Post 400 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


A building is a major asset. A dwelling owner wants it to last for own life and perhaps for the next generation. A ruler wants the building to be entity perpetuating the dynasty. Public buildings are deified as ever lasting monuments. Permanence of buildings is both physical and metaphoric. At physical level, the reality impinges in terms of the building’s form, stability sustainability, functionality, etc. At metaphoric level the building has an image formed of social relevance, architectural character, and novelty. The image of a building has different associations to various sections of the society.

Connaught Place New Delhi India

A building that has an architectural style is continued as a relic. When it has commemorative connections, as mark of an era, achievement or an event it becomes a memorial. Few structures are created for non-utilitarian purposes as monuments. Buildings that valued and need to be remembered, are restored or conserved to retain their form, but often in complete absence of the original setting. A building that has substantially lost the form and has indistinct circumstantial connections are re-enacted through re-imaging of its setting, like through Sound & light (son et Lumière) shows on historical sites.

Persepolis Iran

A Builder recognizes the building for its stability or equilibrium. In this pursuit the builder unless restrained by the economics will overdo the job by making the building extra strong (safe). In rural areas where the user is the designer and the builder, permanence resides in the personal ability to maintain and upgrade the building. For such self-builders structure is permanent so long it can be reconditioned from personal or local resources. In nomadic or intensively migrant societies, the dwellings are light and transportable, yet the selection of form and the materials, reflect their quest for permanence.

Taos Pueblo -self built structures -ability to maintain and upgrade the building

Virupaksha temple gopura from Hemakuta hill India stepped pyramid for stability and permanence

A User perceives permanence in terms of buildings’ capacity to accommodate the changes effortlessly through the passage of time.

A Designer distinguishes a new building for specific set of functions only. Architects very rarely design buildings for reuse or adoptive functions.

A lay-person perceivesmonumental buildings’ to be of time-tested or mature technology and durable, whereas, fragile buildings (though fairly stable and functionally adequate) are of a newer or untested technology and so temporary.

Exterior -Hindola Mahal Mandu India Tapered form for stability

Interior -Hindola Mahal Mandu India

Substantial judgements on permanence of a building rest on its capacity to serve the functions and also to adopt new functions. Companies maintain the firm’s headquarters in the original building, by substantially altering the interiors, and by conserving the exterior. Where in spite of exercises of continuity, the building often remains a symbolic entity.

Older buildings in good localities with high social, political and an economics profile, with strong architectural character or ‘branded form’ are reinforced with retro fitting technologies. Often the compulsion derives from local authority’s conditions of development.

buildings and architecture of Bath, a city in Somerset in the south west of England Conservation.

It is nearly impossible for an individual owner to enforce conservation of the surroundings. The social, political and financial involvement, is beyond the reach of an owner or user. However, public buildings such as of public utility, serving social functions, or of society’s pride and prestige may have its surroundings well maintained or even resurrected.



Post 399 –  by Gautam Shah


Frankfurt Skyscraper Old Town Ffm Historic Old Town

Buildings are like the proverbial cat with nine lives. Buildings persist for a very long and indeterminable period. Buildings remain relevant till the structure or parts of it can provide shelter. And, even after loss of its integrity as a shell for shelter, its parts and components are scavenged for reuse. Buildings are precious assets for the society, acquired at a great expense of resources and effort. No society wants them to go waste so buildings get reborn, put to different use, or its parts recycled.


Life of a building is evaluated on basic two counts: Stability and Relevance.

Stability of a building is checked in terms of Structural Integrity, Physical Condition, and the Stack-Holders’ Perceptions. The structural integrity ensures its capacity to stand-up in equilibrium, by defying or overcoming the gravity, stability and consistency against many forces, and safety and security as a place of habitation. The physical conditions are reflected in weathering processes of nature, and the user-related wear-tear.


Stake holders’ perceptions reflect the prestige and acceptability of the building in the society for its aesthetic, and functional considerations. It is the cumulative thinking of the society and often alogical.


Stake-holders’ perceptions: Buildings are perceived to be stable when these are of balanced shapes (regular geometrical shapes), straight (upright and not inclined or crooked) form, broader at base, balanced composition (axially symmetrical), and of lower height. Similarly buildings made of materials that are opaque, high density, non deformable, stiff, good in compression, rough or robust finish, are considered longer lasting or reliable. Buildings composed of elements, fewer in numbers, larger in scale, and simpler in details also denote reliable performance.


Relevance of a Building is considered on many counts. At macro level, a neighbourhood may not effectively support a building’s existence or use. It may turn embarrassing, in the context of its changed surroundings. At contextual level, the building may be considered irrelevant, when the purpose for which it was conceived is no longer valid. It may become nonessential, when other exotic or superior forms are available. At micro level, a building may become ineffective, if it cannot accept new technologies for service systems, parts or components. It may be considered to have ended, when its important constituents disintegrate or get separated.


A building is neglected when it affects our sensuality, pride, prestige, values, etc. A building may be judged redundant, when in spite of all remedial actions it cannot fulfill its functions. It is abandoned when it cannot stay in equilibrium or in a state that is right for a normal human occupation.





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.