Many buildings often fall into disuse due to our cities' constant economic, social, and technological changes. The programmatic inconsistency of current times demands great versatility and adaptability from our infrastructures, increasingly leading projects to become uninhabited, and left to abandonment and decay.
Cultural Centers, Museums, and Galleries: Ancient Buildings Transformed into Art Spaces in Latin America
Responsible use and consumption of natural resources and the impacts of the building industry have been ongoing concerns in the field of architecture and urban planning. In the past, concepts such as clean slates, mass demolitions, and building brand new structures were widely accepted and encouraged. Nowadays, a transformation seems to be taking place, calling for new approaches such as recycling, adaptive reuse, and renovations, taking advantage of what is already there. This article explores a selection of projects and provides a glimpse into interventions by renowned architects in pre-existing buildings.
It has become evident that the spaces we inhabit have changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to appreciate values as lighting, ventilation, and comfort when working in home.
Sustainable architecture begins with designing for longer lifecycles and reuse. Looking to create more inclusive and viable futures, architects are exploring adaptive reuse as one of the best strategies to address the climate crisis and promote social justice. Reuse keeps the culture of an area alive, bridging between old and new as projects push the boundaries of circular and adaptive design.
Cities have always been a stage for transformations. The directions, the flows, the different ways of using the spaces, the desires, all change and give way to new places and needs. Such richness provides the city with an innovative and mutable character, but it also implies demand for more flexible architecture in terms of the functional program and structure. Especially during the past year, we have witnessed - at breakneck speed - great changes in the cities and urban spaces. The pandemic brought new paradigms that suddenly disrupted long-established norms. Houses became offices, offices became deserts, hotels turned into health facilities, and stadiums turned into hospitals. Meanwhile, architecture has had to reveal its flexibility to support purposes that could not be foreseen. This adaptability seems to have become the key to creating spaces that are coherent with our current lifestyle and the speed of modern times.
Within the Andes Mountains, the San Pedro Hot Springs is a place to press pause and contemplate, which interrupts a transnational highway between Chile and Argentina. Although these natural pools became a public landmark within the route, they eventually fell over time into a state of abandonment and deterioration as a result of the constant seismic movements in the region.
Saudi Arabia is Converting an Oil Rig into the World's First Offshore Extreme Amusement and Leisure Park
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has announced that it will convert an oil rig into a 150,000 square meter amusement park and resort located in the Arabian Gulf. Titled "THE RIG.", the project is expected to be the world's first touristic destination built on offshore oil platforms, featuring three hotels, eleven world-class restaurants, roller coaster rides, and extreme sports and activities like bungee jumping and skydiving, all accessible via a ferry, yacht, cruise, or helicopter.
It is easy to show cool images of adaptive reuse. The contrast of living history and control over it makes for dynamic visuals. But there is a deeper meaning to adaptive reuse. Architecture embodies humanity and humanity changes, so our buildings change.
The housing shortage has long been the catalyst for architectural speculation over adaptive resue scenarios or the valorisation of underused places in cities. At the same time, the health crisis and its work from home imperatives have brought into sharp focus the adaptive reuse potential of offices spaces into housing. The probability that some office buildings remain vacant post-pandemic opens up the possibility of bringing back housing to city centres, enabling the implementation of a 15-minute city vision. The following discusses the challenges and opportunities of transforming office spaces into housing, highlighting this limited phenomenon's long-term feasibility and impact.
"I Would Rather Be Known as an Architect of Elegant Restraint": Interview with Belmont (Monty) Freeman
Belmont (Monty) Freeman (b. 1951) founded his New York-based, currently eight-person practice, Belmont Freeman Architects in 1986. Its active projects are half institutional and half residential, with a special focus on adaptive reuse, predominantly in New York and nearby states. Among the firm’s most exemplary projects are the LGBT Carriage House on the University of Pennsylvania campus, a series of restorations at the Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building, renovations at the Yale Club in Manhattan, and the renovation of the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, designed by Kevin Roche. Current projects include an expansive but minimalist residential compound on Martha’s Vineyard, branch library renovations in New York City, and redevelopment of a former meatpacking building into a new Innovation Hub for Columbia University’s Business School.