I have always had a soft spot for old buildings which appear to be imbued with history and character in every brick. The trend of adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is in my opinion one of the most inspired ideas of saving these buildings from the bulldozers and making them into spaces that can be enjoyed by the public all over again.- a building makeover.
This was the topic of my final research paper as I investigated factors that influenced the adaptive reuse of these historic gems, specifically focussing on buildings in the capital city of South africa, Pretoria. Money seemed to be the most contributing factor in terms of the scale of the adaption of the building, closely followed by all the protection laws and the new purpose of the building.
For my final design project I redesigned the interior of The Capitol theatre in Pretoria, into creative collaborative workspaces, complete with a cafe for those who prefer coffices to offices, recording studio and a photography studio.
The idea was to restore the theatre space to serve as a mini cinema, which would then promote and serve the independent film makers within the capital city, additionally the theatre auditorium would have retractable telescopic seating which would recede into the back and the space could be used for exhibitions, fashion shows or even craft markets ala Arts on Main in Jhb.
At the end of my degree I feel our job as designers is to not simply look for the easy way out: in this case bulldozing these charming old ladies, but to work around what is there and create solutions that are relevant and thoughtful.
What in your opinion are the most successful adaptive reuse projects in your city? or what would you like these heritage buildings to be adapted into?