The Materials Book

48 18 Never Demolish, Always Transform “It’s a matter of never demolishing, subtracting or replacing things, but always adding, transforming and utilizing them.” 1 How much of a building needs to change along with uses and desires? Most modern buildings last between twelve and fifty years. 2 During that time, renovations often also lead to additional material turnover. What if buildings took adaptation into account from the beginning? Simple architectural strategies could extend the usable lifespan of buildings. Buildings can be designed to be as neutral as possible, with dimensions, partitions, and circulation that can host different activities without much change. Buildings can also be designed as frames that facilitate changes to the interior or the facade. Any change removes and adds some material, but changing a part is less effort than unbuilding a whole building and rebuilding anew. 1 Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton, and Jean-Philippe Vassal, Plus: Large Scale Housing Developments — An Exceptional Case (Barcelona: Editorial Gustavo Gili, 2007), 29. 2 Vaclav Smil, Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization (Chichester, UK: John Wiley, 2014), 110.