Post 302⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


Renovation is an action to renew or re-establish the original character of a building. The renewal could be to update the functional efficiency, or reinstate the sensorial aspects or a historical image.

Renovation is seen in a wider perspective. It can include all attempts to furnish a building with a new image or meaning. In the first instance the budget is predictable and results are assured, but in the second case it is difficult to equate the expense with the gains.

Renovated San Francisco Ferry Building

At commercial level, a building is considered to have had a Renovation, when its functional and sensorial values are substantially modified (generally upgraded). To do so, some intentionally replace, displace or install elements that are very different from the original. Buildings are often ‘redecorated’ by placing stylized historical elements like columns, cornices, etc. A substantially renovated building creates a new aura in the society. In this sense a renovation, not only rejuvenates, an old building but upgrades its esteem in the neighbourhood.

Golden Temple Amritsar India -Old Image

Renovations occur due to internal and external compulsions. The internal compulsions occur due to new occupants or aspirations for new style of living. Renovations also occur there is acute need to improve the working of a building. External pressures arise when the buildings of the neighbourhood are renovated, creating problems of visual, social and political equalization. Buildings get renovated when their relevance needs re-validation. This happens when the history is seen in a new perspective, there is greater awareness, or have financial resources. Concepts or things, which, were once considered to be inviolable, are re-evaluated during renovations. As a result renovation invariably includes some re-adjustive processes, like alterations, reformations, etc., however, it does not cover conservation or preservation processes.

China Tienanmen

Corporate buildings are often renovated for no other reason but to reflect the shift in goals or change in company’s structure. Shops are renovated to reflect new product lines, business styles. Restaurants, night clubs, landscapes and gardens are renovated to provide a variety. Landmarks in urban areas are renovated to provide impetus to new developments.

Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple Finchley Road London -Internal Renovation -external Conservation

Renovations are made not only to revitalize, but to impose new values to used or old buildings. City councils, however, too conscious of continuing the set image of the neighbourhood, do not allow renovations on external face. Many unused church buildings are being renovated as Hindu temples in UK, but only in terms of interiors. Internal changes in such buildings are more of the alterations then renovations. The internal changes are carried out with twofold purposes, to remove or dilute the Christian or alien religious values, and to create a Hindu temple like environment. Royal palaces in India are renovated as heritage hotels with modern services but, keeping intact, the spatial character of the palace. Hyderabad-house, New Delhi, has been renovated to function as a State house for a variety of official functions. White-house of US and Kremlin in Russia, have seen several extensive renovations.

Buildings capable of fulfilling the utilitarian and sensual requirements, are allowed to continue with due repairs and maintenance. Buildings that are regularly repaired and properly maintained do not seem to need renovation. Continuing repairs and maintenance processes renovate a building in such small measures that there is no perceptible change.

To renovate a building one needs to have an image to match. Old buildings lack such documents. So renovations are presumptive exercise with prudence.