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Title: Adaptive Reuse as a Strategy towards Conservation of Cultural Heritage: a Survey of 19th and 20th Century Theories.
Authors: PLEVOETS, Bie 
Issue Date: 2012
Source: Reinventing Architecture and Interiors: the past, the present and the future, Greenwich, United Kingdom, 29-30 March 2012
Abstract: Working with existing buildings, repairing and restoring them for continued use has become a creative and fascinating challenge within the architectural discipline. The process of wholeheartedly altering a building is often called ‘adaptive reuse’. In contemporary conservation theory and practise, adaptive reuse is considered an important strategy towards conservation of cultural heritage. An extensive review of scholarly literature on adaptive reuse from 1970’s onwards, shows that its body of theory is largely based on case study research and not, as one would expect, on architectural theory and/or conservation history. This contribution, therefore aims to presents a critical analysis of 19th and 20th century theories on adaptive reuse. The theoretical discussion on adaptive reuse as a way to preserve historic monuments started in the 19th century when Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) argued that ‘le meilleur moyen pour conserver une édifice, c'est de lui trouver une destination, et de satisfaire si bien à tous les besoins que commande cette destination, qu'il n'y ait pas lieu d'y faire des changements’ (Viollet-le- Duc, 1967 [1854]). His opponents John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896), however, found it impossible to reintegrate in a monument any function beside the original one as it would destroy the authenticity of the building. We also describe – for the first time from the reuse-perspective – how these opposing theories were approached by Alois Riegl (1858-1905)’s concept of use- value and Camillo Boito (1836-1914)’s discourse on the formal architectural relationship between old and new. Finally, we discuss how during the second half of the 20th century, adaptive reuse is emancipating to become a proper discipline within the broader field of architectural conservation. Viollet-le-Duc, E. (1967 [1854]). Dictionnaire raisonné de l'architecture Française du XIe au XVIe siècle (K. Whitehead, Trans. Vol. 8). Paris: F. De Nobele.
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Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections:Research publications

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