Architecture Reborn: Converting Old Buildings for new Usesby Kenneth Powell, Ken Powell, Kenneth Powell
Architecture Transformed is a detailed investigation into the adaptation and conversion of existing buildings as a distinctive type of architectural design. Examples of this work abound. Renzo Piano has transformed the legendary Fiat factory into a cultural and commercial complex; a former public school in Long Island City, NY has become P.S.1 Institute for Contemporary Art; and a 1930s factory in Detroit is now the HOPE Center for Advanced Technologies. In color photographs and plans, here are forty-four international schemes that demonstrate that reuse is a positive--even imperative--way to achieve a forward-looking architecture. Four extensive chapters group projects into spaces for living and working, leisure and learning, museums, and unfinished projects such as the British Museum redevelopment by Foster and Partners, and the reconstruction of Grand Central Terminal in New York City. For architects, students, and all proponents of creative reuse of structures, this is an essential pictorial reference and an important collection of case histories.
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 9.59(w) x 11.65(h) x 1.15(d)
Read an Excerpt
Agronomic Faculty: Gembloux, Belgium
Samyn and Partners Architects and Engineers, 1993-95
Historic barns, often monumental in scale and among the most striking monuments produced by the agrarian societies of the past, pose a major conservation problem in many European countries and in parts of North America. (William Morris extolled the barn at Great Cornwell, Berkshire, as being 'grand as a cathedral'.) Many have been lost, others spoiled by insensitive conversions residential use is common but is, in fact, generally inappropriate, since it involves breaking up a whole into a number of small spaces. Public and commercial uses can often preserve at least something of the internal character of a barn.
The Agronomic Faculty at Gembloux is housed in a secularized medieval abbey. The acquisition of a nearby listed farm complex allowed the University of Gembloux to create an auditorium (also used as a conference hall and venue for concerts and drama) in the great barn of the farm, completed in 1762. A competition for the conversion was won by Brussels-based Samyn and Partners and provided for a 600-seat auditorium plus a number of smaller lecture and conference rooms.
The listed status of the barn predicated a minimal intervention. (The architects worked closely with Belgium's Commission Royale des Monuments et des Sites throughout.) The integrity of the historic structure -- 11 brick piers on each side, supporting a magnificent timber roof -- had to be respected. But the subdivision of the internal volume was inevitable: half was allotted to the auditorium, the remainder to the foyer and other ancillary spaces. New galleries and the mezzanines that provide access to them are distinctively contemporary in feel. Staircases formed in steel and timber provide essential fire and emergency escape routes. The new auditorium is a warm and intimate space, with very good sight lines.
The aesthetic of the transformation is entirely modern but intended to be almost 'rustic' in its emphasis on function -- services are frankly but unselfconsciously exposed. Timber is used extensively, for example for the new auditorium seating. New floors are of brick and stone. Existing brick and stonework has been repaired, repointed and cleaned up. Timber beams have been left found, though reinforced with steel. Air-conditioning was not necessary, given the nature of the structure and the effectiveness of cross-ventilation. Acoustic panels have been inconspicuously installed at roof level, providing acoustic conditions suitable for music or the spoken word.
The Gembloux project impresses by its rigorous, but completely undemonstrative, commitment to the character of the existing building. Its chief merit lies, however, in the creation of distinctive new spaces within the context of a larger existing volume. The most significant element was probably the restraint shown by a client determined to achieve a dignified transformation rather than utilize space to the maximum.
Excerpted by permission of Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. Copyright c 1999 Calmann & King Ltd.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews