"NO-USE, RE-USE, ADAPT-USE"
What is Re-Use?
Re-use is an approach that takes into account the architectural, spatial, and material qualities of an existing built structure and appropriates it for new use. It is an approach that does not start with a program brief and tries to implement this program into the built structure, but on the contrary, through reading and mapping the qualities of a building then establishes different scenarios expressed as desired, expected and even unexpected uses. In order to ensure the success of the re-use approach, the existing shell becomes a pragmatic framework, peeled off any symbolic, political or social references.
The existing shell is taken as it is, as an objet trouvé. The mapping unveils its spatial, structural and material qualities, which are then taken as a starting point for a new intervention. In the re-use approach, the existing is liberated from the function of the original program, leading to a predetermined use.
The aim of the studio is to develop project examples that can be appropriated for different (hybrid) uses. First, selected examples of progressive preservation of the existing will be researched as a point of reference. Then, selected existing structures will be mapped and their reuse will be taken up as a design source for the studio. The studio will employ different design techniques for prototyping, testing and speculating.
Large physical models will supplement precise technical drawings, and abstract diagrams will evolve into digital 3D presentations in order to demonstrate how design techniques developed at the re-use intervention sites could be implemented while designing the new. This will be a proper design studio: design process, design techniques and the results of the design-project proposals will create a base for concluding speculations on the urban, social, and even political effects that a single proposal could trigger.
The studio will research and explore, test and develop several cases of ADAPTIVE USE on one or more locations in Milan – locations characterized by abandoned or not-used existing structure(s) with a big potential for their evolution, adaption and extension. The studio will, through the SUBTRACTED: REUSED: ADDED ratio of interventions into existing, demonstrate how this approach could be extended into the design of the new.
Books and publications on adaptive reuse, as well as those on building types will be suggested for further reading and study.
Students will be guided through a very thorough and structured design process, which will stimulate their sense of creativity and involvement. They will constantly switch between dealing with specific site parameters and abstract/conceptual thinking and prototyping.
In the end, they will develop design proposals and speculate about their appropriate use.
Lectures on progressive preservations with references, as well as lectures on prototyping techniques will mark the beginning phase of the course. If the time frame permits, the studio will invite younger Milanese architects for a studio talk and discussion. The studio will demand a wide spectrum of student skills and techniques. If applicable, a test application exercise will be provided at the beginning of the year to help in selecting the students. Alongside a project proposal, the final assessment will also include a written contribution outlining possible scenarios related to the proposal.
The studio’s research and project development shell becomes a case study on how interventions into the existing and their appropriation for hybrid use leads to a design methodology for the new structures.
To conclude, this is a design studio that will demonstrate how architectural knowledge related to re-use is gained and developed while simultaneously designing entirely new structures.
The re-use approach is twofold: the liberated existing stimulates our senses and imagination on the one hand, it opens up and becomes a playful toolbox; on the other hand it requires a profound understanding and knowledge of what the nature of spaces can re-use to generate interventions into the specific spatial, structural and material qualities of the existing. And it is here that some very basic parameters related to form-finding and space-shaping begin to play an important role. One needs to understand and then master the scale and dimension in order to detour and deviate from what is taken as standard and proper. For example, a school in the re-used building will never be a proper standard school, since the dimensions of the classrooms will not correspond to those usually given and taken as standard. The school in the reused will evolve into a new type of school, with different sizes, volumes, programs and connectivity of its classrooms. And in this school, the way subjects and programs are taught will also be different.
The re-use approach therefore becomes a tool that could lead to the development of new building typologies, where use comes to substitute for a precisely defined program. Whereas Neufert Architect’s Data is used as an instruction manual with a direct connection between the specific program, dimensions and size of spaces and their specific use, resulting in a specific building typology, the re-use approach loosens these in-between connections: reused buildings do not correspond to a specific program and they can be adapted for different uses. Something similar could be implemented to the design of the new, of the not-yet-used.
The Architecture design studio will focus on adaptive USE as the main tool for generating the new, the not-yet-used.
Selected readings will be assigned at the beginning of the semester.