Although ancient buildings carry compelling architectural presence, demolition or radical change is often their fate. While some architects prefer to introduce thoroughly new structures, others choose to honor the works of historic architects, who built the basis and foundations of structures that helped shape up cities today.
For the refurbishment of Paris’ Hotel Fouquet Barrière, located one block facing Avenue des Champs Elysées, Edouard François was selected to renovate the entire property, including offices, spa services, façade, and courtyards. François’ design strategy was rather unambiguous, using only two keywords as reference: “COPY-EDIT”; a reinterpretation of the “old” through contemporary technologies and modified material.
Under heavy bombing, buildings seem to have only one fate: destruction. Severely damaged during the Spanish Civil War, the 13th-century Gothic Church of Vilanova de la Barca (Lleida, Spain) remained abandoned since 1936.
It was only almost 80 years later that the remnants of the structure – parts of the naves, the west façade and the apse towards the east– went through a restoration and refurbishment process. This time, however, the building was not meant to be used as a church but as a multi-purpose hall.
As industry has shifted over the past century, in format, location, and type, the manufacturing and industrial spaces scattered across the western world have been repurposed. You have no doubt seen these structures, though perhaps without realizing. The large windows, high ceilings, and open floor plans optimized for factory work now mark the territory of the “creative class”. Such spaces have been disproportionately appropriated by creative industries such as arts and architecture; think of Herzog + de Meuron’s renovation of the Tate Modern (from a former power station) or the recent collaborative transformation of a locomotive yard into a library in the Netherlands.
Given the sheer magnitude and influence of its recorded history, Italy as we know it is a surprisingly young country. For centuries, the region was divided between powerful (and sometimes warring) city-states, each with their own identity, culture, and, fortunes, and influence. Some are eternally famous. Rome is a cradle of history and heart of religion; cool Milan is a hub of contemporary fashion and design; Florence is synonymous with the Renaissance and all the epoch’s relationship to the arts.
Turin’s history is arguably less romantic. The small city in Savoy, a north-Italian region bordering France, has established an identity as an industrial powerhouse. It is home to FIAT and some of Italy’s finest universities; the streets are dotted with works by Nervi, Botta, and Rossi. But despite the design pedigree, perhaps nothing better illustrates the region’s faceted history better than Castello di Rivoli.
On the surface, designing a new art museum for Harvard University is a brief so straightforward that it sounds like part of university curriculum itself. The program lends itself to the type of light and airy spaces architects dream of creating; the campus site promises both steady and engaged traffic. But, for all the apparent advantages, the road to realizing Harvard’s Art Museums was a deceptively complex one - one that ultimately took six years to see realized.
Nestled in the steep gorges and river valleys of Japan’s Tokushima prefecture is Kamikatsu - a small town seemingly like any other. But Kamikatsu, unlike its neighbors (or indeed, most towns in the world), is nearly entirely waste-free.
Since 2003 - years before the movement gained widespread popularity - the town has committed to a zero-waste policy. The requirements are demanding: waste must be sorted in more than 30 categories, broken or obsolete items are donated or stripped for parts, unwanted items are left in a store for community exchange. But the residents’ efforts over the years have paid off- nearly 80% of all the village’s waste is recycled.
The story of the Hastings Pier is an improbable one. Located in Hastings - a stone's throw away from the battlefield that defined English history - the pier was first opened to the promenading public in 1872. For decades the structure, an exuberant array of Victorian-era decoration, entertained seaside crowds but by the new millennium had fallen out of disrepair. In 2008 the pier was closed - a closure that became seemingly irreversible when, two years later, it burnt down.
In a creative scene that is already bursting with talent and innovation, Atelier Deshaus' works in China stand out. Their projects, often renovations of existing spaces, do not follow particular rules of style set by others or even themselves. Yet they are united in their subtle and enigmatic take on the experience of space in the ever-changing urban environments in China.
Peter Zumthor's quiet, technically pristine, and beautifully detailed work has long been an inspiration for architects. His Kolumba Museum, located in Cologne, Germany, a city that was almost completely destroyed in World War II, houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s collection of art which spans more than a thousand years. Zumthor’s design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site’s history and preserving its essence.
Completed last year, AL_A's porcelain public courtyard at London's V&A Museum is the largest architectural intervention and restoration of the site in more than 100 years. AL_A also designed a new colonnade and a column-free exhibition gallery. The design connects the space with the neighboring buildings on site, giving the museum a more streamlined sequence between gallery spaces.
At first glance, The Stealth Building looks like a pristinely-restored cast iron apartment building. That’s because technically, it is. But upon closer inspection, the Lower Manhattan building is rife with innovative restoration and renovation practices by WORKac.
A +100 meter stretch of land beneath a train overpass in Koganecho, a district of Yokohama, Japan, underwent a progressive refurbishment in which seven different types of community space, each designed by a different architect, were built within a pre-set spatial grid. Historically there were many social issues in the area, largely in relation to its profitable but dangerous black market and red-light district. Once the illegal activity was eradicated in 2005, the underpass presented a great opportunity for social re-development, and the resultant project - the Koganecho Centre - emphasized an age-old Japanese cultural commitment, where what was once broken is used to make something new.
The Moritzburg castle in the city of Halle is exemplary of the Gothic military architecture in 15th century Germany. Despite the partial destruction of the north and west wings during the Thirty Years War, the site has managed to retain most of its original features: a surrounding wall, three of the four round towers at the corners, and a central courtyard.
But more importantly, the castle has been home to an art museum since 1904. The challenge arose when this exhibition space needed to be expanded, without modifying or adding onto the original columns. With some genius and creativity, Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos created a new exhibition space based on a single, clear architectural idea: a new roof.
Research is the key to Andrea Oliva’s project for Shed #19—not only because this old factory was turned into a technopole for industrial investigation, but also because the architect’s proposal used research as a way of identifying the building’s possible transformations. In this case, the rich industrial history of the plant and the area is deemed essential for its refurbishment; its recovery depends on understanding its significance.
The iD Town in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, is a project with many charms. The building itself has a distinctive history: in its prime, it used to be the Honghua Dyeing factory, but then was abandoned. Topographically, too, this building occupies a unique place, perched on a hilltop and surrounded by the mountains and the coast of the Southern Chinese Sea.
With minimal interventions, O-OFFICE architects have managed to refurbish this 8-hectare factory in Shenzhen into a thriving cultural and community center. The original ground floor was converted to form a large open concrete pavilion. What was once a workshop for purifying rough cloth was turned into a reception center – the Z gallery – with 7 individual artist studios, exhibition and meeting rooms and a café. Rotating wall-doors and sliding glass doors help the gallery take on different expressions during different events or in different seasons.