The M2 project started in the winter term 2022/23 and will be continued in the current summer term. Please do not register.

M2.1b | Adaptive Reuse. Designing with existing Buildings

  Southwest Elevation Ulster Museum Belfast © Rory Hyde (mod.)  

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 would like to invite students to explore designing with existing buildings in a design studio entirely focussed on adaptive reuse. Students are 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) have 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 will now choose one of their initial designs, extend it and finish it at a detailed level.

Building in the existing fabric requires a particularly applied design approach. Students learn how to deal sensitively with existing architectural structures by surveying, researching and getting to know them on site. In addition, applied design methods are required, including designing in 1:20 and 1:1 models.



M2 | Design Project
M. Sc. | 2nd and 3rd Semester


First date: Tuesday, April 4, 2023, 9am to 1pm, AGes Library
Regular date: Tuesdays, 9am to 1pm, AGes Library
Submission: Thursday, July 6, 2023


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