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Why It is Important to Restore and Preserve Wherever Possible

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The most sustainable building is an existing building. On the other hand, renovation and restoration can also lead to more intimate environment that importantly, no matter whether the building is an Architectural wonder or a bit of a beast, ties us inextricably to our past in a way that new buildings never can.

23 November 2022
  • Arch. Alexander Daw
    Managing Partner, CEE

I want to explore two small projects that highlight the positive results of choosing to retain a building that could easily have been demolished and look at what the benefits of retention are.

This first building is a house in Bistritsa built in 1978. It was purchased primarily because of its location which allows good access, clean air and a lot of privacy from surrounding properties.

The property is three stories, with a full underground level, low ceilings and changes in level that certainly created challenges.

The first task for the Architect when receiving a project like this is to make sure that the space is usable in a configuration that is applicable to modern living. Also making sure the building can be energy efficient and fit for purpose over the next fifty years.

Many old buildings suffer here as they have not been designed to be flexible, however often challenges can lead to interesting solutions that would never be developed in a new design. This aspect of problem solving is difficult, but if done well can lead to great end result.  Here in the image bellow, you can see the use of beams to deflect for uneven ceilings. This approach negates the need to lower the ceilings and gives further rigidity to the floor slab and maximises the low ceiling hights.

Using an existing building does not prohibit a contemporary approach to design, but it does provide a context that the Architect can respond to in a contemporary way.

Another project is in the centre which is currently under construction where we have taken a similar approach.

This particular building has the advantage of natural stone and large existing floor beams that the Architects can work with, making the building readable and again giving a certain character that is not achievable in new construction.

In conclusion, renovation and restoration can help us both keep our ties with the past and think about the future, while at the same time providing us with opportunities to be creative and innovative.

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