Despite the major new construction task ahead of us, most of the buildings are already there. However, they are not always of this time. Rather than breaking them down and starting over, we prefer to modify them.
The rhythm of life has different frequencies. Day and night, week and weekend, the four seasons – and the fresh generations coming to and leaving the city in waves. For example, neighbourhoods 'grey' or become less prosperous while elsewhere certain streets flourish. Every place has its own focus and therefore its own rhythm of peaks and troughs. This focus can change over time. Ports are dug, trade flourishes and then dies.
This creates room for new ideas to fertilise these abandoned places. These experiments reveal the new role that emerges for this part of the city or area, by attracting new visitors, who develop into users and residents, who then bend the area to their liking. One person’s loss is another person’s gain. Think of how Amsterdam’s NDSM site has changed from shipyard into creative incubator and festival site and is now becoming a mixed city district. The city gradually changes colour. An office building transforms into an apartment complex or college, a school becomes a museum, a closed structuralist university complex becomes the vibrant heart of a city centre campus. These are all projects by our office.
Renovating and expanding existing buildings and areas in this way is more sustainable and circular than a completely new construction can ever be. Moreover, during transformation, qualities can be discovered that cannot, or can hardly, be realised in a new construction. More character and history, for example, or a certain excess (in floor height or aisle size) and inefficiency that are not accepted in new construction. Logically, transformation projects are part of an existing environment. This also means that a good transformation project does not stand alone, but gives the whole environment a boost. This applies to new ideas for old buildings as well as to urban transformations of, for example, a former barracks site (brownfield) or densification of the existing city (greyfield). Think of how the closed Maurits and Friso barracks in Ede are being transformed into a residential area with the World Food Center as a special attraction. Or how the centre of The Hague is being doubled by densifying the CID, the area around the CS, HS and NOI stations, with tens of thousands of new homes and jobs.
We always build on the character of the place. By protecting and preserving key elements and, through further development, by adding a new layer to them.
In this way we give new impulses to that living, pulsating polis, by using the (re)building assignment as a fertiliser for the city.
>> see also sustainability