingly, it is no longer reasonable to assume that most new build stock will remain within its original class of use, throughout its effective physical life. As Sir Alex Gordon, once president of the Royal Institute of British Architects stated: "long life, loose fit, low energy" should be a guiding principle behind most design strategies.
Tate Modern - redundancy to urban stardom
"By re-using the imposing power station, the Tate and their architects bypass the need to create the memorable, signature form that is deemed essential in every other modern art gallery. They simply borrow it from the old building, with adaptations." (Moore, Rowan and Ryan, Raymond, 2000)
The conversion of the Bankside Power station in Southwark, London, is possibly the principal example of adaptive reuse in the world at the time of writing - such that it is already a British architectural icon. The area in which it is Situated, Southwark in London, was beginning to look dilapidated and visually depressing circa 1980. The neglected, run down nature of the buildings in the South London borough made it a place to be avoided - junk yards and scrap merchants were the sole occupiers of the bleak wasteland. A huge impenetrable brick fortress dominated the area of Bankside (fig 3.1), flanked by "grime encrusted warehouses". (The Architectural Review, February 1997) Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's gargantuan Bankside power station symbolised the gradual dilapidation of the impoverished Southwark, a working class area.
Constructed between 1948 and 1956 (fig 3.2), and located directly across the river from St. Paul's cathedral, it should never have been built on such a prominent site in the heart of London. It had been regarded as undesirable to have large power stations in the centre of cities, and in the County of London plan, as in several other plans for rebuilding the capital prepared during the dark years of the Second World War, banishing noxious industry was a high priority. However, the chairman of the Architecture Planning Committee was Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, OM, who three years later presented a model for a massive new electric power station on Bankside. As further expansion of existing sites by the London Power Company had been halted only by the war in 1939, an entirely new station seemed appropriate. Scott's choice as was unusual due to the fact that his work consisted mainly of desiging Roman Catholic churches. Upon producing his first design for Bankside, a cathedral of power, he proclaimed, "Why power stations should be considered as untouchables I cannot say. It is an opinion formed, I feel, by the past experience. Power stations can be fine buildings, but it must be demonstrated." (Gavin Stamp, 2000)
Not concerned about the criticism of its placement directly opposite St Paul's, he decided to create a dialogue between the two buildings by centring a single campanile (chimney stack) opposite the dome of the cathedral (fig 3.3). The building was conceived as a symmetrical urban monument with its central chimney the focal point. This single domineering element of the overall design reached 93 metres, just short of the Sir Christopher Wren's cathedral. Divided into 3 areas where which ran parallel to the river; the boiler house; the turbine hall and the substation comprised the main workings of the station.
The main construction medium consisted of steel and over 4 million bricks, reflecting Scott's interest in early Dutch modernism. The building skin consisted of over lapping planes, horizontal bands of vertical fluting and finials in the style of Greek acroteria - not the aesthetic of a common power station (fig 3.4). At its peak, the power station was one of the most efficient of those