Old buildings often have so well preserved structures, that the shell continues to be valuable as a place of inhabitation or occupation. With some changes such buildings can be made suitable for new uses. Conversion of buildings for new functions becomes easier when such buildings do not carry emotional or other symbolic values. There is no obsession to trace the antiquity and restore the past image of such buildings. As a result, owners, designers and builders, have unbounded scope, for affecting changes in such buildings.
Reformations and Conversions exploit the current assets of the building. Reformation of a building can happen, if only the surroundings can support the new occupation. A building is considered fit for reformation, when it represents a saving of physical resources and time, compared to the cost and time required in putting up a fresh building of equivalent size.
Selection of functions or activities, to be established is primarily determined by the
1- Location advantage the building offers,
2 – Spatial characteristics of the structure,
3 – Empathy its external form now presents or will create after the processes of reformation,
4 – Structural qualities such as equilibrium – stability and longevity of the building.
Commercial activities that exclusively derive economic viability due to the technical functioning of the building, such as the departmental stores, multi storey parks, industrial plants, etc. are generally require modern structures. Whereas other occupational activities that derive the economic or other where validity, from the nature of allowable activities (happenings) rather than the core or programmed functions can be accommodated in reformed or converted building.
Reformations are achieved through processes like Alterations, Extension, Renovation etc. of the building. Expectations for the ‘post reformation’ results are often of unprecedented nature, but yet very basic and without preconceptions. Success of reformation is measured in either the immediate economic gain like rent, or appreciation in the value of the building.
Notions of conversion as opposed to new construction, depends on the scale at which it is viewed. To the city planner the pulling down of a block and the construction of a new one to replace it is a conversion of the city locality, but for the architect it is just a project. For the interior designer furnishing a space in an old building is a new job. Conversion designers operate between two extremes, one within the realm of social relevance and acceptability, and other of utter professionalism to create an entity. Reformations or Conversions rehabilitate buildings. The rehabilitation of a building is very perplexing, Is one trying to re-establish the original functions into a structure that has become dysfunctional, due to structural reasons, malfunctioning of important utilities, or been abused by the social or political upheaval, Or, Is one trying to achieve the functional modifications to sustain viability, acceptability in the changed circumstances?
In Europe many old factories and shore front buildings like warehouses have been reformed. Old palaces have been rehabilitated into resorts. Churches converted into temples of other faith.