Adaptive reuse projects can be illustrated in many different ways, from
re-functioning of an old industrial building to converting containers into shopping malls. In fact, the main issue is to transform an old structure with a new function. Adaptive reuse can give an existing building a new purpose with a change in capacity-function and performance.
With the decrease in building parcels, increasing demand for new buildings causes the demolition of existing buildings. Some historic buildings may remain in valuable areas due to their location but may have lost their functions. These buildings contribute significantly to the historic and cultural values of the country. Therefore, adaptive reuse of buildings can play a crucial role in the renewal of the built environment by meeting the growing demand for new areas and preserving the prestige of historic buildings. The introduction of strategies and policies that promote adaptive reuse and sustainable maintenance of existing buildings is an important issue today.
As a result of the implementation, the buildings are not only restored, but also have a new function different from the original one. Therefore, adaptive reuse is not a refurbishment. For example, The Warehouse Hotel in Singapore, a historic building used as a warehouse in the 1890s, has been converted from a warehouse to a hotel. Similarly, a former steel mill in US has been converted into an art and culture campus called “SteelStacks”.
Abandoned, dysfunctional buildings are revitalized through adaptive reuse and have the potential to become centres of attraction. I think that such projects have an important role in the preservation of historic structures and historic environment. The advantages of this practice can be listed as reviving the historic or abandoned, functionalizing, making the historic heritage sustainable, preserving the urban memory. At the same time, the demolition of existing buildings is a waste of energy and materials. Adaptive reuse can significantly reduce new construction and land acquisition costs and revive neighbourhoods by adding value to inefficient properties.
key ingredients and principles of a successful project
In order to decide on the most accurate adaptable reuse strategy for historic buildings, many factors need to be put forward holistically. Sometimes this transformation can also be developed according to decision-makers and policy issues in the relevant context.
While maintaining the balance between old and new, it is important to carefully integrate modern facilities and building systems that do not compete with historic architecture and emphasize the historic character. In addition, one of the objectives is to create a space that works well for the proposed program. For a successful project, the right partners should be recruited to the project team and it is necessary to understand what the building means for the environment and what the expectations may be for it.
My master thesis, which was about the re-functioning of the historic Turkish bath in Edirne, actually resulted in a transformation project. I conducted an experiment on adaptive reuse with the Turkish bath, an important representative of the Ottoman aquatic culture in urban memory. The study aimed to keep the characteristics of the building alive and contribute to preserving its place in urban memory.
We also carried out some transformation projects professionally. The transformation of a historic wooden mansion in Northern Turkey into a hotel was a project that we executed in 1992, foundation year of our office. Following the survey and restitution works approved by the board, the project was designed and implemented.
In another project, we transformed a historic Jewish house built from brick in a lively commercial centre in Çanakkale to a commercial building due to its location. The brick facade of the building was in the foreground. The façade of the building, which has the local identity of the region, was renewed in accordance with the original with restitution and restoration projects and expanded with an annex.
The re-functioning of the building that houses Etibank branch and offices of the Eti Maden is another transformation project we have undertaken. In this project, the building is renewed to correspond today’s requirements as a guest house with a contemporary facade design approach that affects the surrounding environment.
The neighbouring buildings on the street where the building was located had formed unidentified as well as an unqualified and neglected architectural texture in the seven-storey adjoining building structure that continued continuously along the boulevard. The basic approach towards the facade design was to use white crystalline image of the bor minerals produced by Eti Maden İşletmeleri one the facade. The elegant and plain facade makes a modest statement in the texture of The Historic Peninsula.
challenges and design approach
Unlike the new structure, there is always the risk of unexpected challenges that arise during the process of re-functioning of old buildings. This is also another distinctive features in the design of reuse projects.
On the other hand, current regulations and legal constraints may put some requirements to the architect which are difficult to adapt to the structure as the design condition. Challenges that can be listed in reuse projects primarily as program adaptation, desires / requirements of contemporary life, economic considerations, complexity and technical difficulties, high maintenance and repair costs due to physical deterioration and defects. A lack of awareness of adaptive reuse may also be added to this list.
In the design process, I think architects question more when redesigning existing buildings. Architectural design is already an extremely complex activity and dealing with an existing building in the design process makes it even more complicated. Design features such as flexibility, building status, space, age, building envelope, technical scope, ability to host new services, accessibility and location directly affect adaptability and set limits in the design process
social and cultural significance of adaptive reuse
Historic buildings may lose their original function over time. It is possible to keep alive, maintain and sustain the buildings by functionalizing thanks to adaptive reuse.
Adaptive reuse can be an excellent way of preserving the opportunities and historic value of abandoned buildings and attracting new life to an old building. For environmental reasons, whether it is the availability of land or the desire to preserve a historic landmark, many architectural firms today produce transformation projects and revitalize buildings as a response to some of the modern problems of the built environment.
Why reuse? In general, people seem to have an increasing belief in the importance of history and the value of historic and cultural heritage for our environment. In the construction sector, economic factors have become very important. Even if it is known that renovating an existing building may be more expensive than building a new one, it makes adaptive reuse more attractive than rebuilding by taking into account all ecological factors related to demolition. Moreover, the fact that reuse and redesign has been remain on the agenda in recent years cannot be denied. It can be find another reason for this trend, but, in general, there seems to be a common acceptance of the added value of the reuse of the existing compared to the replacement of a building.
Adaptive reuse includes a process that protects the original building as much as possible while improving performance to the current standard. In addition, transformation can significantly contribute to improving the living standards of people in the regions that we might call neglected.
Such projects have social, economic and environmental benefits. While preserving the historic importance of buildings, it is important to overcome barriers and challenges and to take advantage of the benefits to improve people’s living conditions. Research shows that adaptive reuse of historic buildings helps to improve social values in society by positively enhancing social interaction and lifestyle change. Transformation helps to preserve and promote cultural values such as aesthetic value, symbolic value and moral values.