Adaptive Reuse

Monday 25 Nov 2013

Follow in the footsteps of Rafael Vinoly, Herzog & de Meuron and Jean Nouvel...

Adaptive reuse by definition is something repurposed, reinvented, reinvigorated and regenerated. When it comes to building design, rather than demolish an existing structure and start again, the architect is tasked with the integration of old and new, often with wonderfully creative results. These types of projects span all typologies and sectors to create some very imaginative renovations, meaning that this particular WAN AWARDS category is always highly anticipated and we think with good reason.

One recently initiated renovation project of note is the regeneration of Battersea Power Station in London, masterplanned by Rafael Vinoly. Part of the wider Nine Elms development scheme, this project looks set to be one of the largest and most highly anticipated adaptive reuse designs in the capital since the Tate Modern, which was redesigned by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Conserving one of London’s largest recognisable landmarks and developing an entire district is a perfect example of preservation and simultaneous regeneration of a prime location.

Outside the UK but still within Europe is another highly celebrated and large scale adaptive reuse project that we feel sums up the nature of this technique to recycle and breathe new life into an empty and disused space: the Wiener Gasometer Complex in Vienna. Designed by architects Jean Nouvel (Gasometer A), Coop Himmelb(l)au (Gasometer B), Manfred Wehdorn (Gasometer C) and Wilhelm Hozblauer (Gasometer D) the cluster of four former gasometers was completed between 1999 and 2001.

The full transformation of what was once a set of industrial buildings for gas production completely changed the area which soon became a mixed-use district for living, shopping, working and socialising, whilst retaining the stunning Victorian-era architecture through the exoskeleton of each column. Both case studies focus on more than just the preservation of something ‘iconic’: they consider local context and respond to the modern user.

Not all adaptive reuse projects take on such grand proportions but the same core values can apply no matter what the scale may be. Another project that has caught our attention is a recent entry and residential adaptation by architects Fougeron Architecture in San Francisco. Flip House seeks to reconnect an erratically laid-out home with its surrounding landscape. Rather than bulldoze the site and construct something new, the architects worked with their clients to create a more rational and smoothly integrated piece of architecture, taking advantage of an ideal plot of land with dynamic city views.

With adaptive reuse rather than new build becoming more and more relevant in today’s practices, greener and more environmentally-conscious building is aligning with keeping costs down and salvaging cultural or historical elements within a project. The result? We are very much looking forward to finding out through this year’s award entries!

For further information on the WAN Adaptive Reuse Award please visit our dedicated WAN Adaptive Reuse Award page.

Alternatively, you can contact: faye.chalmers@wantoday.com. There is currently a 15% early bird discount, which will be available to everyone who registers before 30 November 2013

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