WT 2021/22 | Adaptive Reuse

  Mara Petri and Henning Storch © Mara Petri and Henning Storch

Architects always had to work with existing buildings. However, prioritising the integrity of historical buildings in adaptive reuse designs is a lasting principle that emerged from modernist ideologies and as a reaction to the blight of many historic buildings in the wars of the twentieth century. Overlooked by such preservation philosophies, many buildings that were not deemed worthy of protection were demolished only to be built over by new structures. In the twenty-first century architects increasingly valorise existing buildings of any kind, regardless of their listing as protected buildings. The sheer amount of mid-century modernist buildings challenges planners and designers at a time when reusing objects is often considered more sustainable and less resource consuming than creating new ones.

Against this background, we wanted to invite students to explore designing with existing buildings in a design studio entirely focussed on adaptive reuse. Students were expected to not only draft carefully planned and detailed design proposals, but to cater an existing building's formal qualities with convincing compositions. During the first term, students (in groups of two) explored the particularities of adaptive reuse projects by preparing general designs for three additions to structures dating from the medieval times to mid-century modernism. The groups were asked to choose a different design approach for each design: insertion, extension, opposition or (critical) reconstruction. For the second term of the project, the pairs of students have chosen one of their initial designs, extended it and finished it at a detailed level.

The M2 project started in the summer semester 2021 and continued in the winter semester 2021/22.


Selected Design Results




Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Anke Naujokat
Felix Martin, M. Sc. RWTH
Tim Scheuer, M. Sc. RWTH (Adjunct)
Dr.-Ing. Tobias Glitsch (Guest Critic)