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Stone, S., 2005.

Re-readings: The design principles of remodelling existing buildings

Output Type:Journal article
Publication:Advances in Architecture Series
Pagination:pp. 125-134

The re-use of existing structures has been a common practice since the first buildings were constructed and yet very little theoretical analysis of the subject exists. At the start of this new century, in an attempt to preserve our cultural heritage, large numbers of existing buildings are re-modelled in preference to demolition. Often, rather than an approach being taken that promotes a sympathetic and symbiotic relationship between new and old, contemporary statements of construction and environment are being imposed upon these buildings. But an approach based upon a perceptive and discriminating reading of the existing can produce both dynamic and appropriate results. The discovery and recognition of the embodied meaning of a place can be interpreted through building. The architect has the opportunity to reflect upon the contingency, usefulness and emotional resonance of particular places and structures through their-use of existing buildings. This paper proposes a theoretical framework for architects and designers involved with the interpretation and adaptation of buildings. It attempts to respond to remodelling as an artform, making sense of the considerable structural, aesthetic, environmental, contextual and programatic challenges of re-using buildings. This process can be broken down into a number of different sections, although in practice the separate factors inevitably merge. These stages are; the analysis or the revealing of the existing building which leads to the development of a strategy that will provide an overall plan for the design of the building whilst the tactics provide the detail of what the remodelling actually feels or looks like. It is through the understanding of the pre-existing that the remodelled building can become endowed with a new and greater meaning. An investigation of the archaeology of the original can reveal previously hidden or obsolete characteristics that contain the possibility of being exploited. The place can be activated.