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Refurbishment: The Latest Architecture and News

8 Stories of Architects Embracing Refurbishment and Adaptive Reuse

OMA / Jason Long's Adaptive Reuse of Historic Houston Post Office. Image © Leonid Furmansky
OMA / Jason Long's Adaptive Reuse of Historic Houston Post Office. Image © Leonid Furmansky

Over the past year, established practices have continued to champion the transformation of existing structures, with adaptive reuse and renovations increasingly becoming a defining aspect of contemporary architecture  From the renovation of landmark structures to the adaptive reuse of obsolete facilities, the idea of giving new life to existing buildings has been embraced as the premise for a more sustainable practice, but also as a means of reinforcing the urban and cultural identity of cities. Discover 8 designs and recently completed projects that showcase a new common practice of reusing existing building stock.

GMP Converts Steel Factory in Shanghai Into Art Academy. Image © Willmore CGMarcel Breuer building to be converted into a hotel. Image © Becker + Becker© Herzog & de Meuron. ImageStation AIdea Factory by MVRDV. Image © Xia Zhi+ 9

The Architecture of Salvage

Buildings are like bodies with organs. When this is the case, with a little extra effort, buildings can be dismantled instead of demolishing them. Dismantling involves carefully removing salvageable components, storing them, and finding them new homes. While this solution is not always possible, it can be part of a sustainable effort that — in addition to keeping material out of landfills — preserves the history and memory embedded within unique materials and fragments. It also honors the human labor invested in our environment. This video explores the reuse of building materials and what it means to be surrounded by fragments with history. It also profiles institutions dedicated to the dismantling and dissemination of building materials, as well as artistic practices that reconfigure our existing built environment including Noah Purifoy and Catie Newell of Alibi Studio. 

BIG, Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Asif Khan Studio Are Among the Shortlisted Practices for Barbican Centre's Refurbishment

© Max Colson Courtesy of Barbican Centre
© Max Colson Courtesy of Barbican Centre

The Barbican Centre is up for a substantial renovation, and the City of London Corporation revealed the five shortlisted teams for the refurbishment of the Brutalist icon, among which are practices like BIG, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Adjaye Associates or Asif Khan Studio. The cultural venue at the heart of the eponymous post-war housing estate in central London was the subject of an international competition aiming to preserve its heritage while upgrading the ageing structure to contemporary requirements and artistic aspirations.

© Max Colson Courtesy of Barbican Centre© Max Colson Courtesy of Barbican Centre© Max Colson Courtesy of Barbican Centre© Peter Dazeley Courtesy of Barbican Centre+ 5

Kengo Kuma and Rita Topa on the Refurbishment of the Gulbenkian Modern Art Center and Gardens in Portugal

Back in 2019, Japanese architect Kengo Kuma won the contest to design the expansion of the gardens of the Gulbenkian Foundation and the new entrance of the Modern Collection of the Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. According to the architect, the museum can be a "wise example of the future as coexistence with the Earth and us", taking inspiration from nature and its relationship with architecture. In a recent No País dos Arquitectos podcast, Sara Nunes interviews Kengo Kuma and Rita Topa, architect at Kengo Kuma Associates, to talk about the expansion of the gardens and museum, along with the mission of architecture and the role of the architect, processes, and work references developed for the project.

Creative Renovations: 14 Projects With Surprising Solutions That Transform The Space

Renovation projects are often perceived as being more limited and therefore less exciting. In this article, we present renovation projects with unexpected solutions that show that it is possible to be creative when adapting and reusing an existing space.

Renovation projects - also called retrofitting, refurbishing, remodeling - are becoming increasingly popular in the market and the practice of architecture, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

House in Chiharada / Studio Velocity. Image © Kentaro Kuriharaf(x) House / Adhoc Arquitectura y Territorio. Image © David FrutosHouse AD25 / João Tiago Aguiar Arquitectos. Image © Fernando Guerra FD+SGReforma residencial em Fukui / Yoshichika Takagi + associates. Image Cortesia de Yoshichika Takagi+ 16

Interventions in Pre-existing Architecture: Adaptive Reuse Projects by Renowned Architects

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.

Centro Cultural Caixa Forum Barcelona by Arata Isozaki. Image © Felipe UgaldeConvento das Bernardas by Eduardo Souto de Moura. Image © Luis Ferreira AlvesTransformation of 530 dwellings in Bordeaux. Image © Philippe RuaultTai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art by Herzog & de Meuron. Image © Iwan Baan+ 9

Refurbishment, Adaptive Reuse and Extension of Apartments in Mexico

Edificio Dr Atl 285 / BAAQ'. Image © Arturo ArrietaMejora y ampliación Un Cuarto Más / Taller ADG. Image © Jaime NavarroUn Cuarto Más / ANTNA. Image © Jaime NavarroCasa Kaspé / Zeller & Moye. Image © Dane Alonso+ 13

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.

Marcel Breuer's Iconic Brutalist Building is being Transformed into an Eco-friendly Boutique Hotel

Marcel Breuer’s Pirelli Tire Building, a beacon of Brutalist architecture in the United States, is being reimagined as a hotel by development company Becker and Becker. After being abandoned for years, the structure was sold to architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker in 2020 with plans to transform it into a sustainable 165-room hotel. The sculptural concrete structure aims to be a model for passive design hotels using its unique architectural features and innovative adaptive reuse techniques.

© Becker + Becker© Becker + Becker© Becker + Becker© Becker + Becker+ 22

OMA Completes First Quadrant of KaDeWe Department Store in Berlin

© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA
© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

The first quadrant of OMA’s Berlin KaDeWe department store transformation opened its doors to the public, revealing a new approach to retail design in the age of online shopping and shifting consumer behaviour. The masterplan divides the historic building, the largest department store in continental Europe, into four smaller, easily accessible and navigable sectors. The completed quadrant features a six-storey void containing a series of escalators and simultaneously acting as circulation, retail and event space.

© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA© Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA+ 21

The New Kremlin Museum Nestles a Contemporary Design Within a Historic Monument

The new Kremlin museum set within the UNESCO protected museum ensemble in Red Square nestles a contemporary structure within the vast courtyard of a 19th-century building. Designed by Moscow-based practices NOWADAYS office and Meganom, the project will house the vast Armory collection, of which only 30% is currently available to the public with the Kremlin walls. The refurbishment of the historic Middle Trading Rows building, together with the new extension, complement each other, creating a diverse and complex museum experience.

Courtesy of NOWADAYS officeCourtesy of NOWADAYS officeCourtesy of NOWADAYS officeCourtesy of NOWADAYS office+ 13

Warehouse Renovation: 12 Projects Reusing Industrial Structures in Brazil

SouSmile Headquarters / SuperLimão Studio. Photo: © Maira AcayabaStudio Pier 88 / Pietro Terlizzi Arquitetura. Photo: © Guilherme PucciCasa Fundamental Kindergarten / Gabriel Castro + Marcos Franchini + Pedro Haruf. Photo Courtesy of Gabriel Castro / ReverboMALHA / Tadu Arquitetura. Photo: © Ilana Bessler+ 47

Architecture has been increasingly focusing on adaptive reuse, taking advantage of the opportunity to redesign existing spaces to provide new purposes while also reducing damage to the environment. In this context, recycling warehouses is quite usual and is becoming more popular every day because these spaces often have large open plans which allow many different layouts.

Will Refurbishment be the Architectural Specialization of the Future?

The choice of Lacaton & Vassal to receive the 2021 Pritzker Prize was, above all, emblematic. Under the mantra “never demolish, never remove or replace, always add, transform and reuse”, the French duo built a career focused on renovating buildings, providing them with spatial quality, efficiency and new programs. Their approach contrasts with most of the architecture we are used to honoring: iconic, imposing and grandiose works. It also contrasts with the notion of the tabula rasa, of building and rebuilding from scratch, so well represented in Le Corbusier's Ville Radieuse, and which has fascinated architects and urban planners ever since.

Whether because of the sustainability demands currently in vogue, or simply because there are already enough buildings around the world, the task of rehabilitating spaces and buildings has been seen as an important driver of change. The focus is generally to center efforts on interior spaces, paying special attention to the environmental quality and comfort of the inhabitants, in addition to adapting the uses to contemporary demands. The main question revolves around how to update (and even automate) the buildings of the past to adapt to new needs for efficiency, sustainability and well-being.

The Refurbishment and Adaptive Reuse of Brutalist Architecture

"Demolition is a waste of many things – a waste of energy, a waste of material, and a waste of history," says Pritzker-winning architect Anne Lacaton. In recent years, refurbishment and adaptive reuse have become ubiquitous within the architectural discourse, as the profession is becoming more aware of issues such as waste, use of resources and embedded carbon emissions. However, the practice of updating the existing building stock lacks consistency, especially when it comes to Brutalist heritage. The following explores the challenges and opportunities of refurbishment and adaptive reuse of post-war architecture, highlighting how these strategies can play a significant role in addressing the climate crisis and translating the net-zero emissions goal into reality while also giving new life to existing spaces.

Northampton International Academy  by Architecture Initiative. Image © Luke HayesKB Building by HofmanDujardin + Schipper Bosch. Image © Matthijs van RoonFive Manhattan West by REX. Image © Laurian GhinitoiuPirelli Tire Building by Marcel Breuer. Image + 6

C+S Architects and Citizenstudio to Redefine The Architectural Image of Moscow's Metrogorodok Area

C+S Architects and Citizenstudio are among the winners of the Face of Renovation competition, an initiative to redesign the architectural image of housing stock across 31 sites in Moscow. The competition sought to improve the experience of the urban environment through the renovation of urban blocks, fostering a sense of identity through individuality. In redesigning the Metrogorodok area (lot no. 13), the two architecture studios focused on overcoming the uniformity and repetitiveness of the prefab housing estate while also enriching the public space through the plasticity of the facades, the use of colours and the creation of intermediate spaces.

Courtesy of C+S ArchitectsCourtesy of C+S ArchitectsCourtesy of C+S ArchitectsCourtesy of C+S Architects+ 17

Building on the Past: Get to Know The Work of Carl Gerges Architects

Last year, Archdaily inaugurated its first edition of Young Practices, an initiative meant to highlight emerging offices that pursue architectural innovation. Carl Gerges Architects is a Lebanese practice whose body of work is a careful consideration of culture, context, and heritage. Villa Nadia and Batroun Boutique Hotel are two of the studio’s unbuilt projects that showcase the assemblage of architectural tradition and contemporary design, informed by a poetic sensibility and a deep understating of the local social, environmental and historical landscape.

Batroun Boutique Hotel . Image Courtesy of Carl Gerges ArchitectsCourtesy of Carl Gerges ArchitectsCourtesy of Carl Gerges ArchitectsBatroun Boutique Hotel . Image Courtesy of Carl Gerges Architects+ 42

MVRDV Begins Renovation of Shenzhen Tower

Work has begun for MVRDV's renovation of Shenzen Women & Children Centre, a mixed-use tower featuring an array of public functions, now in need of a comprehensive transformation. Constructed during the city's explosive growth following the Special Economic Zone designation in the 1980s, the building is one of the many nearing the end of their initial lifespan, and MVRDV's adaptive re-use project sets an important precedent for repurposing these buildings by bringing colour, greenery and a new layer of public spaces.