New architecture versus existing architecture
Personally I regard my specialisation in redevelopment, renovation and restoration as a broadening within the wide range of architecture. When designing a new building you need to take in account the new function, the users, the program, the size, the footprint, the surrounding and the direct context. But when dealing with an existing building on top of the already mentioned aspects you also have to consider the value, the history, the spirit of the age, the building layers, the existing context and the boundaries and restrictions of this building. For instance you need to consider the constructional limitations of the existing building, valuable elements within the building, or the restrictions laid down by Monument preservation (Monumentenzorg).
What is R-MIT?
My master specialisation within the department of R-MIT focuses on the reuse and redesign of existing buildings in the existing context like the urban setting, history, spirit of the age, economy and needs. R-MIT stands for Renovation – Modification, Intervention and transformation of the build environment. These three aspects represent three scale levels of respectively materials and technique, the reuse and redesign of the building and the development of the urban structure.
The value of the cultural heritage plays a large role in this design process based on the three scale levels. MIT wants to contribute to a durable conservation and use of the build heritage by developing knowledge and dealing with restoration, conservation and reuse on the three scale levels. Value assessment, materialization, design and research play a large role in this process. (Zijlstra 2011)
What is renovation and restoration?
Many people tend to think that R-MIT, renovation or restoration is about monumental buildings and restoring their ornaments like churches, castles, farmhouses, city halls and canal houses. But there are many buildings that can be reused and revitalized. Not all buildings that are being renovated or redeveloped are per definition a (national) monument. Also the scale is much larger than just handling the ornamentation in buildings. There are many ordinary empty buildings without any monumental status or high value that can be reused.
Value assessment and high, positive and indifferent value
I think dealing with existing buildings which don’t have an obvious high value is in a way perhaps even more interesting than dealing with monuments. Our country is filled with this type of existing vacant buildings which have great potential for reuse, while on the other hand there is a lack of space. What are we planning to do with these empty buildings. Are we continuing to build new buildings, leave the empty buildings behind and have less and less open space around us? I’m not saying we can’t build new buildings, but we can be more aware about what is already available and what can be done with it. As architects we can redesign and redevelop the existing architecture and reuse it.
Lee-Anne Schoneveld van der Linde
Zijlstra, H., 2011. R-MIT BK onderwijs met perspectief 2012-2013. Delft (Neth.). Publisher: TU Delft.