Reuse where possible, new construction where necessary
From offices to flats, from factory to cultural centre, from office block to school, from factory to office block, from workshop to library – these are just a small selection of the many transformations Ector Hoogstad Architects has been responsible for in recent years. Transformation – putting existing buildings to new uses – has long been an established activity in the building world. Like many other European nations, the Netherlands has built more since World War II than in all previous centuries put together. It now makes sense both from the perspective of sustainability and for economic reasons to reuse existing buildings as much as possible, and only to build more new ones when there is no other alternative.
Transformation is rarely impossible, given enough creativity and powers of improvisation. In fact, existing buildings often offer rich opportunities in this direction. The need for unorthodox solutions usually creates remarkable architectural opportunities. This is demonstrated for example by the strikingly spacious offices for IMd consulting engineers we designed in a very cost-effective way in an atmospheric former steel works in Rotterdam. Or the unique atmosphere of the foyer of pop venue Gebr. de Nobel in Leiden, which is housed in a former factory building – now a listed industrial monument – in the city centre. Or the outstanding building physics, energy and comfort performance of the MetaForum, the new heart of the Eindhoven University of Technology campus, created by far-reaching refurbishment of the old W block (W-hal) of the university.
As designers we see each transformation as an inspiring challenge. The first step is close study of the original design in its cultural and historical context, so that we have a clear understanding of the task facing us. On this basis, we create new perspectives aimed at appealing as much as possible to future users. It goes without saying that we also try to make the proposed solution as sustainable, and as technically and economically feasible, as possible. We certainly don’t restrict ourselves to standard solutions in this process: in our vision, transformation and innovation, history and future, go hand in hand.
For further information, please contact Chris Arts at the EHA Transformation Expertise Group (firstname.lastname@example.org)