From architecture to community: Adaptive reuse as social practice

Conference paper


Murialdo, F. and House, N. 2023. From architecture to community: Adaptive reuse as social practice. Cumulus Antwerp 2023: Connectivity and Creativity in times of Conflict . University of Antwerp 12 - 15 Apr 2023
TypeConference paper
TitleFrom architecture to community: Adaptive reuse as social practice
AuthorsMurialdo, F. and House, N.
Abstract

This paper brings forward the idea of adaptive reuse as a social practice able to reconnect urban communities, and actively contribute towards their consolidation.
Further, it demonstrates how skills and competences from the academic realm can facilitate community engagement and (re)engender a sense of belonging.
Adaptive reuse, intended as a series of actions and processes to transform existing buildings into different ones ‘fit’ for new purposes, is a practice that has become the focus of discourse around architectural heritage, sustainability and the future of our cities. The central idea of the discipline is to reprogramme existing buildings through a set of tools and tactics able to modify structure and matter. However, it is our contention that the remit of the discipline has evolved, emphasising the notion that buildings are symbolic entities - “memory spaces” and “cultural experiences” able to actively contribute towards the building of communities.
Looking to the principles of maintenance and care that adaptive reuse embodies, we propose an interpretation of reuse, that considers how people interact and identify with places, rather than focusing on function or mode of inhabitation. Consequently, the process of re-activating/re-using architecture situated within the public realm, can be framed as a social practice.
As Spatial Designers we work on projects focused on establishing a dialogue with the community as both an idea and a real entity, identifying practices of engagement, gaining trust and exercising empathy. Working in contexts where communities are sometimes fragmented and not readily able to build a dialogue - a situation exacerbated by covid and the current cost of living crisis in the UK, our role is to support and enable a process of envisioning.
Spatial adaptive practices - by embedding principles of maintenance and care - become an effective strategy for actively engaging with the complex and often conflicting needs of diverse communities and neighbourhoods. The contribution to the Handle with care/Inclusivity track is enriched by the account of KilburnLab, a practice-based research project led by the Interiors Team at Middlesex University in London, comprising a series of collaborative activities with local stakeholders exploring the future of the area.
The Kilburn Lab project is part of a wider strategy for reframing adaptive reuse as a social practice that transposes the principles of ‘care’, that are evident in its processes and tactics, to urban regeneration. Buildings, and more generally existing spaces, are custodians of memory, history and legacy.

KeywordsInterior architecture; adaptive reuse; social practice; community engagement
Sustainable Development Goals11 Sustainable cities and communities
Middlesex University ThemeSustainability
Research GroupFashion and Interiors
LanguageEnglish
ConferenceCumulus Antwerp 2023: Connectivity and Creativity in times of Conflict
Publication dates
Print14 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Jun 2023
Accepted28 Feb 2023
Output statusAccepted
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