CONTINUANCE of BUILDINGS
Post 401 – by Gautam Shah
Buildings are continued primarily by changing the functions they serve, secondly by redefining the form, and in rare cases, if possible, by altering the surroundings. Many corrective actions are necessary to use the building for a different purpose. Redefining the form of a building is even more difficult as it expected to satisfy simultaneously the functional needs and the value system in the society. In the first instance, if the owner finds the corrective actions uneconomic, would rather opt for a new entity. In the later case, the changes in the form may make the society apathetic to the building’s revised ‘look’. The alteration of form may turn out to be costlier than a comparative new entity. The preservation of surroundings of buildings requires social, political and financial involvement, beyond the reach of an owner or user. It is only for buildings intensively serving social functions or buildings with historical connections that surroundings will be conserved or even rejuvenated.
Buildings are continued by Restorative as well as Enabling interventions. Repairs and maintenance schedules can restore parts, components and systems, provided the design is ‘open-ended’. However, holistic creations or ‘close-ended’ entities deteriorate completely without any scope for corrective measures. Enabling interventions add local capacities, or mediate by adjusting the existing capacities. Changes in the surroundings force functional changes in the building, however, whether one makes the changes to be with surroundings or resists, both ways the building gets altered.
Young buildings seem invincible. Original intentions are still valid and surroundings relevant, and so continuance of the building is an irrelevant thought. No changes, of the function or form, are required. Enabling interventions such as maintenance helps a building continue with a predictable and consistent pace. Such restorative efforts sustain the form and nurture the functions. New buildings have overcapacity risk margins. The parts and components are able to share the additional loads or risks posed by neighbouring constituents. So in early stages of buildings’ life no major replacements are required. New buildings do not need immediate changes unless the programme for it has been faulty, or it coincides with major changes in the political, social or economics fields. Changes in the early phase can be easily made, because original designer, documents, components and systems, all are available. At this point the building is structurally fit for habitation.
Older buildings need substantial retrospection of their functions, due to changes in ownership, reassessment of efficiency, styling and context. As the buildings age, the nominal surface related changes go deeper into the body of structure. Such changes are not easily perceptible, and can grow to very dangerous level. This is a stage when original design documents are not available. The new technology components and systems may not match the existing provisions.
All changes, whether these are improvisations, preventive corrections, sufficiency provisions, or resurrectional actions; of minor, imperceptible, innocent, non-invasive or just touching nature, ultimately add up to completely reformat the original form. These reformations are in addition to the parallel altering process of nature.