Post 645 –by Gautam Shah


Buildings continue to be relevant for many different reasons. Buildings persist, primarily by changing the functions they serve, secondly by redefining the form, and in rare cases, by altering the surroundings. Buildings are continued by Enabling interventions and Restorative actions. Re-use is a process of re-endowing value to neglected built-forms, which otherwise could see demotion.


Turbine Hall of Bank side Power House Wikipedia image by Cwrcun

Tate Hall (original turbine machine room)

A building and its lands, both are precious assets. Buildings are acquired at a great expense of resources, effort and time whereas the lands, now have new relevance being in central location and good connections. No one wants, either to go wastes. Buildings and the lands must be put to different use. Reuse strategies relate to establishing the lands and building for a ‘purpose other than the original one.

Location is the external realm of the building. It has two facets: the distance or the extent and the stack holders of the building. A building serves certain terrain or physical distance. When these get enlarged due to efficient transport services the usage is increased, but conversely barriers like railway tracks, canals, closure of roads, or loss of visual identity affects the raison d’ etre (reason for existence) of the building. Stack holders become insincere for maintenance when the location begins to deteriorate due to economic, social or political problems, and affects the pride or faith in the building.

Batter sea Power House Station Building being  redeveloped with specific conditions like preservation of four chimney structures > Wikipedia image by > Attribution Nigel Cox

Lands become available for reuse, due to the changes in land zone and occupation patterns, such as residential to commercial or industrial to residential. Lands need re-validation of purpose when new developments like location of an airport, highways, railway tracks, etc. take place in neighbourhoods. Existing lands have an advantage of location and connections.


Arnold Print Works as seen from Marshall street in North Adams, Massachusetts> Wikipedia image by Beyond My Ken


Main Entrance Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA) Wikipedia image by Beyond My Ken

Reuse of lands and built spaces is a form of urban rejuvenation, rationalization of urban density and strategy for sustainable use of resources. Reuse, sometimes deals with issues of conservation and so considered by some, as ‘compromise between historic preservation and demolition’.


One of the Reuse project by Gasometer City, Vienna, Austria. Four disused gasometers were revamped into residential quarters > Wikipedia image by (Andreas Poeschek by CC-BY-SA-2.0-at)

Gasometer A in Vienna,

Internal Courtyard of Gasometer at Vienna > Wikipedia Image by Andreas.poeschek by CC-BY-SA-2,0-at

To use a building for a different purpose, many corrective actions are required. Redefining the form of a building is difficult as it is 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’. Often, the cost of renovation, rehabilitation or restorations, are more costly than demolition or building newly.

The preservation of surroundings of buildings requires social, political and financial involvement, which are beyond the reach of the owner or user. It is only for buildings intensively serving social functions or buildings with historical connections that surroundings will be conserved or even redefined. A building, if is a public utility or society’s pride and prestige, its surroundings will be maintained or even resurrected. 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.

Old buildings become unsuitable for their conceived requirements with passage of time. The building’s own technological validity (of service systems’ and components’), and the circumstantial relevance of the planned usage, both, change, and independently. To these, political conditions and financial consideration (benefit accruing out of it) complicate the assessment.

A building, if it has a form of architectural styling then it is continued as a relic. When it has commemorative connections, in appreciation of its past, the building becomes a monument. Buildings that need to be remembered are restored or preserved to retain their form, but often in complete absence of the original setting. A building that has substantially lost the form and has indistinct connections can be enacted through re-imaging of its setting, like through Sound & light (son et Lumiere) shows on historical sites.


Reused Pillars for Arcade at Adhai Din Ka Zonpada India > Wikipedia image by Billyakhtar

A building as a built-form stays till the structure or parts of it can provide shelter. And even after the loss of its integrity as a shell for shelter, its parts and components are scavenged for reuse. Romans and many others have used refuse in their new constructions. There are unknown costs in managing debris of old buildings, related to handling materials like glass wool, asbestos, and radio active contaminants, and demolition and removal of materials from dense localities.


Asbestos and Lead paints require specific care for removal

Older buildings need substantial review 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. 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.



Post 460 -by Gautam Shah


Kwun Tong Town Centre siteA building is located on a land, and both have a very complex base of market value. The building as an asset continuously depreciates. A land is a commodity whose value is contextual, but its supply never increases. Though, factors like, facilities, laws, conversion (from one use to another), political stability and macro relevance, etc., change the availability for a while, and in a location.


640px-Calico_view_from_lookout_pointBuildings are physically formed assets involving labour, material and technical know-how. The labour is non-recoverable expense to shape the materials into a built form. A built-form as soon as it is ready, begins to be affected by environment, usage, and technological irrelevance, and so depreciates. After some period it becomes advisable to construct a new on or shift to a new one. And a building even if it were not to cost more to construct a unit of similar functionality, it would still require new investment and time.



Buildings must remain consistently functional and valuable to remain valid. During reconstruction or substantial reformations, the building ceases to be fruitful. The existing activities require temporary relocation, the cost of it, cessation of income due to it, and optional legal redressal for it, all add to cost of the new entity.

640px-Bijenkorf_Rotterdam_1930550px-Sergei_Mikhailovich_Prokudin-Gorskii_-_Razguliai,_outskirts_of_the_city_of_Perm_(1910)The Land is rarely a free commodity. It is owned by the Government (or king), or else occupied by some authorized-approved-accepted entity or a squatter. The right to use a land are of many types, some permanent (or Allodial title), long-lasting or leased (for specific period). Nominally right to land includes right to occupy, build on it with a purpose, form, and volume (for farm and other lands it could include agriculture and mining). The right to land also include easement rights that allow the owner-lease holder to use a neighbouring property in a specified and limited scale, such as right of access, ventilation, view, illumination, aeration, drainage of rain water, etc. A new buyer checks out if these are transferable rights and if there are charges or other liabilities with it.


640px-Roma_settlement_at_Letanovský_MlynA building is relevant for the purpose it is designed, and later on reformation, how it adjusts to the intended functions. The functionality of a building derives primarily from the land’s location or neighbourhood, and secondarily from its technical virtues, style, and in few instances its past history. A building surviving at a location is continuously affected by the changes occurring in the neighbourhood, urban matrices and environment. Human settlements grow exponentially by new rings, absorbing the suburbs, but creating new sub-centers. Such shifts affect, connectivity, traffic, density and hastens or decelerate the new development in specific locations.



The existing user-owners will not vacate the properties unless offered sufficient incentive. The process of change becomes faster in countries that have holding or land owning companies leasing out sections. In India, urban residential areas abutting wide roads first turn into linear commercial precincts, but converting the back lane properties into warehouses. Both types of changes reduce the real residents, forcing the rest of the lot to flee.


Buildings of the older generation are massive structures where useful (carpet area) area to built-up area difference could be as much as 22% and compared to these, new buildings with thinner structures and leaner services, the difference is 9.5%. This acts as one major incentive to reconstruct the building. In some areas newer building laws allow more total construction. The deterrents to this are several conditions such as provision of parking space and smaller footprints of individual land holdings.

Roma settlement at Letanovsk Mlyn.