Re-readings: 2
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Re-readings: 2

Interior Architecture and the Principles of Remodelling Existing Buildings

Graeme Brooker, Sally Stone

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eBook - ePub

Re-readings: 2

Interior Architecture and the Principles of Remodelling Existing Buildings

Graeme Brooker, Sally Stone

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About This Book

Re-readings 2 is a companion book to Re-readings, originally published in 2004. This second volume is testament to the growing interest and demand for clarification of the re-modelling, adaptation and transformation processes within the existing built environment. With increased interest in the sustainability and heritage agenda and emerging interest from non-European-centric areas of the world in this type of work, this book explores how the re-modelling of existing buildings is a sustainable and viable alternative to the construction of new buildings. Throughout this highly-illustrated book, drawings and photos of various projects from around the world highlight how the new fits into the existing. Case studies are analysed holistically, and include information on the practical issues and challenges of individual projects.

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Year
2019
ISBN
9781000726701

Chapter 1:
Analysis

Figure 1.4 Courtyard of the Kolumba Museum, Cologne by Peter Zumthor. The new elements are designed to complete the building and thus they indicate the extent of the mass of the original.
Figure 1.4 Courtyard of the Kolumba Museum, Cologne by Peter Zumthor. The new elements are designed to complete the building and thus they indicate the extent of the mass of the original.
The project as modification tells us that each situation offers a specific truth, to be sought and revealed as the essence of the goal, and as the truth of both the site and the geography that embodies that site’s particular history.1

Introduction

Artists, designers and architects who work with the material of existing context strive to reveal the hidden spirit of a place. Through a process of exposing and exploiting the memories of a situation, and in contrast to the amnesia of much contemporary production, they seek to interpret these meanings and construct an additional layer of consequence that will bestow new value on the place. This approach, which is based upon a perceptive and discriminating reading of place, produces both dynamic and appropriate results. The interior architect, designer and artist all have the opportunity to reflect upon the contingency, usefulness and emotional resonance of particular places through the examination and appropriation of the existing situation.
The use and reuse of an architectural site creates a direct connection not just with the present, but also with the past. It is a strategy that establishes an explicit relationship with context, not just of the building and its immediate surroundings, but also with the society that constructed it. The reading of a building or site can uncover a layered and stratified narrative. The understanding of the inherent qualities provide clues to the redesign of the place. It and conditions of building or site can is through a thorough knowledge and understanding of the existing condition that the architect or designer can uncover the meaning within a place. This knowledge can be used to activate, liberate and instigate a new future for the situation. And so the architect or designer who is to modify, transform or change the building to just to the agenda of the new users, but also accommodate a new use has to adhere not the intentions of the original building. This act of modification is part of the evolution of the building, it as another layer in the archaeology of the site.
To look closely at a particular situation can cause the familiar to become unfamiliar; equally, somewhere unknown can become recognisable. The initial purpose of this analysis will remove any preconceptions and alleviate any assumptions, so that the qualities of any built environment are not immediately coloured by supposition or prejudice. This will allow comparisons, juxtapositions and correlations to be made. The architect or designer may look at the urban grain, buildings and spaces, history, topography, geology, culture, food, evolution, geography, typologies, climate, population, flora, architecture, anti-architecture, key figures, activities, growth and decline, narrative, stratification, spatial development, occupation and definition, the meaning of space and probably many other things as well. All of these can inform the adaptation of the site.
Carlo Scarpa is generally considered to be the pre-eminent exponent of the art of reuse. He practised in the second half of the 20th century, mainly in the Veneto area of Italy. His work can be said to epitomise, in microcosm, the very character and nature of that particular area. The Olivetti Showroom in Venice (see page 2) was constructed in the late 1950s. The narrow single space fronts onto the magnificent St Mark’s Square and is situated next to a long dark alleyway. Venice has a direct relationship with water, and Scarpa exploited this to dramatic effect within the shop. He conceived the interior of the store as a continuum of the exterior space. The elements of the interior were lifted above a distinct datum line, to both physically and visually account for the regular ingress of the acqua alta or the high tide. The display counters and the storage cupboards are raised by about 400mm above the tiled floor, the pattern of which is slightly irregular. This suggests that it is continually moving, and thus the water from the square is both welcome and catered for. The stairs to the mezzanine slide into the main body of the shop, as if offering a step on to dry land. The first floor balcony surrounds the shop interior, and this allows a view back onto the watery floor, and through the plate glass window into the square. The idea of movement is very much part of the manifesto of the Modernist movement, so this places Scarpa in both Venice and the 20th century. The interior demonstrates a relationship between a specific place and its surroundings, and relates the complex story or narrative of the place.

Structure

This chapter will contain five sections. The first four will reinforce the argument that was developed in the first volume, while the fifth introduces the sustainable advantages of adaptation.
History and Function will concentrate upon the idea of recollection and expectation that is implicitly contained within any building and how this can be harnessed and interpreted within the adaptation of the structure. Context and Environment argues that the situation in which a building is located has a definite influence upon the character of the existing and by association the remodelled structure. These may be things immediately surrounding the original structure, and embrace the three-dimensional construction of the building itself, but also include things further away and dependent upon the influence of climate and the vernacular. The Form and Structure section discusses the manner in which a building was constructed and the influence that this will have upon the redesign. Rhythm, configuration, materials and detail are all important elements that contribute to the new and the old. The need for the designer to be completely aware of the needs of the users of the remodelled building is discussed within the Proposed Function section. Those who will occupy the new spaces may not be completely aware of the best method of arrangement or current thinking as they are likely to be blinded by the presentism of their existing organisation.
Rereadings volume 2 introduces a new section: Sustainable Adaptation. It can be argued that to reuse a building is an incredibly environmentally friendly act – after all, the structure and the infrastructure are in place, consequently saving energy and materials. The building itself may also play an important role in the collective memory of the area, therefore its adaptation and reuse strengthens the livelihood and general wellbeing of the community. The concept of the sustainable interior can be further enhanced if the designer constructs a building that can be used in a sustainable manner, in that the users or inhabitants are encouraged to act in an environmentally friendly manner while they inhabit the place. This can involve simple measures from windows that open, heating and cooling that can be manually controlled, to specifically placed meeting points within the interior.
To remodel a building in a sympathetic and successful manner, the designer needs to be able to anticipate the needs of the new users and combine this with a thorough knowledge of the memory and the circumstance of the existing.

Form and Structure

Introduction

The form of the building and the manner in which it was once occupied has a direct connection with the character of the remodelled structure. It is obvious that this influence can affect the manner in which the architect or designer approaches the design problem. To actively embrace the qualities of the existing will inevitably create a sympathetic and appropriate response.
The width of a room can be dictated by the size of the beam that supports the floor or ceiling above. Until relatively recently, trees were the construction material that dictated the organisation of a building. The beam in most buildings would have originally been made of timber and depending upon which type of wood is used, there is generally a comfortable size of about three to five metres, with an optimum of up to 12 metres. Of course the advent of steel and concrete meant that must larger spans could be bridged, but the beam does get fatter the greater the width to be crossed. The rhythm of rooms can create distinctive buildings and interiors. The typical townhouses of Northern Europe have an unmistakable rhythm to the structure. The repetition of the façades of these terraced houses is unambiguous and can either be extremely plain and simple, or highly decorated. The façades of the great buildings that face many market places in Flanders are incredibly fine; they are almost comple...

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