Reuse, Refuse, Recycle : Architecture Edition

In a way architecture can be seen as garbage. Some things go fast to the bin never to be considered again, others we don’t want to trash, but can’t utilize further either, so they remain unused until ultimately taking the leap to the litter. And then there are those which thankfully get reused or recycled.

Recycling materials is not a simple and straightforward process – it is technically complicated and involves modern facilities, expertise and even then it is not an entirely productive process. On the other hand, in order for an object or resource to be reused it takes a lot of ingenuity, creativity and knowledge to realize such product.

It is not easy, but we have to do it, for our planet.
Same is valid also for architecture. But this time it is our culture that’s at stake.

When thinking about “recycling” architecture, the problematic varies greatly, but the general approaches can be divided in three main categories: Evolution, Bridge and Commentary. 

Evolution – when one naturally grows in the other. These are places which have been continuously inhabited over centuries and are in constant flux. They stand for mutual respect and change rather than complete preservation. These are places of inspiration with the countless stories written on their walls. Examples for such structures are the fortress in Split or the old town of Plovdiv. They establish not only a connection to the past, but also the connection to time itself, its passage and its graphic representation.

Bridge – when there is a jump between times chronologically, but a link exists. Currently such findings generally operate as museums/exhibits due to the precious information about a previous epoch they contain. However, a bridge in itself can be very different both in style and execution from both contemporary and historical view, as long as it is in line with the design concept. It is of exceptional value for it carries the story of the city/ the building/ the object and invites a future that without it might never come.

Commentary – this approach is characteristic for places associated with a very cataclysmic part of history and towards which the contemporary generation has a strong attitude. It is the category with greatest demand on creativity and the outcome is almost always largely discussed as critical places to learn about humanity. Some good examples are Ground Zero or the Holocaust Memorial.



The above is part of the research project Space in and out of Time, which investigates the way buildings can grow and develop in time. To learn more, see the rubric Space On Time (on the right) or introductory posts Space in and out of Time: A POEM and A SYSTEM




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