Post 402 – by Gautam Shah
A building represents a designer’s professionalism, an owner’s dream, and a builder’s craftsmanship. The building is a societal heritage of the values, traditions, beliefs, politics, laws, and environment. The building, as it ages and survives, the idea of societal heritage begins to be associated with it. But stake holders are more concerned with the aging and survival of the building, than the indirect associations it is gaining. Such association of Heritage come afore only when the building shows signs of irrecoverable disintegration. It is perhaps nostalgic feeling that accomplishments are getting irretrievably lost. Buildings result from immense amounts of resources and effort, so there is natural resistance to demolition or disintegration of existing buildings. Though public preference fluctuates from age to age, between creation of new buildings and preservation of existing buildings.
New buildings must confirm the most recent regulations. This is seen to be a discouraging factor. Old buildings were constructed when land-use patterns were comparatively lenient. Provision of parking, emergency egress, ventilation and daylight requirements, sustainability, energy management provisions, etc. may make a new structure cost-prohibitive. It is prudent to persist with old repairable structures.
While constructing a replacement building, one must manage old owners or tenants by way of temporary accommodation or negotiated evacuation. Old structures are located in the core of the city, a very busy precinct, to conduct new construction activity.
Professionals like architects, interior designers, builders, have a natural interest in the life-span of buildings. A building signifies effort (intellectual for conception), manpower (for execution), energy inputs, resources and plant-equipment’s utilization. It also represents fees and service costs, monetary investments and above all consummation of a non recoverable entity -time.
In any urban setting of today, the question of Age of Building is very important. Today, 70% of the city’s apartment buildings (Toronto, Canada) are more than 40 years old, and substantial number of them (60%) are located in the core areas of city.
Of all the buildings available for human use today in urban areas, substantial number of them are more than 25 years old. In other words, these buildings were commissioned by a generation of people, that are not alive to day, or have retired from active life. More than Half of the urban population spend their entire life, in buildings ‘that were not conceived and built by or for them, but adopted for or by them’. This proportion is likely to increase as time passes for TWO major reasons:
1 Buildings are being built with better technologies and last longer.
2 People migrate more frequently, and so have little time to construct a new building.
Buildings are over-designed, and so outlive the planned functions. There are several sub-levels where ‘factors of safety’ are individually applied. These individual factors add up to substantial ‘margin of safety’. Wherever the components are well integrated, such duplication of safety factors is avoided. During later day repairs, replacement and maintenance schedules the original cohesive working is disturbed. The interactive sharing of loads and risks become scarce, and components begin to decay at different and often unpredictable rates..
In certain emergencies, it is not possible, to either plan or build new buildings, and as a result one must locate and adapt readily available structures. Nevertheless, an assured life span of the building is always the major factor for selection in such exigencies.